Classical KUSC Arts Alive Blog

Arts Alive Blog


KUSC Talks to Andre Previn about "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Posted By: Gail Eichenthal · 5/16/2014 6:53:00 PM

Andre Previn’s first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, makes its Los Angeles debut this weekend in the first of three performances by LA Opera, with Renée Fleming in the role written expressly for her: Tennessee Williams’ tortured Southern belle, Blanche DuBois. The 85 year-old composer will not be in attendance; Previn has avoided visiting Los Angeles since he resigned his directorship of the LA Philharmonic in 1989 following a bitter dispute with then Managing Director of the orchestra, Ernest Fleischmann. But Previn did agree to chat with KUSC (he and I worked on the orchestra’s broadcasts in the 1980’s). By phone from his apartment on New York’s Upper East Side, he talked about “Streetcar”, and about his two muses: Fleming and his most recent ex-wife, the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who, just last week, premiered Previn’s Second Violin Sonata to great acclaim. Previn also touched on his own musical past, and some vivid memories of his mentor, the distinguished French conductor, Pierre Monteux.

Since its 1998 debut, Previn’s “Streetcar” has been performed widely  by such companies as Washington Opera, Virginia Opera, and more recently in a semi-staged production to be repeated at LA Opera, seen first at Carnegie Hall, then at Chicago Lyric Opera. Previn tells Gail “Streetcar” began as a commission from the San Francisco Opera.

Andre Previn’s opera “A Streetcar Named Desire”,  featuring a libretto by Phillip Littell based on the Tennessee Williams play, receives its local premiere by LA Opera Sunday, May 18 at 5pm, with Renée Fleming starring in the role Previn tailor-made for her lustrous soprano voice:  Blanche DuBois. Also to be featured:  bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as the hotheaded Stanley Kowalski, with soprano Stacey Tappan as Stella and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey as Blanche’s suitor Mitch.  Two additional performances will take place May 21 and May 24. Tickets and further info at

Click here for a sneak preview.

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