Set design glitch gums up ‘Grendel’

L.A. Opera delays world preem of Goldenthal prod'n

An inoperable set piece has forced the L.A. Opera to delay the world premiere opening of Eliot Goldenthal’s “Grendel” until June 8.

Opera was slated to open Saturday, but that time will now be used for a dress rehearsal. Perfs on June 1 and 3 are being labeled previews and, if there are technical glitches, “We will have to have a customer-friendly approach” toward compensating patrons, L.A. Opera artistic director Edgar Baitzel said Thursday.

It’s possible a performance will be added to the end of the run.

The problem is the computer software needed to operate parts within a 48-foot by 26-foot wall and its large platform. Wall, constructed in Portland, Ore., arrived 2½ weeks ago and has never worked properly, opera personnel said.

Set designer George Tsypin and his team are finishing the development of cueing software that operates the 28 motors within the piece, which is both the centerpiece of the show and the most elaborate piece of scenery the L.A. Opera has ever used in its 20 years of productions.

Baitzel said the company has added two more rehearsals in hopes of doing a full run-through prior to the dress rehearsal.

“We’re minimizing artistic risk,” he said. Bass-baritone lead Eric Owens “has never been given a chance to (find his) rhythm” onstage with the set. Every other aspect of the production is on schedule, Baitzel said.

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