Opera About Town
Close your eyes and imagine the most spectacular fireworks display you’ve ever seen. It’s probably filled with starbursts and various different colors that light up the sky, and brings back fond memories and leaves you in awe.
How you feel about that amazing fireworks display you’re picturing right now is how I have always felt about opera.
I have attended opera for more than 40 years in some of the greatest cities for the art form in the country, including New York and Los Angeles. Before becoming a Community Educator, I went to hear the singer’s beautiful voices and did not worry so much about the background on the opera or the composers. I sat and enjoyed the experience.
This all changed when I learned that as the member of the Opera League of Los Angeles, I could be trained by LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement department to be a Community Educator. It sounded like a great way to give back to the community, while also having fun, and teaching people about opera. So, I decided to join the program.
Everyone loves a good story. That’s true whether you’re an adult reading the latest world news online or a child listening to a picture book being read. The latter is the core of the newest educational initiative in LA Opera’s already robust roster of inspiring programs.
Since January, LA Opera staff members and artists have read to kids in various grade levels at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School. A rewarding experience, Read Aloud offers staff members the opportunity to give back to the Los Angeles community – a core tenant of the company’s mission. It also provides children the opportunity to ask staff members about opera and the arts.
“I think that kids are just innately curious. They want to know how things work. They are with you all the way when you read to them, and so anxious to be part of this exchange,” says Gerrie Maloof, Senior Director, Labor Relations and Human Resources, of her experience. Production and Human Resources Administrator Nadine Bedrossian adds: “I think the most surprising thing when I went was that kids started cheering when I said that I’m from LA Opera. I asked, ‘Does it make me cool that I work at LA Opera?’ and the kids yelled, ‘Yeah!’ It’s so cute how excited they were about LA Opera specifically.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
In 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
Entry into Downtown LA’s Hottest Halloween Party
Hosted by The Black Tux at The Theatre at Ace Hotel
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 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.
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.
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.
Last 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.
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
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.
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
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
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