Monthly Archives: February 2016

5 Silent Films To Watch Before Seeing The Magic Flute

<em>The Magic Flute</em> (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Barrie Kosky, Susanne Andrade, and Paul Barritt’s production of The Magic Flute is heavily inspired by the silent film era and the spirit of the roaring twenties. In Kosky’s words, “Papageno is suggestive of Buster Keaton, while Monostatos is a bit Nosferatu, and Pamina perhaps a bit reminiscent of Louise Brooks.” There are a plethora of silent films to check out before seeing The Magic Flute, as the silent film era was a rich time for the industry. Filmmakers explored the artistry of the cinematic medium, creating new stories and adapting classic – even operatic – works for a new audience (King Vidor’s excellent 1926 La Boheme film is definitely worth a movie night). Before you step into the world of The Magic Flute, here are a few silent films to watch to get you in the 1920s spirit.

Why Worry (1923)

Director Fred Newmeyer’s adventure comedy centers on hypochondriac Harold Lloyd, who escapes his rich, business focused life to the tropics, only to find himself in the middle of a revolution.

In our Magic Flute, Papageno is basically Buster Keaton with a Harold Lloyd Twist. Similar fashions, similar comedic impulses.

The Gold Rush (1925)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDlEvaKBkhU

Charlie Chaplin is the king of silent film comedies and The Gold Rush is arguably one of his best pictures. Chaplin stars as a lone prospector, who ventures to Alaska in search of gold, and falls in love with a woman named Georgia. Chaplin’s brand of slapstick comedy permeates the fantasy world of this Magic Flute.

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNooc1KH65Q

If you’re a Monostatos fan, you’ll love that his character is heavily inspired by Nosferatu. F.W. Murnau’s classic horror film, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, tells the story of Count Orlok and his interest in his real estate agent’s wife. The film has a subtle German Expressionist (the style of cinematography that later inspired film noir) feel that helps it retain its rightful place as one of the greatest classic horror films – a must-see for horror junkies everywhere. (LA Opera is presenting Nosferatu this Halloween at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.)

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2013/14 – An Iconic Season of Productions

Einstein on the Beach (2013); Photo: Robert Millard

Einstein on the Beach (2013); Photo: Robert Millard

LA Opera’s 2013/14 season was one of the company’s most memorable in recent years. While there were many stellar productions, three stand out as iconic: Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach, Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Jules Massenet’s Thaїs. The first two are examples of the progressive programming that LA Opera is known for, while the latter is exemplary of how well the company produces traditional operatic repertory.

Einstein on the Beach radically redefines what audiences might expect from opera, theater, or performance art. Director Robert Wilson reflected on his experiences of Glass’s radical work:

“Here, it’s a work where you go and you can get lost. That’s the idea. It’s like a good novel. You don’t have to understand anything. I went to the revival at BAM [Brooklyn Academy of Music] some years ago, and I was there for the opening, and then I went back a week later, and walked down the aisle. There was an empty seat, and I sat down, in the empty seat on the aisle, and Arthur Miller was sitting next to me. And after about 20 minutes he turned to me, and he didn’t know who I was, and he said, “What do you think about this?” I said, “I don’t know, what do you think?” And he said, “You know, I don’t get it.” I said, “You know, I don’t get it either.”

Following the progressive staging of Einstein on the Beach, LA Opera presented a truly inspiring production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (which returns this month). Staged entirely with projections inspired by the roaring twenties, this Magic Flute reimagined Mozart’s opera, giving it a wildly successful cinematic twist. Suzanne Andrade and Paul Barritt (co-founders of the London theater company, 1927) envisioned an inspiring production in collaboration with Barrie Kosky of Komische Oper Berlin. (Read more about their Magic Flute here.)

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#WordWednesday: Cadenza

CADENZA (19 Scrabble points) – Italian – A cadenza is an elaborate section (sometimes improvised) towards the end of an aria that allows the singer to really showcase what their voice can do, like the below “Flute Cadenza” in Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.

Interestingly enough, Donizetti never wrote such a section into his original score for Lucia. The section was added to showcase Nellie Melba’s coloratura singing during an 1889 performance at The Paris Opera. Other famous singers (Maria Callas, Joan Sutherland, and Beverly Sills) added their own flavor when playing Lucia. Check out Diana Damrau (who will play all four heroines in our 16/17 production of Tales of Hoffmann) tackling Lucia’s entire mad scene below, including the famous cadenza.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFR9Lho1a8A

Can’t get enough Diana Damrau? Get to know Diana Damrau in the articles that follow and get in the Damrau spirit.

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Iconic Productions: The Two Foscari

The Two Foscari (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

The Two Foscari (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Anticipating the 2013 celebrations surrounding the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, LA Opera opened its 2012/13 season with a new production of The Two Foscari starring Plácido Domingo. Rarely staged, Verdi’s opera explores themes of political power and family relationships, similar to his later work, Simon Boccanegra (which the company also staged that same season). Set in the languid canals and boisterous festivals of 15th-century Venice, the plot revolves around a father and son struggling to reclaim honor in a city that knows no mercy.

Can’t get enough Verdi? Check out the articles we’ve collected below and make sure you get your tickets to Verdi’s Macbeth, premiering this September.

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Community Circle: Opera For All

LA Opera has a great way for you to experience opera with your organization. Have you heard of it? The program is called Community Circle and it’s the perfect way for you to see the stellar mainstage productions we have this season (Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and La Boheme).

Embracing Our Community, One Voice At A Time.

We believe that experiencing and participating in the arts is a basic human right, essential to building community and part of LA Opera’s civic responsibility. Regardless of one’s background or means, opera is for everyone. We seek to ensure that everyone has access to opera and has an opportunity to participate in creating opera.

Through our Community Circle program, we are able to share the experience with students, low-income senior citizens, and underserved community groups. Hundreds of tickets are set aside in our orchestra level for every performance to accommodate these special groups, supplementing the extensive education and community outreach initiatives our company does throughout the year. (These tickets are not available for sale to the public.) Carefully selected groups will be able to experience opera at a significantly reduced price and, at times, even at no cost.

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What Kind of Opera Valentine Are You?

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the tile characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the title characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Opera is all about love. Passionate Love. Unrequited Love. Betrayed Love. Desperate Love. You-name-it love. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find out what kind of opera valentine you are.

The Storybook Romantic

You’re the kind of person, who appreciates storybook romance, even if it ends in tragedy. For you, it’s all Puccini, Verdi, and Mozart all the time. You can get down with the unrequited romance just as much as you can love the fantastical loves that conquer all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_B4yKMKmwA

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: Madame Butterfly

Other Operas to Check Out: The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Tosca

The Cinema Siren

You live and breathe film and love it when opera productions are inspired by your favorite movies or film eras (or when films use or are inspired by opera). Operatic love is like a good Classic Hollywood film; whether it ends happily or tragically, the love is always spectacular.

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: The Magic Flute

Other Operas to Check Out: La Boheme, Macbeth , Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

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Music Monday: Macbeth

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2015) in Valencia, Spain; Photo: Tato Baeza

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2015) in Valencia, Spain; Photo: Tato Baeza

There is no better composer than Giuseppe Verdi to tackle the darkly complex tragedy that is Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Fascinated by the supernatural and the bloody betrayal of Macbeth, Verdi composed the original opera in 1847, making dramatic additions in 1865 to create the masterpiece opera. Starring Plácido Domingo, Macbeth will kick off our upcoming season at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this September.

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