Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Internship of a Lifetime

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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WATCH: Christopher Koelsch Talks Bringing New Audiences To LA Opera

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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What’s In Store For 2017/18

2017/2018 Season Mainstage Operas

2017/2018 Season Mainstage Operas

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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Opera Summer Playlist

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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An Opera-Filled Bike Ride

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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Mukhtar Mai Travels To LA To See The Opera She Inspired

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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The Sounds of Thumbprint, what makes them?

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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Writing Mukhtar Mai’s Story

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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Directing Thumbprint

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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Why I Give: Brian Wong

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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