Did You Know?
Sondra Radvanovsky was having a good night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown. The American soprano, giving a recital as part of the L.A. Opera season, had performed repertory ranging from Verdi to Copland, interspersed with personal stories and an emotional tribute to her late father. Now she’d returned for encores—to an audience so enthusiastic she ended up singing four.
It’s that time of year again! The time where we all make resolutions to meet new people and travel more. What if this New Year’s, you could do all of that at the opera house? Here are some ways to add seeing opera to your 2017 New Year’s resolutions.
Pick up a new hobby: opera.
Sometimes the day job gets to us and we forget to enjoy ourselves outside of the office. Take a break from Netflix binge-watching (although we also can’t wait for Sherlock) and spend some nights at the opera.
As a nonprofit, everything we do—on stage and throughout the community—is made possible by the generosity of supporters like you, who value the impact the performing arts have on the cultural fabric of Los Angeles.
When you make a tax-deductible donation by this Saturday, December 31, you will be entered for a chance to win:
- Two tickets to Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov in Concert on May 4, 2017
- Verismo, Anna Netrebko’s new album, on compact disc
A donation of any amount will help LA Opera and enter you for a chance to win this exciting giveaway. But hurry, this opportunity ends soon!
ARIA is the program du jour for young professionals to connect with the arts, network, and make friends with fellow arts enthusiasts. This season, we’ve taken ARIA to the next level by elevating its placement as a young professionals’ program for opera lovers between the ages of 21 and 40, is switching to a club membership-based model. As a result, ARIA has never been bigger, with over 100 members mingling and mixing at various events and enjoying opera together. 2017 promises to be the best yet. 2017 promises to be the best yet.
Ever since last season’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, we’ve been eagerly waiting to stage another one of Mozart’s work at LA Opera. Next month, we get to do just that! Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio opens on January 28 and here are five reasons to see this riotous opera.
Did we mention that it’s Mozart?
Mozart’s effervescent score is sure to thrill audiences—even though Emperor Joseph II asked that Mozart cut a few notes from the piece when it was first presented to him. (Check out that moment and the finale of Abduction as depicted in the Miloš Forman biopic Amadeus below.)
This is a wonderful time to experience the arts in Los Angeles. The arts scene is burgeoning like never before and all roads lead to Grand Avenue—home to several arts organizations, including LA Opera. With many arts destinations within walking distance of each other, Angelenos have never had simpler access to such a cross-section of art. From classical to contemporary, symphony to jazz, and of course grand opera, there’s something for every art palette.
Thanks to Metro, traveling to Grand Avenue will only get easier.
In just a few years, Metro will open a new station at the corner of Hope and Second streets. This is an incredible gift to the community and will increase accessibility to the city’s ever-evolving arts culture in downtown Los Angeles.
Metro is looking to name this station and is asking for public input for its naming and the naming of others in the Regional Connector line. As supporters of our art, you likely frequent our house and we’d like to ask for your help.
Currently in its second year, LA Opera’s Cast to Class program brings opera singers into schools and students to the opera house. Opera singers travel to schools around Los Angeles County speaking to students about their craft, and then those same students attend a mainstage performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and see the singer in action. The goal of the program—as with all of our education and community initiatives—is to break down the barriers between opera and the community.
However, in the past two years other, somewhat unexpected and beautiful results, has emerged.
During a dinner break between rehearsals of L.A. Opera’s Romeo and Juliet in 2005—in a rehearsal room at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion because the cast was in wigs and makeup and not allowed to venture outside—star soprano Anna Netrebko asked Opera Chorus tenor George Sterne to join her. “When she invited me to sit next to her, that thrilled me,” Sterne says with a grin. “I think she’d kind of gotten to like me, from talking to me.”
Have you ever wondered – “How’d they do that?” Opera brings stories to life, and the magic you see on stage is often the result of incredible ingenuity on the part of our behind-the-scenes artisans. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite objects used in productions—old and new, both onstage and off—to give you a glimpse at what’s involved in staging the operas you love.
Can you guess what these objects are for? (The answers are below, but no cheating!)
- The torches we use onstage have a name that references a crucial safety feature. What are these props called?
- Dead Man’s Torch
- Burnless Bunsen
- Touchable Torch
Wonderful Town opens on Friday, December 2nd, and we’ve been watching rehearsals all week. Here are some things we thought might surprise you.
1. Long before Carrie Bradshaw lived in Greenwich Village, Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, played by Faith Prince and Nikki M. James, sought out to find fame and fortune in the big city. Greenwich Village is the backdrop for Wonderful Town.
2. One guy can play lots of parts. Roger Bart, serves as the narrator of Wonderful Town, but he also serves as the Tour Guide, Speedy Valenti – the nightclub owner, Chick Clark – the sharp newspaper guy and others too. … Continue reading
The following is a personal story from Clemence Yi, an 8th grade student, who has participated in LA Opera’s education programs. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to fund programs that introduce students like Clemence to opera and ensure the art form thrives for generations to come.
Help make programs like these possible. Visit LAOpera.org/Donate
Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a nationwide day of giving back. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to share the power of the performing arts within our community.
LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement programs touch the lives of more than 140,000 Angelenos annually. Below is a story of some of the young lives being affected.
Help make programs like these possible. Visit LAOpera.org/Donate
For the past fifteen years, Eli Villanueva has worked with LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement team to bring opera to the Los Angeles Community. An accomplished performer, stage director, and composer, Villanueva has performed in and composed several works for the company’s various education programs (Opera Camp, Opera Tales, and In-School Opera).
Through his work, Villanueva strives to impact how children see the world and offer them the same excitement he had when he first “caught the opera bug.”
Thousands of people just like you come to LA Opera each year to experience the magnificence that can only be found in opera. Through world-class staging and bold experimentation, opera has something for everyone, regardless of age, musical preferences or means. Here are some of the opera experiences you can give as gifts to your friends and family this holiday season.
Hop on Mozart’s Orient Express with The Abduction from the Seraglio
If you’re a fan of screwball comedies, this is the opera for you. Updated to the Roaring Twenties, this riotous staging marries the brilliance of Mozart’s comic gem with the flair of a classic Hollywood comedy. 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!
On December 5, LA Opera kicks off its holiday music Tour with a recital at City of Hope. This is the fifth year of the beloved program that brings holiday cheer to patients at healthcare facilities across Los Angeles County, including Shriners Hospitals for Children, UCLA Harbor Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. While the tour brings beautiful music to audiences across LA County that celebrate the season, the recitals have a healing effect on those who need it most.
Share Next Tuesday marks the fifth annual Giving Tuesday, a nationwide day of giving back, following the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to produce world-class … Continue reading
You have two more chances to see Philip Glass’s Akhnaten – November 19 and 27. In case you’ve missed the Akhnaten love these past few weeks, we’ve collected a bunch of articles for you to check out and see why this staging of Akhnaten is a modern masterpiece.
The 2016/17 season is a big year for J’Nai Bridges. She recently made her San Francisco Opera debut as Bersi in Andrea Chenier (a role she will later reprise at Bavarian State Opera in Munich), Bridges made her LA Opera debut as Nefertiti in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten on November 5. She has become one of the most sought after mezzo-sopranos of her generation, but she didn’t always long for a career in opera.
Anthony Roth Costanzo – who just made his LA Opera debut in the title role in Akhnaten – is one of today’s foremost countertenors. Before opening night, we spoke to Costanzo about his upcoming role and his life in opera.
Continuing their family tradition of encouraging support for LA Opera during the holidays, Paul and Marybelle Musco have announced a matching gift challenge. Any donation received by December 31 will be matched $2 for every $1 donated up to $500,000.
For Paul and Marybelle Musco, supporting opera is an integral part of their lives. As a boy growing up in Rhode Island, Paul’s Italian immigrant parents were opera lovers and insisted that their children gather around the radio for the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. “I guess it was osmosis, because I came to love opera and it has stayed with me personally ever since,” he recalls.
There is nothing left of this glorious city of temples and palaces. The mud brick buildings have long since crumbled and little remains of the immense stone temples but the outline of their floor plans.
—from Akhnaten, the opera by Philip Glass
Like the lost kingdom of Egypt, little more than outlines remain of the glorious ancient pharaohs that ruled there. A treasure trove of precious metals and jewels, the once carefully preserved tombs—intended to last for eternity—have been looted and disturbed since antiquity. Today, we have stories that are pieced together from 7,000-year-old mummified bodies and the confusing array of artifacts and artistic renderings remaining to us. Modern technology has allowed for advancements never before imagined. CT imaging of mummies allows us to see more and destroy less and DNA testing has advanced the traces of a family tree. But there is still much we don’t know about this profoundly important African dynasty.
LA Opera believes that experiencing the arts is essential to the understanding of our own humanity – and should be made accessible to everyone. To this end, LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement Department is continuing the innovative Community Circle seating program, which has increased our service to students, low-income seniors, and a diverse array of other communities throughout Southern California and beyond.
Through Community Circle, carefully selected groups are invited to experience opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at a significantly reduced price and, at times, for free.
At every performance, 170 tickets in the orchestra section are set aside to accommodate these special groups, supplementing the extensive education and community outreach initiatives our company does throughout the year.
As part of this year’s Community Circle initiative, LA Opera has designated two matinee performances as Veterans’ Circle days.
While we strive for overall diversity in our casting, we have a long-standing policy of ignoring age, race and other physical characteristics when it comes to casting particular roles. Part of this is due to the complexity of casting for opera. In addition to acting ability, vocal beauty, tone and type, opera performers sing unamplified over a full symphony orchestra—an Olympian-level feat that is a combination of rare talent and years of dedication and training.
The title role of Akhnaten is particularly difficult to cast, especially in this production. It requires a very rare voice type, called a countertenor, in addition to outstanding stamina and agility—vocally and physically. Anthony Roth Costanzo was one of only two singers we found to have the skills and ability to perform the role of Akhnaten in this case, plus he comes to LA Opera having recently learned and performed it for English National Opera. Ethnicity was not a factor in our decision. While we do not cast roles according to race, we have a number people of color in Akhnaten, including in the role of Nefertiti, the queen, and another singer of Egyptian descent, among others.
We fully agree that the historical contributions of people of color have long been distorted or ignored. Not only do we wholeheartedly support all peaceful efforts to right these wrongs, we hope that in our own way we can be part of the solution. We are working toward a world where people of all backgrounds experience, as artists and audience members, the transformative power of opera.