Tag Archives: LA Opera

Where In The World Are LA Opera Productions?

Since LA Opera’s first season in 1986, Los Angeles is not the only place in the world that you can experience one of the company’s productions. Over the years, they’ve been rented and staged by other opera companies, produced during festivals, and even shown on the big screen. LA Opera’s innovative and beloved productions travel the world, sharing the spirit of Los Angeles and a love of opera with people far and wide.

Here are three productions that have traveled the world in recent years.

Salome (1986; 1989; 1998; 2001; 2017)

Salome (1986); Photo: Frederick Ohringer

Salome (1986); Photo: Frederick Ohringer

LA Opera’s iconic production of Strauss’s Salome (which returns to the LA Opera stage February 18) originally premiered during our first season in 1986. Adapted from the scandalous play by Oscar Wilde, Salome is a seductively beautiful tapestry of the subconscious. The princess Salome becomes infatuated by her stepfather’s prisoner, John the Baptist, and she determines to have him…whatever the cost.

This production of Salome is well traveled and has been staged both close to home (at San Diego Opera) across the country (Washington National Opera) and around the world (on tour with the Savonlinna Festival in Finland and as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival in China).

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How LA Opera Revealed Its Branding

BrandingArticleImage

Since its founding in 1986, LA Opera has become one of Los Angeles’s most influential arts organizations. In 2011 LA Opera’s communications team conducted extensive research in order to better identify the company’s brand and connect with its ever-expanding audience in a new era.

“In order for branding to be effective, it has to be organic,” says Diane Rhodes Bergman, vice president of marketing and communications, who oversaw the research efforts five years ago and continues to spearhead the company’s communications strategy. “It has to start with the people who are most involved with the brand: the board, our staff, and the public we serve. We conducted research with these three groups to identify what LA Opera is at its core, what role the company plays in the Los Angeles community, and what part it will play in the community’s future.”

Through this research and subsequent testing of various brand concepts, LA Opera’s branding began to take form. There were several things that all the groups surveyed connected to LA Opera: the company’s influential presence in the Los Angeles community, the inextricable link to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s decades-long history, innovative productions, and a certain method of storytelling reflective of the city’s edgy (but still beautiful) spirit.

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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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Moby-Dick: No Book Report Required

A timeless classic, Moby Dick sits atop just about every literary reading list. You’ve heard of it, you’ve probably read it and if you have a high school freshman, like I do, it’s on their reading list right now.

And as said freshman pointed out, the book is big – really big.

On October 31, Moby Dickthe opera – opens at LA Opera.While reading the novel can seem daunting due to the sheer volume of details, the opera brings the story to life. We’d never recommend you see the opera instead of reading the novel – it’s not a substitute or the Cliffs notes version or anything – but, the opera provides you with a rich and vibrant telling that’s pretty close to the big book. (It really is the perfect way to get the would-be reader excited about the classic tale.)

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

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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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A View from the Bridge

Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are rarely – if ever – done together. The most common pairing for Pagliacci is Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, another tragic love triangle of sorts. This season, LA Opera has forgone tradition by staging two gigantic productions together in its season opening double bill. It’s a marriage of comedy and tragedy and a posthumous reconciling for two composers, who fought against each other so fervently, after Puccini premiered La Bohéme (Leoncavallo also completed a version of the Bohéme story).

It’s also a huge undertaking set-wise.

Crew member lowering Pagliacci set platforms

Crew member lowering the Pagliacci set platform

From their view in the house, audience members are not privy to the pure magic that goes on behind the curtain, while they are in the midst of intermission. But with a view from the bridge, it’s possible to see both the production and the set-up.

The bridge is a platform walkway, connecting our second-floor backstage area with lighting equipment. Before you ask, this seat is not open to the public, but it does provide an interesting view of what it takes to stage a sizeable double bill, such as Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Once the curtain falls on the 50-minute Gianni Schicchi, it’s the stage crew’s time to shine. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, Schicchi’s gigantic, 1940s-inspired Florence set is removed and a 1980s-inspired bohemian Pagliacci set takes its place.

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LA Opera: A Teacher’s Paradise

Last week during Arts in Education Week, LA Opera teaching artists spent the day working with students on Orpheus, an original youth opera commissioned by LA Opera, written by librettist Matthew Leavitt and composer Nathan Wang, based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. This is part of a program called Secondary In-School Opera, a ten-week performance workshop that provides secondary schools with a team of teaching artists and directors to show students what it takes to perform an opera. Students meet with the artists ten times to work on the opera between August and October with a performance in November – an engaging experience to foster interest in the world of opera.

Resident Stage Director Eli Villanueva working with students as part of LA Opera's Secondary In-School Opera Program

Resident Stage Director Eli Villanueva working with students as part of LA Opera’s Secondary In-School Opera Program

For more than 20 years, LA Opera has been exploring the magic of opera with schools, teachers and students from kindergarten through college, all over Southern California. Secondary In-School Opera is just one of the many education programs that make LA Opera a teacher’s paradise. Others include Opera Camp, Opera-U, and LA Opera 90012.

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Muppets Opera Love

From Hey Arnold! to The Simpsons, several cartoons have featured opera . Of these, The Muppet Show most notably included several opera references during its run that introduced younger audiences to the art form. Did you know that Miss Piggy wanted to sing opera? We think Miss Piggy would love our Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Can you picture her singing Lauretta’s aria, “O mio babbino caro?”

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

In honor of tonight’s The Muppets series premiere on ABC, we have found some “Muppets meet opera” moments we think you’ll enjoy:

Beaker’s Habanera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXKUb5A1auM

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4 Questions with Gianni Schicchi’s Youngest Star

LA Opera - Schicchi Final Dress Rehearsal  Photo by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Isaiah Morgan as Gherardino and Plácido Domingo as the title character in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

One of the busiest stars currently gracing the LA Opera stage in Gianni Schicchi is only 10. The triple-threat (actor, singer, dancer) plays Gherardino, the son of one of the scheming Donati family members. Besides being in his debut at the opera this season, Isaiah is also an avid YouTuber with his own channel and he’s been featured in several commercials, including ABC Mouse. Check out his latest cover of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?”

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The Return of Ulysses: Iconic Productions Day 10

The Return of Ulysses, 1996-1997

Frederica von Stade as Penelope in The Return of Ulysses (1997); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

“[There’s] an underlying anger [to Penelope]…her frustration, and at the bottom of everything is fear – what these people could do to her. They’ve had enough of her saying, ‘Just wait a little longer, he’s going to come back.’” – Frederica von Stade’s explorations of her character Penelope in The Return of Ulysses (1997)

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The Flying Dutchman: Iconic Productions Day 9

“I can listen to the music in my home and imagine the most amazing imagery. But quite often when I go to the opera and then I see it, I’d rather close my eyes, because you can’t match the music.” – Julie Taymor (Frida, Across The Universe) on what made her desire to push theatrical boundaries in opera for The Flying Dutchman (1995)

The cast of The Flying Dutchman (1995); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

The cast of The Flying Dutchman (1995); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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Pelleas et Melisande: Iconic Productions Day 8

“I have gone out of my way to demonstrate that Debussy was writing very specific music for very specific situations. When you actually put it all out there, when you take the trouble to make a believable existence, note by note, bar by bar for these characters, you realize this opera is so filled with life, and with detail, that it becomes anything but the boring opera of the season. On the contrary, it’s a sizzler.” – Peter Sellars, on his staging of Pelléas et Mélisande (1995)

The cast of Pelleas et Melisande (1995); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

The cast of Pelléas et Mélisande (1995); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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Die Frau on Schatten: Iconic Productions Day 8

“[Designer] Hockney has turned the opera into a scenic wonderland of gleaming, fluidly changing, primary colors. Everything looks very pretty and very painterly, from the stylized panoramas of winding roads, lakes and ornamental trees in the upper realms to the dye-dripped platform that functions as Barak’s modest hovel.” – Martin Bernheimer, Los Angeles Times Music Critic (1993)

Franz Grundheber as Barak and Gwyneth Jones as his wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten (1993); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

Franz Grundheber as Barak and Gwyneth Jones as his wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten (1993); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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Iconic Productions: La Bohème

“Having worked in many art forms, I find opera is the most challenging of all, because it is a fusion of all the arts.” – Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias, The Turning Point) on his first operatic directing experience staging La Bohème at LA Opera in 1992.

Kallen Esperian as Mimi in <em>La Boheme</em> (1993); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

Kallen Esperian as Mimi in La Boheme (1993); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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The Magic Flute – Mozart’s Fantasy Opera: Iconic Productions Day 6

The Magic Flute 1, 1992-1993

Dale Franzen as Papagena and Rodney Gilry as Papageno in The Magic Flute (1993); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

For the 1992/1993 season, director Sir Peter Hall believed that The Magic Flute “should have the metabolism of a child.” He wanted it to capture the childhood essence he believed existed in the music’s “deliberate naiveté.”

Mozart’s The Magic Flute is set in Egypt in the fantasy lands of Sarastro and the Queen of the Night. The young Tamino is asked by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from Sarastro, who has captured her. Tamino falls instantly in love with Pamina and vows to through every trial to be with her.

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Come One, Come All To The Opera: Newcomers Welcome

Costume and Wig Demonstration at Newcomer Kick-Off

Costume and Wig Demonstration at Newcomer Kick-Off

Last night, LA Opera opened its doors to hundreds of people excited to learn about opera and see what all the brilliant fuss is about. This Newcomer Event allowed guests a sneak-peak into the world of opera, including a costume and wig exhibit, props demonstration, photo booth, and a tour of the Founders Circle (with a view of the Pagliacci set on stage). After mingling with LA Opera staff and discovering more about our upcoming productions, guests were treated to performances from three of our young artists: Kihun Yoon (currently singing the role of the Notary in Gianni Schicchi), Brenton Ryan (currently singing Beppe in Pagliacci) and Summer Hassan (who’ll appear as the Second Lady in this season’s The Magic Flute).

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The Season of Epics – The Trojans and Kullervo: Iconic Productions Day 5

What is our personal duty to the state? How can a sense of history move a nation forward?

The 1991-1992 season brought two epic productions to the LA Opera stage: – Hector Berlioz’s The Trojans and Aulis Sallinen’s Kullervo – that ask these questions about personal duty and nationhood.

The Trojan, 1991-1992

The Trojans (1992); Photo Credit: Robert Millard

The Trojans is based on Virgil’s The Aeneid, following the capture of Troy in by the Ancient Greeks as well as the Trojans’ time in Carthage before the forming of Rome. A vast undertaking, The Trojans is a four-hour masterpiece, rarely staged at the time LA Opera put on the production. Director Francesca Zambello discussed its relevance to modern audiences:

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Iconic Productions: Nixon in China

Nixon in China imagines what history cannot tell us and what none of the participants in the trip was able to articulate. The opera is not about what I meant for Nixon to go to China, it is an opera about what it felt like to be Nixon in China. It is not an opera about what Nixon did for China, but what China did for Nixon.” – Mark Swed, classical music critic for the Los Angeles Times.

LA Opera presented John Adams’ acclaimed Nixon in China in 1990, a production directed by Peter Sellars.

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#LAO30Images Iconic Productions Day 3: Orpheus in the Underworld

“[Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld] is a masterfully constructed spoof on the First Musician’s private life. But it does considerably more than substitute Orpheus’ famous rock-charming lute for a nymphette-seducing violin. It brings the Olympian deities down to earth with a sequence of hilarious bumps, including an examination of the sexual double standards of the gods, and a revolution on Mount Olympus on grounds of the catering standards.” – Snoo Wilson, English libretto translator, Orpheus in the Underworld

Orpheus in the Underworld, 1988-1989

The cast of Orpheus in the Underworld (1989); Photo Credit: Frederic Ohringer

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The Staging of an Opera Company

Minutes before the curtain rose on LA Opera’s 1986 production of Otello, Plácido Domingo stood in the wings, ready to make his entrance in one of his signature roles. He had triumphantly sung Verdi’s tragic hero for audiences around the world, and was widely renowned as the preeminent Otello of his generation. Yet this performance carried a special significance for the tenor. It would be the very first performance in LA Opera’s inaugural season. Full of anticipation, Domingo was eager to showcase to the Los Angeles community, and the greater opera world, what this city could create.

Otello

Plácido Domingo as the title character in Otello (1986)

As conductor Lawrence Foster ushered in the sound of the orchestra to begin the opera, the curtain flew up swiftly. To the surprise of everyone present, the curtain rose halfway and no further. The show went on, and within minutes, the curtain arrived in its designated place, functioning properly for the rest of the stunning premiere.

The curtain’s antics prodded Los Angeles Times music critic Martin Bernheimer to ask, “Los Angeles Opera starts, and the curtain goes halfway up and gets stuck, is that what is going to happen to our opera company?”

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