Sideshow | Puccini for Woody?

Posted: June 24, 2007

Puccini for Woody?

A confluence of unlikely phenomena will ensure the L.A. Opera's '08-09 season a couple of very odd shows. (Yes, there is opera in Lalaland.)

First there's consummate New Yorker Woody Allen, who has agreed to fly to L.A. to direct his first-ever opera, Part One of Puccini's trio of shorts, Il Trittico. Called "Gianni Schicchi," the one-acter is a Woody Allen-esque absurdist farce about greed, property, love and lust.

"I have no idea what I am doing," Allen confessed. "But incompetence has never prevented me from plunging in."

Placido Domingo, general director of the L.A. Opera, said he had been approaching movie directors to try their hand at opera. He said it took him four years to persuade Woody.

Pea soup at the opera?

The other two parts of Il Trittico, "Il Tabarro" and "Suor Angelica," might very well feature rotating heads, projectile pea soup-vomiting, and general demonic fun. That's because they'll be handled by another American director, Exorcist legend William Friedkin.

Mandela's legacy

He's currently the Supreme Deity Himself in Evan Almighty, but soon Morgan Freeman will morph into a (challenging) South Africa frame of mind for The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed the World, in which he will portray the human-rights leader and South African president Nelson Mandela. Set after the fall of apartheid, the film examines how Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was being hosted by South Africa, as a way to help stop the hatred that had existed for decades between whites and blacks.

"I have known Nelson Mandela personally for quite some time, and am continually in awe of his enormous presence in the world," Freeman said. "The opportunity to portray him in this film is a great honor."

Taking on 'Sicko'

Michael Moore, out stumping for Sicko, his new docu about the health-care industry, had a verbal smackdown with Tom DeLay this week, Variety reports.

On Thursday, the former House GOP leader, who refers to Moore as a "plus-sized publicity hound," called him "chicken" for backing out of a televised debate about health care, which was set to air tomorrow on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos.

"Guess he didn't expect anyone to seriously take him on," DeLay said.

Moore was unfazed. He says he wanted to debate Billy Tauzin, a former congressman who heads the pharmaceuticals industry lobby. He feels he was wronged when ABC proposed he take on DeLay, "a man who currently has nothing to do with the specific issues raised in the film Sicko and is under indictment" (for allegedly violating campaign finance laws).

Bob lovers take note

Columbia Records will release a 51-track, three-CD, four-decade career-spanning retrospective of Bob Dylan's music on Oct. 1. The title? Dylan.
Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com. This column contains information from Web sites and Inquirer wire services.

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