Charles Lane has worked with LA Opera since the beginning. He first appeared in the opening night production of Verdi’s Otello in 1986 and can currently be seen in La Bohème. In 30 years, Lane has performed in 70 different operas and 100 total productions. He is only one of 14 current members of the LA Opera Chorus (and 3 retired members), who can say this. We sat down with Lane to chat about his decades-long singing career and his time at LA Opera.
What led you to work for LA Opera?
I moved to Los Angeles from New York around the time that LA Opera was founded. I got into the Master Chorale and at the time they provided the chorus for LA Opera. So, I got to be in that first production of Otello alongside Plácido Domingo.
Why do you think you’ve stayed for so long?
The experience itself. It takes so much to produce an opera and it’s such an honor to be a part of that whole machine. Then, being able to stand on stage next to the greatest singers in the world and working with the most influential directors in the world, even Hollywood directors like Bruce Beresford. It’s extraordinary.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
There are so many! Singing in all the productions starring Plácido Domingo. Being on stage with him is very rewarding. He has such an incredible presence and energy.
What is one production that really struck you?
Lohengrin. We were supposed to open in September 2001, but when 9/11 happened, the opening was postponed. When we finally did open, it was so moving, because everyone came out on stage, and sang the National Anthem. I will always remember that production, because of the time that it happened. I loved that show.
What do you like about LA Opera’s production of La Bohème?
I have done this production four times. Every chorus member plays a vendor and I sell dates and caramels. The first time we did this production, it was really exciting. Despite this being the fourth time I’ve done this show, I think there is something really fresh and lively about the staging – thanks to Peter Kazaras. It’s the same concept, set, and costumes, but there was a little more energy, and you can tell that the audience really loved it.
What show are you most excited for next season?
I am excited for Macbeth. We did it once before – it was a kabuki themed production. I was in it 28 years ago. Verdi is my most favorite opera composer for chorus music. I don’t think there’s any other opera composer that shows off the chorus in the way that Verdi does. He gives you great music. You’re on stage the whole time and really part of the story. So, I am looking forwarding to revisiting the music.
Take a look at the below Pinterest board for some more backstage photos of Charles and to see production images of several of the shows he’s performed in.
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