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'The Birds' before taking flight

April 19, 2009 |  9:00 am

Opera Don't worry: The Los Angeles Opera production of "The Birds" doesn't involve manic feathered creatures attacking people in a Hitchcockian twist. In this whimsical representation of Aristophanes' Greek comedy -- part of the opera company's Recovered Voices project exploring neglected musical works -- the call of Walter Braunfels' "The Birds" ("Die Vogel") is more sweet than possessed.

The fable tells the tale of two city dwellers who flee to the kingdom of the birds in search of a better life. The comedy premiered in Munich in 1920 and has been rarely performed until now.

The Times recently sent artist Paul Rogers to an early dress rehearsal to capture the controlled chaos that happens backstage -- whether it's rope-pulling and scene setup; actors in colored robes, adorned with flowing wings and glittering headdresses, taking a break; or a short conference in the pit among the production staff -- and the amalgamation of the various parts into one cohesive production.

Conducted by L.A. Opera music director James Conlon, "The Birds" received its first U.S. performance April 11 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Additional performances are scheduled for Thursday and next Sunday.

Click through for more of Rogers' sketches after the jump.

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Credit: Paul Rogers/For The Times

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