Opera About Town

Sing Along with Great Opera Choruses

Great Opera Choruses (2014); Photo: Jennifer Babcock

Grant Gershon conducting the audience at Great Opera Choruses (2014); Photo: Jennifer Babcock

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sing Carmen? LA Opera is presenting a free concert called Great Opera Concerts on April 10, where you can do just that.

Presented at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, the concert (which will feature the acclaimed LA Opera Chorus) will begin with Resident Conductor Grant Gershon rehearsing the audience for their sing-along debuts.  Music will be provided in the program to the three sing-along sections: “Habanera” and the “Toreador Song” from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, and the “Anvil Chorus” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

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Get To Know The Zarzuela Project

Andrea Sohn and her three children Nicolas (14), Julien (10) and Shela (8) dressed up for Zarzuela

Andrea Sohn and her three children Nicolas (14), Julien (10) and Shela (8) dressed up for Zarzuela

In partnership with The Mariachi Conservatory, LA Opera invites people from around LA County (with a concentrated focus on East LA) to explore opera. The Zarzuela Project is a key component of this. Led by a team of LA Opera teaching artists, including Melodee Fernandez, Abdiel Gonzalez and Vivian Liu, The Zarzuela Project accepts all ages and weekly rehearsals are held at Salesian High School in East LA. Fernandez’s students rehearse various Zarzuelas and perform them at partner venues around the community. It is a project that is very dear to LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo, whose parents were both Zarzuela singers.

One of the members of The Zarzuela Project is Andrea Sohn.

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Music to Remember

Two LA Opera artists—soprano Karen Hogle-Brown and tenor Ashley Faatoalia—perform at USC’s Keck Medical Center.

Two LA Opera artists—soprano Karen Hogle-Brown and tenor Ashley Faatoalia—perform at
USC’s Keck Medical Center.

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

– Hans Christian Andersen

Music is a universal language that feeds the soul.

People connect with music on another level that involves the brain in ways that neuroscientists are still exploring (learn more here). While the science behind music and memory is nascent (research is primarily observational at this point), there is reason to believe that music can stir memories in people with dementia. For the past two years, LA Opera, the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the Alzheimer’s Association of Southern California have partnered to bring music – and perhaps memories – to patients living with memory loss, Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia in a program called “Music to Remember.” During the performances, LA Opera teaching artists sing holiday carols to residents (and workers) in long-term care and assisted living facilities throughout Los Angeles, suffering from ­dementia. Postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from the ZNI who work on the neurobiology of aging and memory accompany the group of teaching artists and observe the effects their singing has on patients.

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Night on Broadway: LA Opera Style

Night on Broadway 2015; Photo: Hunter Kerhart

Night on Broadway 2015; Photo: Hunter Kerhart

How much do you love Downtown LA? Well, this Saturday is your chance to experience DTLA in all its cultural glory. Don’t miss “Night On Broadway,” an evening of food, entertainment, arts and culture celebrating the 8th anniversary of Councilmember José Huizar’s “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative. This wildly popular event is free for people of all ages looking to experience the Historic Theater District in a unique and personal way, while discovering the best of what today and tomorrow’s Broadway has to offer.

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Abigail Fischer Explores the Mind of Isabelle Eberhardt

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.”

– Maria Callas

Opera is a place where all other art forms – art, film, even dance – meet to create a spectacular production. This is a convergence that’s very familiar to mezzo-soprano Abigail Fischer, who plays Isabelle Eberhardt in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar. Fischer utilizes various artistic talents in the multimedia opera now showing at REDCAT. It is her haunting singing, however, that mesmerizes throughout the 75-minute opera.

“Singing is a very intimate art form. It’s very connected to the deepest parts of you. You really have to know yourself,” says Fischer. The intimacy of singing – and truly all performance – is heightened in Song from the Uproar, because of its abstractness. Fischer plays Isabelle Eberhardt solely, but there is also a “Chorus of Isabelles” that alternatively showcases Eberhardt’s emotions. There’s a strong synergy between the chorus members and Fischer to the point where they repeat each other’s dance moves and lyrics. Together, they illustrate the evolving psyche of a complicated woman, her many lives, and her many deaths.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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CONTEST: SPOT THE WHALE ABOUT TOWN? SOCIAL A SELFIE, WIN BIG

whale-tail-sticker_v2In honor of our upcoming production, Moby-Dick, we’re launching our Whale About Town Contest. We’ve placed stickers (pictured above) in a few of Los Angeles’ trendiest places (locations listed below). If you spot the whale sticker, take selfie and get social with it. If you include #WhaleAboutTown in your post, you could win a whale of a prize:

Moby-Dick Experience Package

Two Tickets for Moby-Dick’s Opening Night on October 31

Two Intermission Champagne Vouchers

and

Entry into Downtown LA’s Hottest Halloween Party

The Black & White Ball

   Hosted by The Black Tux at The Theatre at Ace Hotel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd-Z4-3Ip_Q

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Missy’s Song from the Uproar

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

Abigail Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and unchartered places.” – Isabelle Eberhardt

In May 1897, an adventurous Swiss woman named Isabelle Eberhardt relocated to North Africa. There she went down a path of self-discovery very atypical for a woman of her time. Eberhardt lived her life to the fullest. She reveled in her time alone experiencing the desert just as much as she adored discussing Islam with members of the Sufi order she joined called Qadiriyaa.

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Missy Mazzoli (right) with Director Gia Forakis (center) and singer Abigail Fischer (left)

Eberhardt also romanced and eventually married an Algerian soldier with whom she had a sometimes tender, sometimes tumultuous relationship. Tragically, her extraordinary life ended at the age of 27 when a flash flood roared through the Algerian province of Aïn Séfra. Yet, elements of Isabelle’s life have been immortalized in the words of her journals, which were published posthumously.

Eleven years ago, composer Missy Mazzoli picked up a copy of Isabelle’s journals in a Boston bookstore and read the following passage:

“On days when I have no money, I am a vagabond on the road, enjoying the reflections of gold and scarlet sunset on the white dunes. The grave alone can rob me of such wealth, not man. If I am allowed the time it takes to write the odd fragment of a description, it may even survive the minds of some.”

Eberhardt’s words stopped Mazzoli in her tracks and “haunted her for years.” This Thursday, Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar has its west coast premiere, brought to Los Angeles through a partnership between LA Opera and producer Beth Morrison Projects.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P2pH3qhYpM

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Opera at the Beach: Bringing Music to the Masses

Santa Monica Pier is one of Los Angeles’ largest tourist attractions. Groups of people flock west to experience the beach, ride the ferris wheel, and pose in front of the sign signaling the end of Route 66. This past Saturday, tourists and Angelenos alike came to Santa Monica for one reason: opera.

LA Opera at the Pier Photo by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew ImagingLA Opera hosted its second annual, live HD simulcast called Opera at the Beach on Saturday. This year, an estimated 4,000 people were treated to performances of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. People arrived early to claim their spot in front of the large screen, participate in opera trivia, and listen to music from LA Opera’s upcoming season, including Beth Morrison Projects’ Song from the Uproar and Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. Guests who purchased tickets to the Wine Terrace, sponsored by Los Angeles magazine enjoyed tasting various wines and meeting the wineries responsible for creating some of the best drinks southern California has to offer.

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LA Opera and Beth Morrison Bring New York’s Indie Opera Scene West

Anatomy Theater (2016)

Anatomy Theater (2016)

In the aftermath of a war that ravaged America, a family clings to their existence; teenaged Lisa holds onto the hope of a better world as her family spirals into the depths of starvation and despair. When a stranger – a man who acts like and thinks of himself as a dog – arrives on her doorstep, they are forced to confront what it means to be human and what they will do to survive.

The above summary may sound like the logline of a post-apocalyptic thriller, but it is not a film.

It’s a multi-media opera.

Yes, opera.

LA Opera presented Dog Days in June at REDCAT as part of the Off Grand initiative, which brings thrilling contemporary chamber opera to LAO audiences. It was the west coast premiere of the opera, developed and produced by Beth Morrison Projects in New York. Inventive, thrillingly evocative of the human condition, and visceral, Dog Days has garnered a great deal of interest in the burgeoning indie opera scene.

Now, LA Opera and Beth Morrison have joined forces again to present two of Beth Morrison Projects’ (BMP) operas this season at REDCAT: Song from the Uproar and Anatomy Theater. Combining live musical performance and original film, Song from the Uproar (October 8-11), tells the incredible story of Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), a young woman who left her life in Switzerland behind for an unfettered existence in the North African desert. Anatomy Theater follows the astonishing progression of an English murderess: from confession to execution and, ultimately, public dissection before a paying audience of fascinated onlookers. Through the miracle of opera, she sings through it all.

Abigal Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Abigal Fischer as Isabelle Eberhardt in Song from the Uproar (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

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ARIA: The Trendiest Ticket In Town

ARIA Kickoff GuestsLast night, we kicked off this year’s ARIA season. Guests wined, dined, and took a break from the heat poolside underneath lit up palm trees at Mr. C Hotel in Beverly Hills. Everyone looked dashing, chatting about the upcoming season and looking forward to the many operatic adventures to come.

Haven’t heard of ARIA? It’s LA Opera’s gem of a club for young professionals, ages 21-35. During an ARIA Night at the Opera, members see a show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and then head to an exclusive after-party with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to cap off a great evening in style. Often times, members get to meet the artists they’ve just watched on stage as they make their way to the post-opera festivities.

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Then Kids Stood Up and Performed Opera

Opera campers in a scene from Then I Stood Up

This past weekend, fifty-three children and teens took a stand through art. LA Opera’s summer opera camp performed, Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle at Barnsdall Theatre Gallery in Hollywood. With scenes from four operas promoting themes of social justice, campers showcased not only their talent, but also their desire to create a better world. … Continue reading

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From Zarzuela to Opera Camp

Jesus, Beatrice, and Diego in Zarzuela garb

Jesus, Beatrice, and Diego in Zarzuela garb

Jesus and Diego Lopez (17 and 10, respectively) wanted nothing to do with classical music. When their mother, Beatriz Zaragoza, played classical music in the car, the boys complained. This all changed when the family discovered LA Opera’s Zarzuela Project.

With the Community Opera Choruses Network, LA Opera engages people from around LA County (with a concentrated focus on East LA) to explore opera. The Zarzuela Project is a key component of this network. Led by a team of LA Opera teaching artists, the project accepts all ages and weekly rehearsals are held at Salesian High School in East LA. Fernandez’s students rehearse various Zarzuelas and perform them at partner venues around the community. It is a project that is very dear to LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo, whose parents were both Zarzuela singers.

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It’s Not Sleep Away Camp, It’s Opera Camp!

Katie and Annie Lee rehearse “Everything Breathes” from <em>The White Bird of Poston</em>. They are led here (off-camera) by teaching artists Leslie Stevens and Charlie Kim.

Katie and Annie Lee rehearse “Everything Breathes” from The White Bird of Poston. They are led here (off-camera) by teaching artists Leslie Stevens and Charlie Kim.

Today’s headlines are filled with stories of inequality, injustice and hate. Understanding our role in changing the world can be daunting. Through its annual Opera Camp program, LA Opera is teaching kids 9 – 17 how every action counts.

For the the past 15 years, LA Opera has hosted Opera Camp, a two-week immersive program where campers learn about opera – the artistry, the production, the skills – and prepares them to perform one. Every year, between 50 and 60 children and teens participate in the camp. … Continue reading

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Placido Domingo Announces LA Opera’s 2015/2016 Season

Share Plácido Domingo has announced LA Opera’s 2015/16 season, which is dedicated to you, the audience, and our community!  This exciting 30th Anniversary Season is filled with audience favorites, with plenty of LA Opera flair thrown in for good measure. The … Continue reading

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Ana Maria Martinez Speaks to Voice Students at Cortines High School

Share Music students at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts were treated to a surprise visit and discussion with soprano Ana María Martínez, currently co-starring with Placido Domingo in Simon Boccanegra. We asked Ms. Martinez about her experience … Continue reading

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