N.Y.'s Allen 'seduced' by L.A.'s opera

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Woody Allen is having his night at the opera. The director will make his operatic stage debut in the fall with the Los Angeles Opera production of Giacomo Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi."

Fellow film director William Friedkin also will return to stage Puccini's "Il Tabarro" and "Suor Angelica." All three one-act operas round out the composer's "Il Trittico" triptych, opening the company's 2008-09 season.

"I have no idea what I am doing, but incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in with enthusiasm," Allen said.

The company's broad general director and opera legend Placido Domingo recruited the notoriously Los Angeles-phobic director to his stage. "I've seduced many a film director into directing opera, starting with John Schlesinger and 'The Tales of Hoffmann' at London's Covent Garden," Domingo said.

"I will admit that my pursuit of Woody takes the prize of the longest pursuit, because L.A. Opera chairman and CEO Marc Stern and I first started talking to him some four years ago," he added.

Friedkin directed for the company in 2003.

The production will be designed by Santo Loquasto, who has worked as a production designer on more than 20 of Allen's films. Music director James Conlon will conduct the production, which opens Sept. 6, 2008.

Allen's section of the 1918 triptych is based on a story referenced in Dante's "The Divine Comedy" involving a dramatic showdown over money and marriage. Allen recently released his first collection of short stories in 25 years, "Mere Anarchy." He hosted a surprise premiere of his latest film, "Cassandra's Dream," this week in Aviles, Spain.
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