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Meet Patricia Racette and James Conlon

Our Grammy Award Winning Duo - LA Opera Music Director and world renowned soprano Patricia Racette are back together in Salome.

Our Grammy Award Winning Duo – LA Opera Music Director and world renowned soprano Patricia Racette are back together in Salome.

Together again –  LA Opera Music Director, James Conlon and Patricia Racette (Salome) will host a special CD signing.

When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 – immediately following the performance
Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion – Grand Avenue Lobby

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GIVING TUESDAY: HELPING ME GET KIDS EXCITED ABOUT OPERA

Jessica Insco (center) with Stacy Brightman, Vice President of Education & Community Engagement and Nathan Rifenburg, Education Manager

Jessica Insco (center) with Stacy Brightman, Vice President of Education &
Community Engagement and Nathan Rifenburg, Education Manager

The following is an article written by Jessica Insco, a fine arts teacher, who participated in Opera for Educators. This program is designed to equip educators with tools that help foster a love of the performing arts within students in schools across Los Angeles.

Help make education programs like this possible.  Visit LAOpera.org/Donate

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Your Chance To Win Tickets To Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov In Concert

Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov

Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov

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.

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Macbeth

The witches surround Macbeth (Plácido Domingo) ; Photo: Karen Almond

The witches surround Macbeth (Plácido Domingo) ; Photo: Karen Almond

LA Opera’s gritty production of Macbeth, directed by Darko Tresjnak will be staged one more time – this afternoon. In case you’ve missed the Macbeth love these past few months, we’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out.

Get to Know Macbeth

 Macbeth: A Personal Note

 In this guest post, Maestro James Conlon discusses why he loves Macbeth.

 James Conlon: Why Verdi’s Macbeth Is Important

 In this guest post, Maestro James Conlon discusses why Macbeth is important.

 The Macbeth Witches Are Not Your Ordinary Witches

 The dancing witches in Macbeth are not your pointy hat, black-wearing, broom-flying witches. As the agents that drive the story, they are onstage virtually the entire time, lurking during every sinister choice that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth make in the opera. They move props. They haunt all of the characters and bring them to the darkest moments of their lives. We spoke with the nine women who play the witches about how they bring their hellish characters to life.

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5 Shakespeare Operas To Sink Your Teeth Into

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and the whole world is celebrating the Bard. While Shakespeare’s plays are brilliant when read and powerful when staged, there is something to be said for experiencing his stories set to music. Throughout history, opera composers have adapted Shakespeare plays into some of the most thrilling pieces in the repertory. We’ve compiled a list below of some operas based on Shakespeare plays. We’re sure you’ll fall in love them.

Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi

Gripping. Dark. Exciting. Verdi’s opera expands on Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal and murder, getting into the wicked and tormented minds of the Macbeths (kind of like the Whites in Breaking Bad) through electrifying vocal lines and propulsive energy. It is not to be missed (especially since LA Opera’s 16/17 season opens with Macbeth on Sept 17).

Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod

Roméo et Juliette (2004); Photo: Ken Howard

Roméo et Juliette (2004); Photo: Ken Howard

Charles Gounod’s elegant and sumptuous score for his version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet heightens the connection between the two young lovers through no less than four romantic duets, making their ultimate fate that much more tragic. Learn more about LA Opera’s iconic production here.

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Reid Bruton Talks Opera and Film

Name almost any major Hollywood film in the last decade and Reid Bruton may very well have sung on its soundtrack. From Star Wars to Suicide Squad to Frozen, Bruton’s rich bass voice can be heard in the background of an emotional moment (like the epic moment in Star Wars between Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren) or as a menacing creature-like sound effect.  He can do it all, and that includes opera.  Bruton has been singing with the LA Opera Chorus for almost 20 years, appearing in more than 80 productions with numerous appearances in comprimario roles. We caught up with Bruton before his work as Macbeth’s servant for this season’s opening production, to chat about his varied roles in opera and film.

How long have you been part of the LA Opera chorus?

Il Trovatore (1997)

Reid Bruton – “Il Trovatore” (1997)

Since 1997. My first production was LAO’s first Il Trovatore.

Did you always have a love of opera?

Oh, yes! I was raised in a farming community near Memphis and I used to drive a tractor for my father, which was equiped with a small radio inside. On Saturday mornings, I would plow fields and listen to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio or put in a cassette tape of Leontyne Price or Maria Callas singing. I listened and loved it, but never saw an opera until I went to college where I was a double degree in voice/opera and piano.

Why have you stayed with LA Opera for so long?

Eugene Onegin (2011/2012) with Oksana Dyka

Eugene Onegin (2011/2012) with Oksana Dyka

There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that at LA Opera I have the unique opportunity to work closely with some of the most notable singers in the world today… singing and acting with them very closely. Being on stage with great artists who inspire me and whom I learn from – it’s better than a college degree.  I teach voice privately.  So by getting to work so closely with all of these great singers with different voice types I am able to share, first hand, my experience and observations with my students.

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Robert Osborne Talks anatomy theater

Robert Osborne as Baron Peel in a 2016 workshop of David Lang's Anatomy Theater; Photo: James Daniel

Robert Osborne as Baron Peel in a 2016 workshop of David Lang’s Anatomy Theater; Photo: James Daniel

Bass-baritone Robert Osborne is a veteran performer of contemporary opera, known for tackling challenging roles from the title character in Harry Partch’s Oedipus to François Mignon in the Robert Wilson-directed Zinnias. Currently, he will debut the role of Baron Peel in the world premiere of David Lang’s anatomy theater. During rehearsals, we sat down with Osborne to discuss his work in anatomy theater and what makes Baron Peel tick.

How did you get involved with anatomy theater?

I joined the cast of anatomy theater in 2006 for a workshop of the piece at MASS MOCA. I am the only cast member from that early workshop, which was also directed by Bob McGrath and Ridge Theater. In the decade since the workshop, I have also done some other work with David Lang, and have been a fan and follower of his music all these years.

To be honest, I am not quite sure why David approached me for the original workshop, except that we were colleagues at the Yale School of Music. I’ve known David since 1980. When this project came around, I knew that he was writing the role of Sarah Osborne, the female character in the show, for a mutual friend of ours (this was before Peabody took on the role this year), and she and I were extremely good friends and performed a lot together. I also have a reputation for being someone who can do and does do a lot of contemporary work and new music, and I know that David has seen me in other productions.

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About La Bohème

Share There are three chances left to see La Bohème at LA Opera. This Belle Époque set production has wowed audiences with its doomed love story beautifully sung by Nino Machaidze and Olga Busuioc and Mario Chang and rivetingly conducted … Continue reading

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The “Poochini” Package – Happy April Fool’s from LA Opera!

poochini1500

Have you ever wished you could bring your pet to the opera? Now you can! LA Opera, as part of its mission to expand its audience and to address the population of pet owners in the Downtown Los Angeles area, is offering a one-day only Poochini Package for a special matinee of Puccini’s operatic classic, La Bohème on Sunday, May 22 at 2:00pm.

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James Conlon Talks Life, Opera, and Ten Years in Los Angeles

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

This fall, James Conlon will mark ten years as LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director. Throughout the past decade, he has led the orchestra through almost fifty operas, from the great masterpieces of Mozart, Verdi and Wagner to contemporary works like The Ghosts of Versailles and Moby-Dick. To celebrate his birthday on March 18, we sat down with Mr. Conlon to chat about his life in classical music and what he loves most about opera in Los Angeles.

(Scroll down for information on Office Hours with Maestro Conlon)

What inspired you to become a conductor?

It wasn’t a single person but, instead, a series of events that inspired me to become a classical musician. I went to the opera for the first time in 1961. I was 11 and the experience transformed my life within months. I wanted to hear classical music day and night. Soon I was studying piano and violin. I also began singing in the children’s choir of a small New York City opera company. A few years later, I decided I wanted to be a conductor, at which point every career decision I made focused on that goal. At 22, I graduated from The Julliard School and my professional life as a conductor was on its way.

Maestro James Conlon conducting Don Pasquale at The Julliard School in 1972; Photo: Beth Bergman

Maestro James Conlon conducting Don Pasquale at The Julliard School in 1972; Photo: Beth Bergman

What are the greatest challenges you faced in the field and how did you overcome them?

 The greatest challenge I faced when I was starting out was proving myself as a young conductor in both symphonic and operatic institutions. Unlike today’s world, which now welcomes young conductors, it was just the opposite when I started out. I also faced the challenges of both proving myself in Europe as a qualified American conductor (and a young American conductor to boot), and additionally proving myself in the United States, which has historically preferred foreign (mostly European) conductors.

How did I master these challenges? I simply devoted myself to my work: Seriously. Relentlessly. Passionately. At a certain point, conducting ceased to be a career and became a way of life—something that still holds true today.

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Word Wednesday: Soubrette

SOUBRETTE

SOUBRETTE

SOUBRETTE (11 Scrabble points) – French – A soubrette is both an operatic voice type and a style of character. Soubrette voices are lighter soprano or mezzos (often sung by younger singers), while soubrette characters are attractive and saucy ladies. Think Musetta in La Boheme.

In our Belle Époque Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme follows the story of six young bohemians, surviving only on laughter and the promise of love. One of them is Musetta, a singer, who early on abandons her rich lover in order to be with her ex. While Mimi may be the La Boheme’s famous femme, Musetta adds a quirky edge and her Waltz (“Quando me’n vo’”) is one of the most famous pieces from Puccini’s opera. Check out Nino Machaidze sing Musetta’s Waltz below and make sure to see her in May, when she makes her role debut as Mimi in our production.

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An Operatic Life: Robert Garcia

Stanford in Salamanca group 1971-72. Robert is fifth from the right.

Stanford in Salamanca group 1971-72. Robert is fifth from the right.

December 1971. While studying abroad at Stanford in Salamanca, I met a beautiful woman and her family. They loved opera; I had never seen one. They were leaving for Vienna and I for Venice and Switzerland. But, I knew that I had to see this woman again. We agreed to meet on New Year’s Eve at 7:30pm outside the Vienna Opera House.

December 30, 1971. After traveling through the Swiss Alps, I took the night train scheduled to arrive in Vienna in the morning of the 31st. I hoped to spend time with her during the day, exploring Vienna, before seeing the opera. But it was not meant to be! I had a Guatemalan passport and did not know that I needed a visa to enter Austria. Around midnight on the 30th, near Lichtenstein, the Austrian police ordered me to get off the train. They told me I could get a visa in the nearby principality of Lichtenstein in the morning. Unfortunately, the Austrian police said that the next train would get me to Vienna only on the 31st in the evening. There was nothing there, but a small closed train station. It was the middle of winter in the Swiss Alps, freezing, and I had nowhere to go. I slept on a bench with my down sleeping bag zipped to my nose. All I could think of was this beautiful woman. I knew I had to get to Vienna to see her. In the morning I took the first bus to Lichtenstein and go a visa from the Austrian consulate. I told his secretary my story about caring for this beautiful woman. She gets excited and drives me to the station in her VW bug. I jump out of her car, grab my pack, jump on the train as it’s leaving, and hear her yelling behind me “Remember the people of Lichtenstein!”

New Year’s Eve, 1971. I arrive at the Vienna Opera House well past 7:30pm. I try to buy a ticket, but the person at the box office looks me up and down, calls her manager, who promptly tells me that I can’t go to the opera looking like that. I have hair down to my shoulders. I’m wearing jeans and a bush jacket. I’m carrying a backpack. I’ve been on a train all day and I spent the night on a bench outdoors at an abandoned train station in the dead of winter in the middle of the Swiss Alps. I understand his concern, but I’m not going to let the protocol of the Vienna Opera House stop me from meeting up with this woman. He lets me in and I see my first opera, Verdi’s La Traviata, and I reunite with the beautiful woman once more.

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