Author Archives: LA Opera Staff

Susan Graham – A Dream Mentor Arrives at LA Opera

Susan Graham (center) with LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists (from left: Taylor Raven, Joshua Wheeker, Juan Carlos Heredia, Carlos Enrique Santelli, Theo Hoffmann, Milena Gligic, Aurelia Andrews, Brian Michael Moore, Liv Redpath, Elizabeth Zharoff, and Michelle Siemens)

Susan Graham (center) with LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists (from left: Taylor Raven, Joshua Wheeker, Juan Carlos Heredia, Carlos Enrique Santelli, Theo Hoffman, Milena Gligic, Aurelia Andrews, Brian Michael Moore, Liv Redpath, Elizabeth Zharoff, and Michelle Siemens)

Grammy Award-winner Susan Graham is a legend.

For decades, the mezzo-soprano has been one of opera’s greatest stars. She’s shared her voice with audiences worldwide and mastered an astonishing range of repertoire from classics like the title character in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea (unforgettable at LA Opera in 2006) to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (a role written for her). This season, she adds another great role to her expanding resume: Artistic Advisor to LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein young artists.
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Pittance Is Back!

Members of Pittance Chamber Music

Members of Pittance Chamber Music

This Saturday afternoon, Pittance Chamber Music returns!

Pittance is comprised of LA Opera Orchestra Principals and for this concert, in particular, Steven Becknell and Stuart Clark are performing chamber works featuring their instruments.

The concert will also feature Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists Elizabeth Zharoff and Milena Gligic.
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Amanda Woodbury Returns To LA Opera

Amanda Woodbury

Amanda Woodbury

Since “graduating” from our Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program in 2014, soprano Amanda Woodbury has become one of opera’s rising stars. She’s sung Musetta in La bohème here at LA Opera, Konstanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio at Dayton Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, and multiple roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including a star turn as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Leïla in The Pearl Fishers. Now, Woodbury returns to sing Micaëla in Carmen, the role with which she made her professional here in 2013.

Before our last orchestra tech, we caught up with Woodbury to discuss how she fell into opera and how her performance of Micaëla has evolved.
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Sir Peter Hall – An Incredible Talent

Share The peerless stage director Sir Peter Hall (November 22, 1930 – September 11, 2017) was the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a former director of the National Theatre in London, and had a thriving career in the world’s … Continue reading

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Falling in Love with Opera Helped Change Ting Perlis’s Life

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

A few months ago, we received an extraordinary letter from Deborah Perlis.

Perlis’s daughter, Ting, took part in two of our education and community engagement programs, and Deborah was eager to share with us just how much Ting’s opera experience helped change her life.

When Ting was diagnosed with autism at the age of 10, she and her mother Deborah didn’t know what do. For the next few years, all they heard from professionals was a laundry list of things that Ting would never do or have. Ting struggled in school, had low self-esteem and rarely spoke of her future, except to ask what would become of her.

Despite all the challenges Ting faces every day, she has always had a love of singing.

On a whim, Deborah reached out to our Education and Community Engagement team to discuss some options for Ting. With their help, Ting began her journey at LA Opera.
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In the Pit: Olivia Tsui

Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

A proud member of the first violin section in Los Angeles Opera Orchestra for a quarter century, Olivia Tsui has been successfully pursuing her career ever since completing her violin studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Her westward journey began in 1986, when Olivia arrived in the U.S. to continue her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, followed by USC where she studied under Alice Schönfeld. Quickly becoming active in the Los Angeles music scene, she joined the LA Opera (LAO) Orchestra in 1992, followed by appearances with other local orchestras and chamber groups.
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Carmen is in its final week of rehearsal

Share On September 9, we open the 17/18 season with Carmen. If you’ve been following along on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, you’ve seen some of our behind-the-scenes fun: rehearsals, set building, and even flamenco dancing. As we wrap up rehearsals … Continue reading

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Attention Campers – Arias That Make the Bears Go Away

Shawnet Sweets, our resident opera junkie is at it again.

So Young Park as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann (2017); Photo: Ken Howard

In addition to work and all her other adventures, Shawnet is a camper. During a recent critter-interrupted camping trip, Shawnet discovered that some of her favorite arias startled and shooed her uninvited visitors away. Those visitors were bears.

Just in time for the final weekend of summer, she’s shared her “Bear-Scare Aria Playlist” with us.

Forget the traditional banging of pots and pans. If you’re headed to the wilderness to cap off the summer this Labor Day Weekend, be sure to take these tunes along. You’ll enjoy them and it might keep those pesky bears away.
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Bringing Carmen to Life Through Dance

Rehearsals for our 17/18 season opening production of Carmen are in full swing.

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

In addition to hearing wonderful singers perform the opera’s many hits like “Habanera,” we get to watch talented dancers tell Carmen’s story through flamenco.

These dancers are led by Spanish choreographer Nuria Castejón, whose career as a dancer (working for acclaimed Ballet Nacional de España and Compania Antonio Gades) evolved into a long-standing career as an opera, theater, and film choreographer. While Castejón has worked on many plays and as Penelope Cruz’s dance advisor on the Pedro Almodóvar film Volver, opera holds a special place in her heart.

“I adore opera,” says Castejón. “My parents were actors and lyric singers. They did a lot of operetta and zarzuela – sometimes even working with Plácido Domingo’s mother.”

Castejón brings this love of opera to every production she choreographs.

This includes classics like The Barber of Seville, Luisa Fernanda (with which she made her LA Opera debut in 2007) and now to Carmen.
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Opera Takes Your Evening Commute to the Next Level

Picture this: It’s the end of the workday and you’re trudging through Union Station to catch the train or bus home. Out of the corner of your eye, you see someone dancing flamenco. What? Flamenco dancers in the station? Suddenly, your evening commute is transformed into something greater.

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

On Thursday August 31 (5:00pm), in partnership with Metro we’re bringing opera to Union Station to add some excitement to your evening commute. From 5-7pm, catch Metro Arts: LA Opera at Union Station and experience a taste of Carmen, inspired by our upcoming production. (Hint: That means great singers performing music from Carmen and other performers dancing flamenco.)

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What’s It Like To Be An LA Opera Teaching Artist?

Laurie Peebler

Laurie Peebler

Laurie Peebler first joined LA Opera as a dancer.

She  performed in all four operas of Wagner’s Ring Cycle spanning our company’s 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons. Prior to joining LAO, Peebler’s performance background was focused on classical theater and small dance productions.

“I considered myself a Shakespeare nerd with movement experience when I auditioned for The Ring beside a mix of actors, dancers, stunt performers, circus artists and puppeteers,” Peebler explains. “The director led us through physical storytelling exercises that uniquely suited my skill set. I booked the job, my first time working in the world of opera, and it changed my life.”

Laurie Peebler working with kids through Secondary In-School Opera

Laurie Peebler working with kids through Secondary In-School Opera

 

After working on the Ring Cycle, Peebler went on to be featured in LA Opera’s La Cenerentola as well.

Then personal developments led to a shift in professional priorities.

“I became a mom and wanted more control over my schedule,” says Peebler. “At the same time, I hoped to stay connected to this amazing company and to feed my love of performing.”

That’s when Peebler traded late night rehearsals and day-long auditioning for working with kids as part of our Secondary In-School Opera (SISO) program.

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Reasons to See Carmen

In just a few short weeks – on September 9, we’ll kick off our 17/18 season with Carmen. It’s one of the greatest operas – filled with passion and drama and promises to thrill opera-lovers and newbies alike.

Wondering why you should see it? Wonder no more. We’ve rounded up just a few reasons why it’s a must-see.

You know the music.

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Whether it’s in a commercial or your favorite TV show, chances are you’ve probably heard one or all three of those pieces from Carmen. Knowing the tune or words to a song makes every live experience that much better – be it a concert or musical theater. Opera is no different. And since you know these songs – you’ll love this show.

Check out the use of “Habanera” in the Pixar film Up.

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Get To Know Ana María Martínez

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

Twenty Years of Singing in Los Angeles

One of the world’s most acclaimed opera stars, soprano Ana María Martínez first graced the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage in 1997 singing Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème. This was not long after she took a top prize in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition. Since then, she has sung five roles in six LA Opera productions—Violetta in La Traviata, Mimi (in two different seasons), Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Nedda in Pagliacci, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly. In September, she will mark her 20th anniversary in L.A. by making another LA Opera role debut as the fiery Carmen in Bizet’s eponymous opera.
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LA Opera: For The Greater Good

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Did you know that LA Opera is a non-profit?

Many people don’t realize that most arts organizations are non-profits, built to help people find common ground and an emotional connection.

LA Opera is no different. We strive to bring opera to everyone, because we know how opera’s unique combination of classical music, storytelling, and visual arts, when simultaneously shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people, can be awe-inspiring.
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Get a Taste of Opera Magic at Newcomer

Guests enjoy a concert at Grand Avenue Arts 2015

Guests enjoy a concert in Stern Grand Hall

Our Newcomer Open House

If you’ve never seen an opera, at least not one at LA Opera, and wonder what makes it so special, here’s your chance to see, hear and experience what’s in store this season. On Sunday, August 20, we’re opening out doors at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and invite you to our Newcomer Open House.

Hear a recital of selections from the coming season performed by our talented members of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, grab a bite, sip some wine or a cocktail and learn more about the makings of an opera production.
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James Conlon Talks the Carmen Myth

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

Georges Bizet’s last opera has struck deeply into the soul of Western Civilization.

Its music is universally loved and its meaning constantly analyzed, debated and reinterpreted. As a protagonist, Carmen is unique. Contrary to many mythological characters who served as operatic subjects, she transcended her stage existence and then evolved into an archetype, a popular and modern myth. Unlike Don Juan, Faust and numerous Greek, Roman and Nordic mythological characters adapted for the opera stage, Carmen had little prehistory. But like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, her obvious male counterpart, she became immortal thanks to the genius of a composer. The protagonist of a short story by Prosper Mérimée, she was perfectly realized the moment Bizet set her to music.

Who is Carmen and what does she represent?

Ask a dozen opera lovers, and there will be a dozen answers. Evil temptress, femme fatale, erotic demon, 19th-century Eve for some; victim of racism, gender inequality and social injustice, symbol of emancipation and feminine empowerment for others.
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Carmen on the silver and small screens

Look up most major opera composers on IMDb and you’ll get a list with hundreds of credits. Georges Bizet –famous composer of Carmen– is no exception. Music from Carmen can be heard in a variety of works, including the Pixar film Up. Carmen has also inspired several film adaptions, including the Academy-award nominated 1954 Carmen Jones.

We’ve rounded up some uses of Carmen on the silver and small screens to check out before seeing our production on September 9.

Up

In Up, Carl Frederickson, following the death of his wife Ellie, fulfills his lifelong dream of moving to Paradise Falls, but unbeknownst to him, eight-year-old Russell has tagged along. “Habanera” from Carmen is used early in the film, showcasing the monotony of Carl’s life without his wife.

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Why I Love Opera Camp

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Spring, 2016.

I’d been refreshing my email constantly for days on end, anxiously waiting for the email holding my fate. I auditioned for Opera Camp about a month earlier, and had been waiting for the results ever since. I’d found out about the program when I’d auditioned for Noah’s Flood months before. Patience however, was slowly edging its way out of my grasp. Then, suddenly I saw it:

Congratulations! We would like to inform you that you have been accepted and cast for our 16/17 Opera Camp!!!!

And so it began.
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Opera Under the Stars – Get Ready for LA Opera’s Simulcast

Share Mark Your Calendars We’re presenting a free, live simulcast of Carmen at Santa Monica Pier and Exposition Park on September 23 at 7pm. If you’re looking to experience opera under the stars, this is your chance. Here are some … Continue reading

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Love Our Annual Simulcast? Thank LA County.

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew


We love opera and we love seeing audiences experience the transformative power of opera.

Our dedication to sharing this art form with the entire Los Angeles community brings more than 30 programs into hundreds of neighborhoods across the region and also invites community members to experience opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

LA Opera’s simulcast is one of our newest and most expansive programs, sharing the first opera of the season with thousands of Angelenos — in three diverse geographic locations and all at the same time.

Through the generous commitment of Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors, LA Opera will continue its simulcasts on September 23, 2017 with Carmen, live at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and with live broadcasts at the Santa Monica Pier and Exposition Park.
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