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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Opera Camp 2017

Opera Camp 2017

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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Thumbprint (2017); Photo: Larry Ho

Thumbprint (2017); Photo: Larry Ho

The music of Thumbprint is infused with the sounds of South Asia, melding classical Hindustani music with western classical music.

Kamala Sankaram, who is both the piece’s composer and plays the leading role of Mukhtar Mai, has woven traditional instruments – piano, flute, violins, drums, and what you’d expect in a band – with some that are not often seen in opera.

The sounds that form the musical language of Thumbprint and provide its regional nuances come from the traditional instruments of South Asia.

Harmonium – like an accordion, the harmonium is a small pump organ.

Harmonium

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Kamala Sankaram as Mukhtar Mai in Thumbprint; Photo: Noah Stern Weber / Beth Morrison Projects

Kamala Sankaram as Mukhtar Mai in Thumbprint; Photo: Noah Stern Weber / Beth Morrison Projects

NEWS: We’re thrilled and honored that Mukhtar Mai – whose historic bravery inspired “Thumbprint” – is traveling from Pakistan to witness her story told and join us for the talkbacks after each performance. If you don’t have a ticket yet, this is your chance to be part of this powerful moment.

After a brutal attack meant to destroy her, Mukhtar Mai became the first woman in Pakistan to bring her rapists to justice. Since then, Mai has become an international icon for women’s rights. She used the reparations money she received from the government to build schools for girls and continues to support women through her Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization. Mai’s story resonates beyond borders in its implicit belief that even in the darkest times, one person, one voice, through a single act of courage, can change the lives of thousands.

Writer Susan Yankowitz has told Mai’s story for over a decade – as a monologue, then part of a play called Seven and now in the opera Thumbprint.
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A scene from the 2014 premiere production of Thumbprint; Photo: Noah Stern Weber / Beth Morrison Productions

A scene from the 2014 premiere production of Thumbprint; Photo: Noah Stern Weber / Beth Morrison Productions

NEWS: We’re thrilled and honored that Mukhtar Mai – whose historic bravery inspired “Thumbprint” – is traveling from Pakistan to witness her story told and join us for the talkbacks after each performance. If you don’t have a ticket yet, this is your chance to be part of this powerful moment.

Thumbprint tracks the extraordinary transformation of Mukhtar Mai. As a young woman in Pakistan, Mai is the victim of a brutal crime meant to destroy her. With incredible courage, Mai reports the crime, brings her perpetrators to justice, and becomes an international champion for women’s rights in Pakistan.

Rather than track Mai’s transformation in a literal fashion – with events happening on stage chronologically – director Rachel Dickstein brings Mai’s story to life in a different way that serves the opera’s impressionistic structure.

“When I first came on to Thumbprint, I was drawn to the impressionistic structure that Kamala and Susan had created,” recalls Dickstein. “Mai’s story does not unfold in a traditional or literal way. Everything that happens is from Mai’s perspective so therefore told through the lens of memory.”

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Brian Wong

Brian Wong

Tax accountant Brian Wong first discovered opera back in 2008, while he was looking for a way to relieve the stresses of work and life. A Los Angeles native, Brian recalled an elementary school trip to see Hansel and Gretel at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

An interest in opera stayed with him, and he began noticing familiar arias in movies and on television. “To me, the most famous aria was ‘O mio babbino caro,’ which I discovered to be from Puccini’s Il Trittico, an opera I’d never heard of and knew absolutely nothing about,” said Mr. Wong.

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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

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been to a few operas, maybe more, and have experienced the magic of the performance and all that comes with it.

But, if you’re buying tickets to shows one at a time you might be missing out on savings and the opportunity to really enjoy all that comes with an evening at the opera.

Consider becoming a subscriber. Why, you ask?
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Voices for Tolerance at Warren Lane Elementary School (December 2016)

Voices for Tolerance at Warren Lane Elementary School (December 2016)

LA Opera has several programs that bring music – opera, specifically – into schools and into the Greater Los Angeles community. One of these programs, Voices for Tolerance, offers students the opportunity to explore tough issues through music.

In this program, LA Opera collaborates with teachers to create a multi-week, choral program that fosters a love of music rooted in classroom curriculum. Voices for Tolerance features themes of community building, social justice, and cooperative action. Projects culminate in live performance and have included original operas based on classroom personal heritage projects, choral recitals exploring folk and protest music from around the world, and a pageant inspired by the Greek Olympics.

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LA Opera’s 16/17 season is almost over. But, you don’t have to wait until September (and the opening of Carmen on September 9th). Here are a few ways to get your opera fix this summer.

Hear LA Opera’s Artists Around Town

Matthew Aucoin (right) works with Summer Hassan, a member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program

Matthew Aucoin (right) works with Summer Hassan, a member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program


Mozart: Truth Through Beauty
LA Opera’s artist-in-residence Matthew Aucoin, joined by the rising stars of the company’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program, presents a musical exploration of Mozart’s unique artistic trajectory.

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Kamala Sankaram

Kamala Sankaram

NEWS: We’re thrilled and honored that Mukhtar Mai – whose historic bravery inspired “Thumbprint” – is traveling from Pakistan to witness her story told and join us for the talkbacks after each performance. If you don’t have a ticket yet, this is your chance to be part of this powerful moment.

A story set in Pakistan about a woman who rises from tragedy to empower others like her is the basis of Thumbprint – LA Opera’s next Off Grand presentation. We spent some time with Kamala Sankaram, who composed and also stars in Thumbprint, and got to know what led her to the story of Mukhtar Mai.

Kamala Sankaram’s life has always been filled with music. She started studying piano at age six and spent hours listening to classical music, traditional Hindustani music, and Broadway music. As an adult, she fell in love with the complexity of the music in opera, and would ultimately pursue a career first as a singer and later as a composer.

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