An ebullient combination of musical theater and light opera in which various elements all the way from refined classical arias to spoken dialogue and lowbrow slapstick intermingle with wit and zest, zarzuela is probably the only musical genre to be named after a bramble bush. The first zarzuela was written for King Philip IV of Spain in 1657 and performed at his hunting lodge, La Zarzuela, which was surrounded by zarzas, or brambles. Now, L.A. Opera has finally taken the plunge into this colorful, flamboyant realm with Federico Moreno Torrobas Luisa Fernanda, a love triangle set in 1868, in revolutionary Spain. For artistic director Plácido Domingo, its been a long time in coming. I have always planned for L.A. Opera to include zarzuelas in its repertoire, announced Domingo, who understandably has a personal affinity for the art form of his Spanish heritage. He stars as wealthy landowner Vidal Hernando, a role his father often performed in the familys zarzuela company. Maria José Montiel stars in the title role, with Antonio Gandia as her fiancé, Javier. Directed by Emilio Sagi, conducted by zarzuela master Miguel Roa. Music Center, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat.-Sun., June 9-10, 2 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. & Sat., June 12, 14 & 16, 7:30 p.m. (213) 972-8001 or www.laopera.com.
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