Hollywood Bowl 2012: 'The Producers,' Juanes, 'Rigoletto,' Liza
It will require a lot of people to put together this year's Hollywood Bowl season, including a number of FOGs, FOHs and FOJs. Namely, friends of Gustavo Dudamel, friends of Herbie Hancock and friends of John Williams.
Among the highlights of this year's Bowl lineup, to be announced Tuesday, will be performances of Mel Brooks' record-setting hit musical "The Producers," a musical and visual tribute to Pixar, a Fourth of July program headlined by Barry Manilow, and a production of Verdi's opera "Rigoletto" starring baritone Zeljko Lucic and conducted by Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic's music director.
Several of the Bowl's other attractions this season can be credited, in part, to the extensive network of personal and professional relationships maintained by Dudamel, Hancock, who is the Phil's creative chair for jazz, and Williams, the prolific Hollywood composer who makes frequent appearances at the Bowl and the Phil's other home, the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
"We find a lot of artists do things for us at the Bowl with their friends in a special-event category, because it’s the Bowl," said Arvind Manocha, the Phil's chief operating officer. "One of the things we feel very proud of is, 90% of our season are concerts that don’t tour, that are not going anywhere else, that are created for us, that will be done here, and they won’t be part of a 20-city engagement."
A central point of this season's tailor-made, site-specific programming will be the "Americas and Americans" festival (Aug. 14-19), an exploration of music from across the hemisphere, spearheaded by Dudamel. The Venezuela-born conductor has enlisted several Latin American colleagues, including Colombian rocker Juanes, Panamanian salsa singer-songwriter Rubén Blades and Dominican pop-merengue artist Juan Luis Guerra, to take part in various concerts.
"Juan Luis Guerra was somebody that actually we were trying to book to be a jazz headliner at the Bowl," said Deborah Borda, the Phil's president. "But Gustavo wrote to him or called him -- he knows everybody."
Also participating for one concert of the festival will be one of Dudamel's hometown acquaintances, Plácido Domingo, the superstar Spanish tenor and general director of L.A. Opera.
On the classical side of the Bowl's season, violin virtuoso Gil Shaham will be the featured soloist Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 for the program "John Williams: Maestro of the Movies." Not coincidentally, Shaham and Williams are longtime associates.
"We work at it," Borda said, referring to the Phil's artistic interconnections. "You know, what's fascinating is Wayne and Herbie, Gil and John, Gustavo and Plácido. And then Gustavo and Juanes and Guerra."
The annual fully staged musical at the Bowl will be Mel Brooks' Tony-winning "The Producers" (July 27-29). The cast will be announced at a later date.
"Pixar in Concert" (Aug. 3-5) will feature clips from films by the animation giant with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performing the scores live.
One-night concerts will include Norah Jones (Aug. 10) and Liza Minnelli (Aug. 11).
On other classical nights when the Phil musicians don their summer whites, soloists will include pianist Yuja Wang, whose eye-catching attire last season at the Bowl provoked nearly as much commentary as her playing; violinist Joshua Bell, performing with bassist, collaborator (and friend) Edgar Meyer; and Yefim Bronfman, joining Phil resident conductor Lionel Bringuier on a program of Brahms' Second Piano Concerto and Elgar's "Enigma Variations."
Performers at KCRW's World Festival Sunday evening concerts will include London electronic groovemeisters Hot Chip teaming with Passion Pit (Sept. 9); Black Eyed Peas rapper-DJ Aple.de.ap celebrating his Filipino musical heritage (July 22) and the foursome of Animal Collective joined by Tuvan throat singing group Huun Huur Tu (Sept. 23).
Manocha said that one other "very unusual soloist" will be making his Bowl debut: L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who'll read the narrative sections of Aaron Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait" in a Sept. 11 program with the L.A. Phil.
"Zev has been a great supporter of the Bowl, in all sorts of ways," Borda said. "So we have engaged him to do this, and he doesn't have to wear a costume, I told him."
The Phil will release the full schedule on the Hollywood Bowl website on Tuesday.
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: The Hollywood Bowl. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times