PLÁCIDO DOMINGO ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD GENERAL DIRECTOR

JAMES CONLON ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD GENERAL DIRECTOR

CHRISTOPHER KOELSCH PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Did you know that LA Opera is a non-profit?

Many people don’t realize that most arts organizations are non-profits, built to help people find common ground and an emotional connection.

LA Opera is no different. We strive to bring opera to everyone, because we know how opera’s unique combination of classical music, storytelling, and visual arts, when simultaneously shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people, can be awe-inspiring.
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Guests enjoy a concert at Grand Avenue Arts 2015

Guests enjoy a concert in Stern Grand Hall

Our Newcomer Open House

If you’ve never seen an opera, at least not one at LA Opera, and wonder what makes it so special, here’s your chance to see, hear and experience what’s in store this season. On Sunday, August 20, we’re opening out doors at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and invite you to our Newcomer Open House.

Hear a recital of selections from the coming season performed by our talented members of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, grab a bite, sip some wine or a cocktail and learn more about the makings of an opera production.
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Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Georges Bizet’s last opera has struck deeply into the soul of Western Civilization.

Its music is universally loved and its meaning constantly analyzed, debated and reinterpreted. As a protagonist, Carmen is unique. Contrary to many mythological characters who served as operatic subjects, she transcended her stage existence and then evolved into an archetype, a popular and modern myth. Unlike Don Juan, Faust and numerous Greek, Roman and Nordic mythological characters adapted for the opera stage, Carmen had little prehistory. But like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, her obvious male counterpart, she became immortal thanks to the genius of a composer. The protagonist of a short story by Prosper Mérimée, she was perfectly realized the moment Bizet set her to music.

Who is Carmen and what does she represent?

Ask a dozen opera lovers, and there will be a dozen answers. Evil temptress, femme fatale, erotic demon, 19th-century Eve for some; victim of racism, gender inequality and social injustice, symbol of emancipation and feminine empowerment for others.
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Look up most major opera composers on IMDb and you’ll get a list with hundreds of credits. Georges Bizet –famous composer of Carmen– is no exception. Music from Carmen can be heard in a variety of works, including the Pixar film Up. Carmen has also inspired several film adaptions, including the Academy-award nominated 1954 Carmen Jones.

We’ve rounded up some uses of Carmen on the silver and small screens to check out before seeing our production on September 9.

Up

In Up, Carl Frederickson, following the death of his wife Ellie, fulfills his lifelong dream of moving to Paradise Falls, but unbeknownst to him, eight-year-old Russell has tagged along. “Habanera” from Carmen is used early in the film, showcasing the monotony of Carl’s life without his wife.

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Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Spring, 2016.

I’d been refreshing my email constantly for days on end, anxiously waiting for the email holding my fate. I auditioned for Opera Camp about a month earlier, and had been waiting for the results ever since. I’d found out about the program when I’d auditioned for Noah’s Flood months before. Patience however, was slowly edging its way out of my grasp. Then, suddenly I saw it:

Congratulations! We would like to inform you that you have been accepted and cast for our 16/17 Opera Camp!!!!

And so it began.
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Mark Your Calendars We’re presenting a free, live simulcast of Carmen at Santa Monica Pier and Exposition Park on September 23 at 7pm. If you’re looking to experience opera under the stars, this is your chance. Here are some things … Continue reading

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew


We love opera and we love seeing audiences experience the transformative power of opera.

Our dedication to sharing this art form with the entire Los Angeles community brings more than 30 programs into hundreds of neighborhoods across the region and also invites community members to experience opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

LA Opera’s simulcast is one of our newest and most expansive programs, sharing the first opera of the season with thousands of Angelenos — in three diverse geographic locations and all at the same time.

Through the generous commitment of Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors, LA Opera will continue its simulcasts on September 23, 2017 with Carmen, live at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and with live broadcasts at the Santa Monica Pier and Exposition Park.
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You’ve read the rave reviews, watched the season trailer, and seen your friends’ Instagrams at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Now, you want to experience a night at the opera. The only problem is – there are a lot of choices and you don’t know which opera to see first.

We’re here to help. Below are a few great starter operas, some of which are coming to LA Opera this season.

CARMEN

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

There’s a reason why everybody loves Carmen. It’s about an independent, wild, and fierce woman from the south of Spain, who has no shortage of admirers. This realistic, action-packed story has become one of the most popular operas in the world. That’s because of its Spanish flair, grand music, and tragic love triangle. Also, whether you’re a Westworld fan or you like The Muppets, we know you’ve heard the music from Carmen before (“Habanera”).

You’re already familiar with Carmen, so why not make it your first opera experience this September?

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Opera Camp 2017

Opera Camp 2017

UPDATE: Maestro James Conlon will be conducting both performances of Brundibár.

One of our beloved Opera Camp’s teaching artists, Judy Johnson, started performing at the age of eight. She sang in church, studied voice in high school and college, and then worked as an actress in Los Angeles. In 2014, she loved her life as an actress, but realized something was missing. After a life spent performing, Johnson wanted to give back to her community in another way.

That desire combined with her love of opera led her to become an LA Opera teaching artist.

Her first role with LA Opera was as Assistant Director for last year’s Opera Camp production of Then I Stood Up. Her enthusiasm for the work and her passion for teaching our campers shines through.
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An Innovative Summer Camp

Opera Camp 2017

Opera Camp 2017

For the past 17 years, we’ve hosted Opera Camp. It is a two-week immersive program where students aged 9-17 experience all aspects of opera production, guided by LA Opera artists. They are coached in singing, movement and learn about staging, scenic and prop design, and stage management.

Our campers have arrived this week. They’ve been rehearsing and exploring the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

But, our campers are also learning about something else.

Opera Camp connects campers to the past and to today’s toughest issues. It brings context to headlines and shows students their potential to impact the world.
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Are you heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con and looking for something to wear? Here’s a list of opera costumes that will leave you Comic-Con ready.

1. This costume from Grendel looks straight out of Game of Thrones.

Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth in Grendel (2006)

Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth in Grendel (2006)

2. Armored soldiers from Aida — who’s to say these aren’t right out of Game of Thrones or Outlander?

Aida (2005); Photo: Robert Millard

Aida (2005); Photo: Robert Millard

3. Any of the Pagliacci clowns — whether you’re dressing as a riff on the Joker or Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, or a classic homage to Killer Klowns From Outer Space everyone (meaning no one) loves a creepy clown.

Georgie Gagnidze as Tonio in Pagliacci (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Georgie Gagnidze as Tonio in Pagliacci (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

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So Young Park; Photo: Lanley Le

So Young Park; Photo: Lanley Le

So Young Park is no stranger to Los Angeles operagoers.

Since 2014, Park has appeared in multiple LA Opera productions and concerts. The coloratura soprano first set foot on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage as Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro and has since wowed audiences in leading roles including the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Blondchen in The Abduction from the Seraglio and Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann.

“As Olympia, the mechanical doll that Hoffmann is tricked into believing is his love, So Young Park…sang spectacularly.” – Los Angeles Times

On July 24, the Domingo-Colburn-Stein alumna will compete in Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s annual opera competition, and sharing her high notes with the world.

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What do Burning Man and LA Opera have in common?

Anabel Romero.

Anabel Romero

Anabel Romero

Romero is LA Opera’s Community Engagement Coordinator. She helps oversee the company’s Opera Camp and Cathedral Project programs that share opera with the Greater Los Angeles community.

When she’s not leading campers or community members in opera productions at LA Opera, Romero is a co-founder and co-artistic director of aLma.MaddR, a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary arts collective. The collective’s latest project is a sound installation for an international collaboration called Aluna that will be staged at this year’s Burning Man.

These two gigs aren’t mutually exclusive.

Romero shares that one actually informs the other in the way she makes art. Her community outreach work has helped Romero understand how to use art to connect diverse communities.
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Head Tailor Laina Babb posing with suits she's made for LA Opera productions

Head Tailor Laina Babb posing with suits she’s made for LA Opera productions

When Laina Babb learned to sew at age six, she never imagined it would lead her to the opera. She’s made her love of sewing into a career, first training and then apprenticing as a tailor. Now, as LA Opera’s Head Tailor, Babb manages a team of up to six tailors (depending on the show). Together they craft all the men’s suits used in the company’s productions. That means she’s had a hand in making pretty much every suit you can imagine – elaborate French Revolution-style suits for The Ghosts of Versailles, 1960s Italian suits for the Woody Allen directed Gianni Schicchi, and even a flashy, taffeta suit worn in Porgy and Bess.

From Learning to Sew To Working at LA Opera

Long before Babb worked at LA Opera, she was just a little girl learning to sew as part of the 4-H program in her hometown of Lockwood, California. In this program, children complete hands-on projects that will serve their communities, as part of a larger goal to empower young people and teach them leadership.

Babb took her sewing skills with her to high school, where she made costumes in the theater department. Working in costumes in high school spawned her desire to turn a love of sewing and costumes into a career in theater.

Babb enrolled at Chapman University to study technical theater. During her four years at Chapman, she took multiple costume classes, but the technical side of costuming – of building them and solving all a director’s staging challenges – kept calling.
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LA Opera establishes six-year paid internship

Robert Rivera and Maya Ordoñez after meeting with LA Opera's Chief Financial Officer Faith Raiguel

Robert Rivera and Maya Ordoñez after meeting with LA Opera’s Chief Financial Officer Faith Raiguel

When most people think of interns, they think of enthusiastic college juniors and seniors experiencing the office environment for the first time before being thrust into the workforce. At LA Opera, we do hire college interns – but we also hire high school interns through an innovative new program meant to forge the next generation of diverse arts leaders: LA Opera Leadership Academy.

LA Opera Leadership Academy is not your ordinary internship.

Why? It can last six years.
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Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

LA Opera President and CEO Christopher Koelsch participated in discussions at the inaugural Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference about how companies can find and keep new audiences for music.

The panel also included Yael Greenberg, Music Consultant, Kickstarter, and was moderated by Graham Parker, President of Universal Music Classics, USA.

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LA Opera’s 2017/2018 season opens September 9

Our 2016/17 season may have come to an end, but 2017/18 is just around the corner. Next season has something for everyone from the classic gems to the avant-garde. Get to know the season below and don’t forget to buy your tickets early for the best seats.

CARMEN (September 9-October 1)

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

On September 9, we open with Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Ana María Martínez stars as opera’s most famous femme fatale. Nobody—not even a lover—can tame Carmen, who bursts into life onstage with an intoxicating whirl of thrilling choreography, vivid orchestrations and heart-stopping drama. Bizet’s unforgettable score is an endless parade of one great melody after the other, from the languid allure of Carmen’s sensual songs to the macho boasts of the dashing bullfighter.

THE PEARL FISHERS (October 7-28)

A scene from The Metropolitan Opera's production of The Pearl Fishers (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

A scene from The Metropolitan Opera’s production of The Pearl Fishers (2015); Photo: Ken Howard

A beautifully detailed staging, complete with stunning special effects, brings a rare and exotic story to life. Soprano Nino Machaidze, one of LA Opera’s favorite leading ladies, returns as a veiled priestess with a hidden past, pursued by two lifelong friends and romantic rivals. The complicated triangle pushes forbidden love into a final struggle for life and death, until a nearly forgotten secret saves the day.  Internationally acclaimed tenor Javier Camarena makes his company debut as Nadir.

The ravishing score, an early treasure by the composer of Carmen, features a rapturous duet for the two rivals that has become one of opera’s all-time greatest hits.

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Anthony Roth Costanzo as the title character in Akhnaten 2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Anthony Roth Costanzo as the title character in Akhnaten (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

It’s finally summertime. What better way to celebrate than creating a killer summer playlist?

Here are some opera tunes to add to your summer jams playlist.

“Summertime” – Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin

This classic makes living in the heat of summer easy. Whether you’re listening to the original opera version, the celebrated Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald album, or this sample by Sublime, there’s no better piece of music to add to your summer playlist. Watch Audra McDonald (who returns to LA Opera in concert next season) perform the aria here.

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Shawnet Sweets with her opera composer helmet at the AIDS ride

Shawnet Sweets with her opera composer helmet at the AIDS ride

When someone says that opera is their life, you naturally think – singer? composer? conductor?

Not in this case.

For Shawnet Sweets, her opera life is as a fan and as the Second Assistant Treasurer in LA Opera’s box office. But, when she’s not selling tickets, Shawnet travels the world to see opera and she finds other ways to make opera part of her life.

You see, Shawnet is also a philanthropist. She decided she’d ride in the AIDS Lifecycle: The Ride to End Aids. This is an annual seven-day bike ride to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Participants raise money and then ride on average 80 miles a day, for seven days, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

How does opera fit into this story?

Shawnet’s favorite operas give her strength to complete the 560-mile ride.

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A talk back after the west coast premiere of Thumbprint; from left - composer Kamala Sankaram, librettist Susan Yankowitz, creative producer Beth Morrison, and they are joined by Mukhtar Mai, whose life inspired the story, and her translator Gyanam Mahajan

A talk back after the west coast premiere of Thumbprint; from left – composer Kamala Sankaram, librettist Susan Yankowitz, creative producer Beth Morrison, and they are joined by Mukhtar Mai, whose life inspired the story, and her translator Gyanam Mahajan

Mukhtar Mai’s smile lights a room. She’s recently arrived in Los Angeles and when we speak she chats about her eagerness to see Thumbprint – the opera her life inspired – and meet with friend Freida Pinto who lives in the area.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Mukhtar Mai, she’s an incredible woman.
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See past articles → LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.