Politicians a No-Show at Washington Opera; Kanye West at LA Opera

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You can tell a lot about a city’s opera culture by who shows up for opening nights – or doesn't.

The Washington National Opera unveiled a new production of Verdi’s La Forza Del Destino Saturday night, but the gala event turned out to be a low-key affair because of the government shutdown.

The Washington Post's Reliable Source column reports that most of the elected officials who normally attend the A-list social event were missing in action. Supreme Court justice and perennial opera lover Ruth Bader Ginsberg was one of the few government heavyweights who did make an appearance. The Kennedy Center has been partially closed since the shutdown began, and politicians have been avoiding the limelight. Reviews for the Verdi production, by Francesca Zambello, have been largely positive.

Meanwhile, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach made a stop at the Los Angeles Opera over the weekend, drawing a starry crowd that included Jack Nicholson as well as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. The celebrity couple were said to arrive late for the five-hour opera, and apparently weren't entranced by the plotless, stream-of-consciousness production. San Bernadino Sun critic Jim Farber writes:

Then, about an hour into the performance an entourage that included Kanye West and Kim Kardashian clambered over us and took their seats. Perhaps they thought they were at the Nokia Center rather than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion because they immediately got up, went back to the lobby and purchased cocktails, which they proceeded to bring back to their seats. Sip. Sip.

A few moments later a uniformed usher made his way down the aisle, informed the celebs about the house rules and confiscated their libations. About an hour after that (well before the end of the performance) they bolted for parts unknown. (I, however, had no intention of keeping up with the Kardashians).

For his part, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed called the Einstein production a "momentous event" and reported that the opera's creators received "one of the most thrilling, thunderous ovations in the history of L.A. Opera."