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.
Ten minutes before the start of Gianni Schicchi, a video of Plácido Domingo played on the screen. The company’s charismatic general director welcomed all the guests at opera at the beach, passing the baton over to the various cast members to introduce themselves (and their characters) to the people on the beach. A highlight from these “shout out” videos include tenor Arturo Chacon-Cruz’s spoof on The Princess Bride, before introducing himself and his character Rinuccio. After short speeches by President and CEO Christopher Koelsch and LA County Deputy for the Arts and Environment Katie Young, the performance began with a hilarious staging of Gianni Schicchi.
The audience laughed, clapped along with guests at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and reveled in the love between Rinuccio and Lauretta (Andriana Chuchman).
Following the performance of Gianni Schicchi, Mr. Domingo surprised guests at Santa Monica Pier. Given a microphone, he spoke to them, while holding a giant beach ball, uniting the audiences at the pier and at the pavilion in their love of opera. Domingo then threw the beach ball into the audience at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, signaling the beginning of intermission.
After the intermission, Pagliacci wowed audiences at the pier (a significant amount of cheers were for Yusif Eyvazov’s astounding rendition of “Vesti La Giubba”).
The best part of the event? It was free.
Opera at the Beach is part of LA Opera’s initiative to spread the joys of opera to the Los Angeles community. Bringing music to the masses, the event joins the company’s other community initiatives, including LA Opera Off Grand, presenting innovative, contemporary opera at REDCAT, such as Beth Morrison Projects’ Song from the Uproar and Anatomy Theater.
For more information about our current season, check out our website. To purchase tickets to our upcoming productions of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, click here. For tickets to Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, click here.
Opera at the Beach is made possible through the generous support of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Original program created with support from former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Additional support provided by Los Angeles magazine.