Author Archives: LA Opera Staff

Hispanics for LA Opera Celebrates 25 Years

Members of HLAO

Members of HLAO

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.

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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

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 while … 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

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 a … 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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Open Door Days – Just Another Day at the Opera

Preparing translations from Carmen for Open Door Days interactive performance

Preparing translations from Carmen for Open Door Days interactive performance

While we’re onstage rehearsing for our upcoming productions, our education and community engagement team has been preparing to launch another special program – Open Door Days.

Open Door Days is a light-hearted introduction to the “big ideas” of opera. This new program, which begins today, offers the opportunity to explore opera’s most beloved music and get a behind-the-scenes look at how an opera house works.

This includes learning about supertitles.

Just like we do during our mainstage shows, we help the audience follow the story by translating the sung text into English. During an interactive performance at Open Door Days, our trio of intrepid singers explain and demonstrate how supertitles work during the aria “Votre toast, je peux vous le rendre” from the opera Carmen, more popularly known as The Toreador Song.

Rehearsing for Open Door Days

Rehearsing for Open Door Days

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An Opera-Filled Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again. The Season of Love. It’s the perfect time to show your romantic side, and nothing says romance like an evening of Mozart or Strauss. Ever thought of surprising the ones you love with the gift of opera on Valentine’s Day? Here’s a list of the most romantic operas to give your significant other the opera experience of a lifetime.

The Abduction from the Seraglio

This Mozart treasure is perfect for a fun, romantic evening at the opera. Our production is set in the 1920s and has the feeling of a classic screwball comedy (think Bringing Up Baby). It’s light, it’s funny and it’s perfect for any first – first opera, first date. With two intermissions, there’s time to share some bubbly while enjoying an evening together.

En route from Istanbul to Paris, two beautiful damsels in distress are held captive aboard the luxurious Orient Express by a notorious Ottoman royal. It’s up to their faithful lovers to rescue them before it’s too late! James Conlon conducts a brilliant ensemble of soloists, including bass Morris Robinson as the Pasha’s delightfully nefarious henchman Osmin. Hamish Linklater makes his company debut in the pivotal role of the Pasha Selim.

Salome

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

If you’re looking for a short, but thrilling night at the opera, Salome is the opera to give your loved on Valentine’s Day. Filled with unbridle passion and seduction, this one will give you lots to talk about.

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James Conlon Talks Salome

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

“Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensations. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both.”

Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Arriving on the heels of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio in our season, it is difficult to compare these totally different works without reflecting on how the world had changed. European civilization was sitting on a fault line when Richard Strauss wrote Salome. Strauss, who placed “the miracle Mozart, immediately after Bach,” could not turn to the latter for operatic prototypes, but found immeasurable inspiration in Mozart’s operas.

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Hear Morris Robinson Discuss His Journey to the Opera Stage

Morris Robinson; Photo: Ron Cadiz

Morris Robinson; Photo: Ron Cadiz

On January 28, Morris Robinson returns to LA Opera as Osmin in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. The talented bass has sung in the world’s greatest opera houses in the last decade, but he did not always dream about a career in opera.

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

In this edition of our collaboration with Living with A Genius, hear Robinson discuss Osmin and what led him to become an opera singer.

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Get To Know the 2017/2018 Season

We’ve just announced the 2017/2018 season and it’s all about the new. Five of the six mainstage productions are new to Los Angeles and two of them are company premieres. There will also be two major concerts – the first celebrating the 50th anniversary of Plácido Domingo’s first appearance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the second featuring Audra McDonald.

Can’t wait for the excitement to begin? Take a look below and get to know all the 17/18 season has in store for Los Angeles.

MAINSTAGE PRODUCTIONS
(presented at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

Ana María Martínez returns as the famous opera femme fatale in Carmen

(Sep 9–Oct 1, 2017; production new to L.A.) — Georges Bizet

James Conlon conducts a cast that also features Alexander Vinogradov as Escamillo and Amanda Woodbury as Micaëla. The production is directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, winner of Tony, Emmy and Olivier Awards.

After seeing Carmen, experience The Pearl Fishers another Bizet gem

(Oct 7–28, 2017; company premiere) — Georges Bizet
Plácido Domingo and Grant Gershon will each conduct performances of a rarely performed treasure, directed by Penny Woolcock. Nino Machaidze returns as Leïla, her seventh leading role in Los Angeles, with superstar tenor Javier Camarena making his company debut as Nadir. The cast also includes Alfredo Daza as Zurga and Nicholas Brownlee as Nourabad.

Plácido Domingo and James Conlon unite for Nabucco

(Oct 14–Nov 19, 2017; production new to L.A.) — Giuseppe Verdi
Plácido Domingo sings the title role of the monumental opera that made Verdi famous, conducted by James Conlon. Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger, the production also features Liudmyla Monastyrska in her LAO debut as Abigaille, with Morris Robinson as Zaccaria, Mario Chang as Ismaele and Nancy Fabiola Herrera as Fenena.

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Happy Birthday Plácido Domingo!

Plácido Domingo

Plácido Domingo

Today is Plácido Domingo’s birthday. To celebrate, here are some articles and images that showcase his work at LA Opera over the years.

Get to know Maestro Domingo by reading the articles below and check out images of Maestro Domingo on our Domingo at LA Opera Pinterest Board.

Domingo at LA Opera

Domingo at LA Opera

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10-Year-Olds Perform Opera and Learn About History Along the Way

Elementary In-School Opera

Elementary In-School Opera

Rehearsals are in full swing for LA Opera’s Elementary In-School Opera program. This annual five-week residency brings LA Opera teaching artists and staff into 15 elementary schools across the county to rehearse, stage, and perform an opera. While teaching artists are cast as principal roles, the students are cast in ensemble and smaller roles, often getting their first taste of opera and learn about California history along the way.

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Pittance Chamber Music Presents Concert with Special Guest James Conlon

James Conlon (Photo by Chester Higgins; Members of Pittance Chamber Music

James Conlon (Photo by Chester Higgins; Members of Pittance Chamber Music

Pittance Chamber Music, comprised of members of the LA Opera Orchestra, will host their next concert on February 3. Special guest James Conlon will be conducting Pittance Chamber Music in Mozart’s sublime Serenade in B-flat, K.361, known as the “Gran Partita.”  As Pittance is a chamber music organization, its ensembles are small and normally don’t require a conductor. However, the size and scope of the “Gran Partita” makes it difficult to put together without one, and it is exciting that Maestro Conlon has agreed to move from the pit to the stage for this concert.

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James Conlon Talks Mozart and The Abduction from the Seraglio

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

“Nothing is as ugly as vengeance, whereas the quality of great souls is to be humanely kind and forgive without selfishness.” (Act III, The Abduction from the Seraglio*)

In the final months of his life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed two operas, written simultaneously in 1791: The Magic Flute, a German Singspiel (“singing play”) alternating musical numbers with spoken dialogue; and La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), an Italian opera seria. He might just as well have given his earlier Singspiel, 1782’s The Abduction from Seraglio, a different title: The Clemency of Pasha Selim. After all, the planned abduction fails to materialize. And of the many issues addressed in this work, the rejection of vengeance and the power of forgiveness are at its center, embodied in the person of Pasha Selim.

Impatient to impress Kaiser Joseph II, one of Europe’s greatest Enlightenment monarchs, Mozart jumped at the opportunity to “lift the national German stage to recognition in music!” He showed that not just he, but German music, could be freed from the virtual monopoly of Italian opera. Taking the popular form of Singspiel, he merges it with Italianate sophistication. This, in time, would lead to The Magic Flute, Beethoven’s Fidelio and the 19th-century German genre of Spieloper (“opera play”).

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

Mozart was 20 when British historian and man of letters Horace Walpole reiterated in a private letter what was to become his famous epigram: “The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.” The highly cultured Walpole might even have heard about the young genius from Salzburg.

Comedies make us think through provoking laughter and humor. Tragedies and melodramas make us feel, and sometimes weep. In the 18th century, Italian opera was compartmentalized: opera buffa made us laugh, opera seria made us think. Most importantly, they both pleased the ear. Mozart clouded this distinction by elevating the level of comic opera to deal with more serious subjects.

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Salome Cover Art Contest Winners Announced

Salome Art Contest Winner - Marshall Dahlin

Salome Art Contest Winner – Marshall Dahlin

The votes are in…Congratulations to our winners!

This past fall, LA Opera hosted a contest for currently enrolled college art and design students in southern California. Students were asked to submit artwork for LA Opera’s spring production of Strauss’s Salome for a chance to be featured on the cover of the show’s performance program and displayed at the home of LA Opera, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Thanks to the generous support of GRoW @ Annenberg, more than 35 students from 14 different southern California institutions competed for cash prizes and to see their artwork on this season’s Salome program cover. The winners were chosen by a jury, chaired by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of the Annenberg Foundation and by Regina Weingarten, a member of the LA Opera board of directors. The jury also included Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera President and CEO; Diane Bergman, LA Opera Vice President of Marketing and Communications; Keith Rainville, LA Opera Brand Manager; and Tim Johnson, Film Director at DreamWorks Animation and a member of the LA Opera board of directors. We are pleased to announce our three winners: Marshall Dahlin, David Kwock, and Lauren Moss.

The top submission (see below), by Marshall Dahlin of Cal State Fullerton, was selected for the Salome cover, and earned him a $5,000 prize.

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