Monthly Archives: February 2017

Opera Costumes You Could Totally Wear to the Oscars

Salome (2017); Photo: Ken Howard

Salome (2017); Photo: Ken Howard

It’s Oscars time and we are all waiting with baited breath to see whether La La Land takes home best picture. We’re also excited to see the glamorous looks stars don on the red carpet – some of which could totally be pulled straight from the opera stage.

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Zanaida Robles Inspires Students Through Opera

Zanaida Robles working with students during Opera Camp (2016)

Zanaida Robles working with students during Opera Camp (2016); Photo: Gennia Cui

She fell in love with music at the age of seven. Now, Zanaida Robles is an established singer, conductor, composer, and music instructor. As an LA Opera teaching artist, she’s bringing her experience and love for the music to work by inspiring the next generation of opera lovers.

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Hispanics for LA Opera Celebrates 25 Years

PD Domingo Award Photo

Hispanics for LA Opera was launched in February 1992 at the request of Peter Hemmings, then general director of LA Opera, with the enthusiastic support of Plácido Domingo. They were interested in engaging this vibrant, growing segment of the Los Angeles community education and welcoming them to the opera. Hemmings reached out to LA Opera subscribers and patrons Alicia and Ed Clark, who stepped forward to lead this effort by founding HLAO. Their leadership initiated an effort that has been an integral source of support for building the understanding and awareness of the operatic art form in Hispanic communities throughout Los Angeles.

Members of HLAO

Members of HLAO

Over the past 25 years, HLAO volunteers have enthusiastically promoted opera throughout the Hispanic community, encouraging attendance at performances and coordinating social activities that offer opportunities to learn more about the art form while getting to know other opera enthusiasts. They have enjoyed a large measure of success. In 1992, Hispanic attendees at LA Opera performances made up just 1% of the overall audience; today that figure is more than 14%. This is more than a tenfold increase!

In addition to promoting opera throughout the Hispanic community, HLAO hosts the annual Plácido Domingo Awards. This special event honors great Hispanic opera artists and civic leaders for their community service and support of the mission of HLAO. Over the years, a number of legendary artists have been the recipients of the award including Ramón Vargas, Ana María Martínez, Erwin Schrott, Juan Diego Flórez, Rolando Villazón, Suzanna Guzmán and Ailyn Pérez.

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James Conlon Joins Stephen Fry to Discuss Salome at American Cinematheque

Rita Hayworth Salome

Rita Hayworth as the title character in the classic 1953 film version of Salome

The story of Salome has inspired artists, filmmakers, and opera composers for centuries. Some adapted the original Biblical story – and scandalous Oscar Wilde play – while others have utilized elements from the tale of Salome to inform their own story. Nowhere does Salome’s story come to life more than in opera and on the silver screen.

To celebrate Salome in film and in opera, American Cinematheque and LA Opera have joined forces to present a special evening at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. First, there will be a screening of the famous 1953 film version of Salome starring Rita Hayworth. While the film takes liberties with the Biblical story, it is a perfect example of film epics in the “glory days of technicolor” and required viewing for both Salome and film enthusiasts. Following the screening, Maestro James Conlon (who conducts Salome at LA Opera starting on February 18) and actor Stephen Fry (who portrayed Oscar Wilde in the 1997 biopic) will discuss the importance of Salome in film and opera. All attendees will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to LA Opera’s production of Salome.

Before attending the evening at the Aero, get in the mood. We’ve pulled together a few films to watch and music from the opera.

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Props from The Abduction from the Seraglio To Know About

Share Set in the 1920s aboard the Orient Express, The Abduction from the Seraglio features some interesting props to look out for when seeing the show. Here’s a list of our top three favorites – see if you spot them … Continue reading

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Finding Love at the Opera

One of Anthony and Marta Richardson's engagement photos, taken outside of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

One of Anthony and Marta Richardson’s engagement photos, taken outside of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

When Anthony and Marta Richardson each bought tickets to a performance of LA Opera’s Simon Boccanegra in 2012, they had no idea they would end up finding love at the opera.

Before they ever met, Anthony and Marta were both frequent opera-goers. Marta, a teacher at the time (she’s now an elementary school principal at Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District), saw her first performance at LA Opera in 1997 and had since invited representatives of the Music Center and the LA Opera to speak to her students about opera and music. Anthony – an actor/singer turned financial consultant – had also attended shows at LA Opera since the late 1990s, even volunteering with the Opera League of Los Angeles. His assignment – shuffling artists from LAX to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

In March 2012, Anthony had tickets to see Simon Boccanegra.

“I had never seen Plácido Domingo perform before and was very excited,” says Anthony.

When his friend canceled, Anthony decided to have dinner at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse, thinking he might meet someone to whom he could give his extra ticket.

“When I got to the steakhouse, I spotted Marta and her friend at the bar and strategically sat next to them,” recalls Anthony. Marta replies jokingly, “That’s how men operate.”

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LA Opera Inspires Fashion Exhibit at FIDM Museum

FIDM 4

From the bonnet à la Figaro (an 18th-century fashion inspired by the hero of The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro), to the 1920s costumes in LA Opera’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, opera and fashion have always influenced each other. To celebrate the inextricable link between opera and fashion, LA Opera has partnered with FIDM Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles and inspired an exhibition called “Exotica: Fashion & Costume of the 1920s.”

FIDM 3

An evening dress designed by Natasha Rambova; circ 1927

This is the second time that LA Opera productions have inspired an exhibition at FIDM. In March 2015, FIDM Museum presented “Opulent Art: 18th-Century Dress.” This exhibition featured a rare original 18th-century Figaro costume worn during performances of The Marriage of Figaro. The exhibition also coincided with the company’s Figaro Unbound initiative (presented in connection with the company’s “Figaro Trilogy”: Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.

 

This time, “Exotica: Fashion & Costume of the 1920s” explores how films set in exotic locales influenced the fashion of the day. This exhibition is inspired by LA Opera’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, which is set in the Roaring Twenties on the famous Orient Express, traveling from Istanbul to Paris.

Surrounded by a giant Orient Express structure, various “exotic” clothing is displayed as if on a platform about to board the train. Several of the pieces are not so different from what the characters in The Abduction from the Seraglio might wear on their journey around the world, also reflecting the “east meets west” nature of the opera – and of Hollywood cinema in the 1920s (see The Sheik or The Thief of Baghdad).

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Why I Give: Steve McGinty

Steve McGinty

Steve McGinty

Steve McGinty is a computer software engineer, who spends his days providing technical support to commercial users of mainframe products. Outside of work, Mr. McGinty has a passion for opera, which has long been an important part of his life.

“Once a person has been exposed to opera, it can have a tremendous impact on their life,” says Mr. McGinty.

Mr. McGinty has been a season subscriber at LA Opera for many years and generously supports the company through annual contributions.

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About The Abduction from the Seraglio

Morris Robinson as Osmin (left) and Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Morris Robinson as Osmin (left) and Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Abduction from the Seraglio takes the stage two more time this month. In case you’ve missed the Roaring Twenties, Orient Express, and Mozart fun, we’ve collected a bunch of articles for you to check out below.

Get To Know The Abduction from the Seraglio

James Conlon Talks Mozart and The Abduction from the Seraglio

Maestro James Conlon, who is celebrating his 10th season as LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, discusses Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio.

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Patricia Racette Gets Into Salome’s Head

Share Soprano Patricia Racette’s 2016/17 season features a triple run of Salome, with recent performances for the Metropolitan Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, and now in Los Angeles, where it’s her fifth leading role. (She’ll also reprise the femme fatale for … Continue reading

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Salome’s Two Worlds Projected

LA Opera first presented its provocative production of Salome during its inaugural season in 1986. That iconic production featured a backdrop of hand painted, psychedelic projections envisioned by designer John Bury. Salome returns to LA Opera this month and features new projections that build upon Bury’s original designs and showcase the title character’s mental state throughout the opera.

Bury’s original projections (see below) were abstract and textural, containing a dark color scheme (reds, blues, and purples). Some projections feature shapes that look like bubbles or blood cells, while others create patterns using horizontal lines.

A still from John Bury's original projections

A still from John Bury’s original projections

Updated since their original use, the new projections are no longer hand painted. Projection Designer Alisa Lapidus digitized Bury’s projections and used them as the base for the new projections (which are both digital and animated). These new projections reflect director David Paul’s emphasis on Salome’s journey between two worlds – the one she lives in and the one in her head.

A still from the new projections for Salome

A still from the new projections for Salome

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Bring Your Family to the Opera for a Day of 1920s-Inspired Fun

On February 12, LA Opera will host its first family day of the season. Tickets to the matinee performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio are half-off for children and teens ages 9 to 17 (as always), and there will be several activities inspired by the Roaring Twenties-set production.

1920s Dance

1920s Dancing

Here are some of the fun activities for families on February 12:

Swing Into the 1920s Spirit with Dance Lessons

From 11:30am-12:40pm, members from MASS Historia will be on hand teaching families how to fox trot like its 1925. There will also be professional demonstrations and dancing open to everyone after the performance in Stern Grand Hall.

Painters Galore

Members from the California Art Club, one of the oldest and largest professional arts organizations in the country, will be staged throughout the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion capturing the spirit of family day in paintings and showing families how fun art and opera can be. … Continue reading

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Wear a 1920s Costume, Get Free Champagne

USE THIS MATT PICTURE

It’s time to dig out those flapper costumes and dapper suits! To celebrate our 1920s set production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, we’re inviting you to come to the February 16 performance dressed in your Roaring Twenties best.

Wear A 1920s Costume, Get Free Champagne – Here’s How It Works

  1. Arrive at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in your costume at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the show
  2. Get your picture taken on our red carpet by our Social Media Team
  3. Allow us to post on LA Opera social media and/or post on your Social Media accounts and tag us
  4. Receive a champagne voucher redeemable at any of the bars inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

 Rules:

  1. Only one free champagne voucher per person in costume.
  2. Must be 21 and over to receive a voucher. While supplies last. Valid only on Thur. Feb 16, 2017.

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Mozart and the Orient Express: Using Comedy to Transcend Cultural Differences

The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

LA Opera’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio is not a traditional staging of the Mozart treasure. Historically, the 18th-century comedic opera which follows the hero Belmonte as he tries to rescue his love Konstanze from the seraglio (“harem”) of Pasha Selim is set in the Pasha’s grand palace. Our staging, envisioned by director James Robinson, updates the story to the 1920s and sets the action entirely aboard the famed Orient Express, traveling from Istanbul to Paris.

The 1920s was a decade of transition—socially, politically and culturally. The world was still reeling from the Great War and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Grand world changes lend themselves well to the east-meets-west nature of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. This opera explores the comedy, not the tragedy, that arises when people from different cultures collide.

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Beyond Salome’s Veils

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

Salome the virgin vamp has had her ups and downs—from the opera stage to burlesque, from fine art to novelty songs like “When Miss Patricia Salome Did Her Funny Little Oo-La-Pa-Lome.” And who can forget Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, finally ready for her close-up, descending the staircase as the delusional Norma Desmond playing Salome? So many Salomes—one can only draw back the veils, one at a time, in order to get at the truth.

Unveiling Salome’s Origins

The mythical origins of Salome reach back to the ancient fertility figure Ishtar who performed a Welcome Dance to celebrate the renewal of nature. In classical times, this fertility figure became Demeter who gave humanity agriculture and her daughter Persephone who personified vegetation, withdrawing into the earth after the harvest only to return again in the spring. Most of us know the biblical Salome, whose name is similar to the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” and who appears in the books of Mark and Matthew, a beautiful virgin dancing to appease the lust of Herod.

But there was also a real Salome, born about 15 AD and married first to a Palestine governor and later to a ruler in Asia Minor. She also appears in the histories of Flavius Josephus, who was the first to name her as the daughter of Herodias, a detail retained by Seneca, Livy, and Plutarch.

"Salome in the Graden" by Gustave Moreau

“Salome in the Graden” by Gustave Moreau

Unveiling the Artful Salome

From these origins, we can already see a number of themes emerging: mysterious femininity, sexual power, a mixture of the earthy and the mystical. Interest in Salome grew as Europeans encountered other cultures through conquest or exploration, especially following Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt and Syria. A fascination with the orient spread throughout Europe in architecture, painting and the decorative arts. This orientalism (a controversial but useful term) also flowered in literature. The appearance in the late eighteenth century of the French translation of One Thousand and One Nights was followed by English versions in the nineteenth century, some bowdlerized for Victorian readers, some with all the juicy bits. It is easy to imagine Salome as the naughty cousin of Scheherazade, the resourceful and imaginative narrator of Nights who kept herself from being beheaded by entertaining the king with fascinating tales.

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