Author Archives: LA Opera Staff

BEING A MEMBER OF THE FRIENDS OF LA OPERA HAS ITS BENEFITS

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.

Friends of LA Opera

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LA Opera Goes on Tour with Puccini Opera Tales

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.

Puccini Opera Tales

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.

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The Tales of Hoffmann and the Thrill of Discovery

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.

The Tales of Hoffmann (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

The Tales of Hoffmann (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

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6 Treats You’ll Get at Plácido Domingo’s Superstar Celebration Concert

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.)

Simon Boccanegra (2012): Photo: Robert Millard

Simon Boccanegra (2012): Photo: Robert Millard

Duets
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

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Hear Why LA Opera Oracle Mark Lyons Loves The Tales of Hoffmann

Mark Lyons - LA Opera's Oracle

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.

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Britten at the Cathedral

Noah's Flood (2015); Photo: Ben Gibbs

Noah’s Flood (2015); Photo: Ben Gibbs

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

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Director Marta Domingo Discusses the Real Hoffmann

E.T.A. Hoffmann

E.T.A. Hoffmann

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.

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Come Over To Our House

Open House Lead Photo

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.

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Celebrate 10 Years of Artistic Leadership

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

James Conlon’s remarkable work with the LA Opera Orchestra has elevated LA Opera’s artistry to a new level of excellence. He has also brought lost works to life through the Recovered Voices project and, working closely with Plácido Domingo, has contributed enormously to developing a love for opera in our city.

From convening, citywide festivals to packing the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall during his pre-performance talks, Mr. Conlon has become one of the most visible advocates for classical music in Los Angeles.

This season, Maestro Conlon celebrates his tenth anniversary as LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, and he recently extended his contract to the 2020/2021 season.

LA Opera invites you to celebrate Maestro Conlon’s achievements by supporting the James Conlon Tenth Anniversary Initiative, which will provide critical funds to support new programing and further enhance our acclaimed orchestra.

Additionally, we’ve curated some articles, videos, and a podcast below to help you get to know Maestro Conlon and illustrate why he has become a beloved figure in the cultural life of Los Angeles.

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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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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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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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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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