Review Roundup: Immersive WAR OF THE WORLDS at Walt Disney Concert Hall
WAR OF THE WORLDS, composed by Annie Gosfield, plays again at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on November 18 at noon and 2pm. The opera is a co-production with The Industry and now Art.
Orson Welles' 1938 "fake news" led millions of panicked listeners to believe that aliens were invading. Yuval Sharon takes the original radio script as the basis of an audacious new performance piece to be heard around L.A. - at WWII era sirens reactivated for two-way communication - and simultaneously at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Composer Annie Gosfield's use of radio sounds makes her the ideal collaborator in this must-see event.
War of the Worlds can be experienced in four different ways: purchase tickets to the performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall or make a free reservation for a spot at one of the three siren sites.
The cast stars Sigourney Weaver as the Narrator, Hila Plitmann as La sirena, Hugo Armstrong as Professor Pierson, Suzanna Guzman as Mrs Martinez/Estella Ramos, Acting Secretary of the Interior, Joanna Lynn-Jacobs as Melissa Morse, Hadleigh Adams as General Lansing, Jon Lee Keenan as Gunner/Stage Hand, David Castilla as Officer, James Hayden as Commander/Sound Designer, and the LA Phil New Music Group.
WAR OF THE WORLDS is directed by Yuvai Sharon and conducted by Christopher Rountree, with concept sound design by Jonathan Deans, concert hall sound design by David Bullard, siren sites sound design by Jody Elff, costume design by Jaymee Ngernwichit, lighting design by Pablo Santiago. Alien choreography by Lara Helena, and production design by Calder Greenwood.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Seth Colter Walls, The New York Times: Yet the hard-charging first movement, "Mercury," was more than capable of standing on its own as a sizzling orchestral piece. Its references to vintage big-band jazz were refracted through some piercing harmonies... One ideal blend came during the opera's most memorable aria, sung by the character Mrs. Martinez - a witness to the panic outside the hall. The mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán performed the song at one of the raid siren locations, accompanied by pizzicato bass and a lyrically swooning violin stationed nearby.
Mark Swed, The Los Angeles Times: The electronics are pervasive in the orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group was conducted with exceptional vibrancy and dramatic flair by Christopher Rountree (yet another secret weapon). Those electronics at first can sound like they are meant to degrade modern instrumental timbre in a boneheaded effort toward authenticity, but they wind up doing the opposite, enhancing the color and atmospheric flavor of whatever they come near.
Jim Farber, San Francisco Classical Voice: Instead, her music became a boldly evocative mirror of the growing anxiety produced by this "war of the worlds." There were explosive effects from a vast battery of percussion instruments interspersed with ethereal glimmers, blaring brass outbursts, thundering chords from the organ, radio jamming static, and the otherworldly sounds of a Theremin, the quavering voice of "Red Planet Mars."