For the past few weeks, our props, costumes, and wig/makeup teams – the same people who created a scarily realistic head of the John the Baptist for Salome – have been working on their latest bit of opera magic. They’re not just creating a head, but an entire body to look like one of the characters in Tosca.
That character? Cesare Angelotti.
Angelotti (played in our production by Nicholas Brownlee) is an escaped political prisoner given sanctuary by the opera’s hero, Mario Cavaradossi (Russell Thomas). While Angelotti evades capture for most the opera, he’s ultimately cornered by Scarpia’s thugs. In our production, Angelotti’s corpse is hung by the neck. When this happens, the singer is replaced by a “stunt double,” or in other words, a mannequin that’s dressed and styled to resemble the singer.
Making the body double is a multi-tiered process that starts with sourcing the dummy.
Properties Coordinator Lisa Coto sources the dummy. We started with an articulated dummy used for search and rescue and CPR training. Coto chose this dummy, because it’s well-made. It’s a heavy dummy (60lbs) and the limbs dangle like a real person; in other words, it’s very lifelike.
After Coto sources the dummy, she delivers it to Costume Design Manager Jeannique Prospere. Prospere and her team make sure that the dummy’s costumes match Angelotti’s costume – an off-white, striped prison uniform, with blue/grey pants and jacket. Since Angelotti has been in prison, it’s not enough for the team to replicate the costumes. They also must distress, age, and dye the costume to make it look like the dummy has suffered the same trauma as the live character of Angelotti.
Women Rock – on television, in film and in opera – Tosca Rocks!
Girl Power has been around a long time – and it’s at the center of many conversations today. The more we’ve gotten to know the title character of Tosca – in anticipation of its opening on April 22nd – it’s clear that she is the epitome of Girl Power. She’s certainly not a wallflower – she’s courageous, she’s loyal and she’s fierce. In the spirit of Tosca, we’ve rounded up some powerful women and their stories to get us inspired and in the mood.
Daenerys – Game of Thrones
Daenerys rose from being sold by her brother in exchange for an army to becoming one of the most powerful forces in the Seven Kingdoms. Whether she’s freeing the slaves in Meereen or blowing up enemy ships via her dragons, she’s a total fighter. Judging from the latest promo, Daenerys will continue fighting for what she wants – the Iron Throne. Like Tosca, she controls her destiny. … Continue reading
Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey had two passions growing up: soccer and singing. Though a series of life events eventually led her to pursue classical music, her time spent as the only girl on sports teams worked in her favor, carrying over lessons from her time as “one of the boys” into her celebrated career. On April 15, Lindsey finishes another run of her signature role, Nicklausse, in LA Opera’s production of Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, alongside Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau.
Though opera-goers have established Lindsey as one of today’s leading interpreters of trouser roles, she never set out wanting to become a singer — instead, she feels that music found her, and that’s ultimately what drew her in.
Tara Colburn, born Tarasenka Pankiv in Zagreb, Croatia, grew up surrounded by music and the arts. She studied piano with her concert pianist mother and her grandfather was director of the Zagreb Conservatory. A lifelong supporter of the arts, Ms. Colburn served as an active board member of LA Opera since the company’s founding year in 1986. She was one of the company’s most dedicated supporters for nearly two decades before her death in 2003. She established the Tarasenka Pankiv Fund through a bequest (a directive in her will) that continues to support LA Opera productions, including the upcoming presentation of Tosca.
On April 21, LA Opera is hosting a master class for undergraduate and graduate students taught by Eli Villanueva, LA Opera’s resident stage director for education and community engagement. Five students from different schools across Los Angeles – chosen from LA Opera’s College Advisory Committee – will sing and Villanueva will coach them on performance and musicality. Students are encouraged to sign-up for the master class to learn the secrets behind compelling storytelling, musicality, and crafting a personalized approach to opera performance.
Master classes are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and on college campuses and offer students the chance to connect with the artists that make the opera magic happen. Students watch these professionals work and see firsthand what it takes to pursue careers in the arts – and in opera, specifically.
Everyone has their limits – Tosca’s plight reflects today’s world more than Puccini could have imagined.
Tosca is one of the greatest works of music theatre ever written and its importance is undiminished more than a century after Puccini wrote it. Its narrative is deceptively simple. It involves the lives of three principal characters. Mario Cavaradossi is a talented young painter, earning his living by creating ecclesiastical art in Roman churches. Floria Tosca, his lover, is a well-known opera singer, adored by her public. Baron Scarpia is the chief of police in a military state that is cracking down on all opposition, including artists and the support they draw.
Since 1997, Hispanics for LA Opera (HLAO) has hosted the Plácido Domingo Awards. The awards ceremony – which honors distinguished Hispanic opera artists and others who have contributed to the success of HLAO – was held last night at the home of the LA Opera, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall. In addition to honoring this year’s winners – Rafa Sardina and Joshua Guerrero – the awards also celebrated the 25th Anniversary of HLAO.
First, there was Richard Simmons. Then, we had Billy Banks Tae Bo. Next, came Pilates and every kind of yoga you can imagine. Way back in the day, there was Jazzercise.
Now, there’s Opera-cise.
Just this morning, LA Opera has released a workout DVD called “Sweatin’ to the Opera.” From Puccini to Bizet, get into tip top shape, while listening to some of opera’s greatest hits. Get your blood pumping and your metabolism soaring, while you strike poses inspired by the staging in LA Opera’s iconic productions, and workout alongside some of LA Opera’s favorite singers.
The Opera-cize Craze is about to take off. Whether you’re looking for a beach body, a six-pack or just to burn off some steam, there’s a workout for you. Here’s a peek at some of the poses that will surely get you that perfect physique.
Get Your Tales of Hoffmann on with our Doll Arms Press
Perfect for building boulder shoulders
Brian Michael Moore has lived a fuller life in 24 years than most people do in a lifetime — in barely a quarter of a century, the young tenor has beaten cancer twice, lived in multiple states and has shared the stage with some of the world’s most esteemed musicians. Currently in his first season as a Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist, Moore has already been seen in the company’s productions of Wonderful Town and Salome. This month and next, he’s playing Nathanaël in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann and sharing the stage with opera superstars Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau.
Prior to his time in Los Angeles, the Cincinnati native attributes his musical beginnings to his parents, who enrolled him in piano lessons as a small child. Though neither of them “were that musical,” as Moore states, classical music was a big part of his childhood development. While balancing school and sports, his first taste of the limelight came in the seventh grade, after he was cast in the ensemble of his school’s production of Oliver! — however, the opportunity was over for him before it even began.
“I was never told when rehearsals would start or where they were, so I just never showed up,” Moore laughs. “And then they performed it and I thought ‘Well, I guess I could have been in that.’”
Though his stage career began rocky, Moore eventually became serious about pursuing singing professionally. He participated in his school’s musical the following year, singing in the Barbershop Quartet in “The Music Man.” And after taking the advice from his middle school musical director, he began taking formal voice lessons the summer before he entered high school, where he was first exposed to classical singing.
LA Opera is a non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good. We rely on generous contributions to produce the world-class opera you see on the stage, around the county and through our many education and community engagement programs. By becoming a member of the Friends of LA Opera with a tax-deductible contribution, you’re helping us share opera with the Los Angeles community – and receiving several benefits along the way, such as the ones listed below.
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is not the only place in Los Angeles where you can experience an LA Opera production. You can see our productions at REDCAT, inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and even at Santa Monica Pier. LA Opera has many programs and initiatives that bring opera to various locations in the county and make sure everyone has access to opera.
In partnership with the County of Los Angeles Public Library and with generous support provided by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe (4th district) and Supervisor Hilda Solis (1st district), LA Opera brings professional opera singers to libraries around Los Angeles to perform musical moments from the most celebrated operas for families. Next month’s Puccini Opera Tales has the singers recounting tales from The Girl of the Golden West, Gianni Schicchi, and Turandot, as told by Giacomo Puccini himself.
Brian Kellow wasn’t always an opera lover. One fateful performance of The Tales of Hoffmann changed his mind. He shares his story below.
A favorite topic among opera lovers is the Great Conversion Moment—the performance at which the key mysteriously turned, and opera became something more than an outpouring of beautiful melody and instead became something we began to understand on a gut level, something we began to crave.
LA Opera is hosting a special concert on April 1 and here are some reasons why this concert is not-to-be-missed.
Domingo, Domingo, Domingo
When Plácido Domingo is your general director, you get the benefits of his artistic vision, his influence and his talent. For this one-night only concert, Maestro Domingo has brought together some of the worlds most acclaimed opera singers – Sondra Radvanovsky, Diana Damrau and Nicolas Testé. He’s also invited back many celebrated alumni of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program, including Joshua Guerrero, So Young Park and Brenton Ryan. They’ll sing together and alongside the very talented artists currently in the distinguished program. And as if singing weren’t enough, when he’s not singing, he’ll conduct the LA Opera Orchestra. (When he is singing, Resident Conductor Grant Gershon will take the reins.)
The world of opera is filled with famous duets – some romantic, some reflective, some heroic. Here’s what we’re excited about: Plácido Domingo and Sondra Radvanovsky singing the recognition scene from Simon Boccanegra and the beloved Merry Widow duet (“Lippen schweigen”); Domingo joining with tenor Joshua Guerrero for the gorgeous Pearl Fishers duet; as well as Diana Damrau and Nicolas Testé performing the seductive “Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni. … Continue reading
Every company has an oracle. He/she is the person who has been at the company a while, knows just about everything and is willing to share it with you. They know a lot yet don’t make you feel bad that you might not; and, they have a way of educating while entertaining and guiding you to be as passionate about something as they are.
At LA Opera – that’s Mark Lyons. Mark is the Associate Director of Communications and Publications. Mark has been with LA Opera since 2003 and when we say he knows just about everything there is to know about opera, it’s because he’s been in it and around it his entire adult life.
When James Conlon became LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director in 2006, one of the first initiatives he brought to the company was the Cathedral Project. A partnership between LA Opera and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Cathedral Project brings community singers and musicians together with LA Opera artists to present an opera to the public. For over a decade, it has been a key feature of the company’s community engagement and an opera that performers, teaching artists, and audience members look forward to each year. Conlon, who conducts these performances every year, is “thrilled that Los Angeles families have responded to community productions with so much enthusiasm and appreciation.” … Continue reading
E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), who in homage to Mozart changed his third name to that of Amadeus, was a writer, music critic, painter, graphic artist and lawyer—a man of many talents who lacked the most important gift of all: how to find happiness.
When Hoffmann was two years old, his father abandoned his mother, who returned to live with her parents. He was surrounded by a depressed mother who was always sick, an unmarried aunt and a retired uncle—this was hardly an ideal environment for a happy childhood. A restless boy, he grew up rebellious and nonconformist. To escape this oppressive reality, Hoffmann developed an enormous fantasy life, from which he fashioned his own surreal world. He became an extraordinary exponent of supernatural, bizarre and almost diabolical tales.
Though very successful as a writer, he never overcame the frustration of not being the musician he had dreamed of becoming. Nor was he ever successful in finding the stability he searched so much for in his private life. A very unstable man, he always fell in love with the wrong woman at the wrong time, knocking on the forbidden doors of madness, alcohol or artificial paradises.
If E.T.A. Hoffmann were alive today, he’d be on The Bachelor. He’d be meeting the wrong women, falling for them, and ultimately having his heart broken. EVERY TIME.
While it sounds like he’s a brooding artist with a dark soul – he’s really just a drunk guy at a tavern tripping out on his lost loves.
Over the course of his short life, Hoffmann falls for three women…and each failed love story he shares transports you to a world of whimsy, deception or magic spells.
(Check out The Tales of Hoffmann movie below to get a taste of the magic the opera inspires.)
Rather than three sheets to the wind – Hoffmann tells three tales.
The tradition of opening one’s home up to visitors, welcoming them in to explore and discover and become a part of the intimate environment, has been an evolving part of community living for centuries. Open house history dates back at least as far as biblical times and exists in many cultural and religious customs. From weddings to wakes, royalty to presidents, realtors to school teachers, these communal celebrations are an opportunity to welcome guests into your space and share something—knowledge, experience, camaraderie.
In honor of this grandest and oldest of traditions, LA Opera is opening its home and welcoming all to join us in a day of fun and function. On Sunday, March 26, we are offering free activities for all ages and all levels of opera awareness. Come visit the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion between 10 am and 6 pm for interactive experiences, creative workshops, professional performances, behind the scenes tours and unique presentations. Discover the glamorous décor and rich history of this house. You’re invited to come meet the opera and get to know the great people who inhabit this space.