Allen makes opera debut


NEW YORK -- Woody Allen is having his night at the opera. The veteran director will make his operatic stage debut this fall with the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi.”

Fellow film director William Friedkin returns to stage Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” and “Suor Angelica,” with the three one-act operas rounding out the composer’s “Il Trittico” triptych, opening the company’s 2008/2009 season.

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

The company’s broad general director and opera singing legend Plácido Domingo recruited the notoriously LA-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,” Mr. Domingo said. “I will admit that my pursuit of Woody takes the prize of the longest pursuit, because LA Opera chairman and CEO Marc Stern and I first started talking to him some four years ago.” Friedkin previously directed for the company in 2003.

The production will be designed by Santo Loquasto, who has worked as a prtoduction designer on more than 20 of Allen’s films. Music director James Conlon will conduct the production, which opens on 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. The director recently released his first collection of short stories in 25 years, “Mere Anarchy.” He hosted a suprise premiere of his latest film, “Cassandra’s Dream,” in Aviles, Spain this week.