Viler funds L.A., Russian operas

$10 mil earmarked for new prod'ns, young artists in Los Angeles

Albert Viler, the philanthropic investor who has donated $150 million to arts organizations, announced the donation Tuesday of $20 million in gifts to the Los Angeles Opera and Mariinsky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Los Angeles Opera will earmark $6 million over three years for new productions and up to $1 million a year for four years for a young artists program.

In accepting the gift, L.A. Opera artistic director Placido Domingo spoke of the need to bring more of the world’s great productions, beginning with “War and Peace,” which originated in Russia, played London and is headed for New York. Without giving specifics, he vowed to bring it to L.A.

“Great productions should be able to travel around the world,” Domingo said. “We should make great efforts to do them here.”

Domingo also spoke of wanting to present more Spanish-language opera in 1,500-1,800-seat theaters other than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and at prices families can afford. He offered no details.

Conductor Valery Gergiev will use a $14 million gift from Viler to produce at least two major operas and/or ballets per year for the next three years; do co-productions with the Los Angeles Opera; establish a New York management office; and continue support of a young artists program.

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