Tag Archives: Mozart

Soprano So Young Park To Compete In Operalia

So Young Park; Photo: Lanley Le

So Young Park; Photo: Lanley Le

So Young Park is no stranger to Los Angeles operagoers.

Since 2014, Park has appeared in multiple LA Opera productions and concerts. The coloratura soprano first set foot on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage as Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro and has since wowed audiences in leading roles including the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, Blondchen in The Abduction from the Seraglio and Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann.

“As Olympia, the mechanical doll that Hoffmann is tricked into believing is his love, So Young Park…sang spectacularly.” – Los Angeles Times

On July 24, the Domingo-Colburn-Stein alumna will compete in Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s annual opera competition, and sharing her high notes with the world.

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Mozart: Truth Through Beauty

Matthew Aucoin (right) works with Summer Hassan, a member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program

Matthew Aucoin (right) works with Summer Hassan, a member of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program

Next month, LA Opera presents Mozart: Truth Through Beauty, a recital tour featuring artist-in-residence Matthew Aucoin as he and the rising stars of the company’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program explore Mozart’s unique artistic trajectory.

Why Mozart? Mozart is arguably the world’s most popular composer. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the music in its entirety, you’ve likely heard some of his music on TV, in film, or even in a viral commercial. Mozart is also one of the most misunderstood composers. He is often portrayed as a faintly-annoying child prodigy to whom everything came easy (much to the chagrin of his peers as portrayed in the award-winning film Amadeus). In reality, Mozart was a serious questing artist who spent his few adult years transforming his youthful brilliance into music of sublime simplicity.
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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About The Abduction from the Seraglio

Morris Robinson as Osmin (left) and Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Morris Robinson as Osmin (left) and Brenton Ryan as Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Abduction from the Seraglio takes the stage two more time this month. In case you’ve missed the Roaring Twenties, Orient Express, and Mozart fun, we’ve collected a bunch of articles for you to check out below.

Get To Know The Abduction from the Seraglio

James Conlon Talks Mozart and The Abduction from the Seraglio

Maestro James Conlon, who is celebrating his 10th season as LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, discusses Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio.

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Mozart and the Orient Express: Using Comedy to Transcend Cultural Differences

The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

LA Opera’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio is not a traditional staging of the Mozart treasure. Historically, the 18th-century comedic opera which follows the hero Belmonte as he tries to rescue his love Konstanze from the seraglio (“harem”) of Pasha Selim is set in the Pasha’s grand palace. Our staging, envisioned by director James Robinson, updates the story to the 1920s and sets the action entirely aboard the famed Orient Express, traveling from Istanbul to Paris.

The 1920s was a decade of transition—socially, politically and culturally. The world was still reeling from the Great War and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Grand world changes lend themselves well to the east-meets-west nature of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. This opera explores the comedy, not the tragedy, that arises when people from different cultures collide.

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An Opera-Filled Valentine’s Day

It’s that time of year again. The Season of Love. It’s the perfect time to show your romantic side, and nothing says romance like an evening of Mozart or Strauss. Ever thought of surprising the ones you love with the gift of opera on Valentine’s Day? Here’s a list of the most romantic operas to give your significant other the opera experience of a lifetime.

The Abduction from the Seraglio

This Mozart treasure is perfect for a fun, romantic evening at the opera. Our production is set in the 1920s and has the feeling of a classic screwball comedy (think Bringing Up Baby). It’s light, it’s funny and it’s perfect for any first – first opera, first date. With two intermissions, there’s time to share some bubbly while enjoying an evening together.

En route from Istanbul to Paris, two beautiful damsels in distress are held captive aboard the luxurious Orient Express by a notorious Ottoman royal. It’s up to their faithful lovers to rescue them before it’s too late! James Conlon conducts a brilliant ensemble of soloists, including bass Morris Robinson as the Pasha’s delightfully nefarious henchman Osmin. Hamish Linklater makes his company debut in the pivotal role of the Pasha Selim.

Salome

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

Patricia Racette as the title character in Salome (2015) at Opera San Antonio; Photo: Karen Almond

If you’re looking for a short, but thrilling night at the opera, Salome is the opera to give your loved on Valentine’s Day. Filled with unbridle passion and seduction, this one will give you lots to talk about.

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Pittance Chamber Music Presents Concert with Special Guest James Conlon

James Conlon (Photo by Chester Higgins; Members of Pittance Chamber Music

James Conlon (Photo by Chester Higgins; Members of Pittance Chamber Music

Pittance Chamber Music, comprised of members of the LA Opera Orchestra, will host their next concert on February 3. Special guest James Conlon will be conducting Pittance Chamber Music in Mozart’s sublime Serenade in B-flat, K.361, known as the “Gran Partita.”  As Pittance is a chamber music organization, its ensembles are small and normally don’t require a conductor. However, the size and scope of the “Gran Partita” makes it difficult to put together without one, and it is exciting that Maestro Conlon has agreed to move from the pit to the stage for this concert.

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James Conlon Talks Mozart and The Abduction from the Seraglio

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

“Nothing is as ugly as vengeance, whereas the quality of great souls is to be humanely kind and forgive without selfishness.” (Act III, The Abduction from the Seraglio*)

In the final months of his life, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed two operas, written simultaneously in 1791: The Magic Flute, a German Singspiel (“singing play”) alternating musical numbers with spoken dialogue; and La Clemenza di Tito (The Clemency of Titus), an Italian opera seria. He might just as well have given his earlier Singspiel, 1782’s The Abduction from Seraglio, a different title: The Clemency of Pasha Selim. After all, the planned abduction fails to materialize. And of the many issues addressed in this work, the rejection of vengeance and the power of forgiveness are at its center, embodied in the person of Pasha Selim.

Impatient to impress Kaiser Joseph II, one of Europe’s greatest Enlightenment monarchs, Mozart jumped at the opportunity to “lift the national German stage to recognition in music!” He showed that not just he, but German music, could be freed from the virtual monopoly of Italian opera. Taking the popular form of Singspiel, he merges it with Italianate sophistication. This, in time, would lead to The Magic Flute, Beethoven’s Fidelio and the 19th-century German genre of Spieloper (“opera play”).

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

Mozart was 20 when British historian and man of letters Horace Walpole reiterated in a private letter what was to become his famous epigram: “The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.” The highly cultured Walpole might even have heard about the young genius from Salzburg.

Comedies make us think through provoking laughter and humor. Tragedies and melodramas make us feel, and sometimes weep. In the 18th century, Italian opera was compartmentalized: opera buffa made us laugh, opera seria made us think. Most importantly, they both pleased the ear. Mozart clouded this distinction by elevating the level of comic opera to deal with more serious subjects.

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The Abduction from the Seraglio: Mozart’s Ambitious Declaration of Independence

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

With The Abduction from the Seraglio, Mozart scored the biggest stage success he would enjoy during his lifetime. It premiered in Vienna on July 16, 1782, and, by the fourth performance—according to Mozart himself—the show was “creating such a sensation that they don’t want to see or hear anything else, and the theater is packed full each time.”

Nowadays Abduction ranks among the less frequently encountered of Mozart’s mature stage works. One reason might be that it suffers from what director James Robinson calls “ugly-title syndrome.” Catchy titles, to be sure, can go a long way toward securing recognition for even second-rate works. Robinson adds: “Abduction is underrated in many ways. It’s one of the most unabashedly romantic pieces that Mozart ever wrote. The way he addresses relationships and longing, as well as all the things that accompany love and its potential loss, is so heartfelt. Abduction wears its emotions on its sleeve. And it’s also a wonderfully funny piece.”

The stakes for the success of Abduction were high.

When Mozart started working on his new project in the summer of 1781, he was right in the middle of a period of profound transition—personally as well as professionally. The year had started with the premiere, in Munich, of Idomeneo, an ambitious opera that represented a major artistic leap forward for the composer. A few months after that came a dramatic confrontation with his boss, Count Hieronymus Colloredo, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Among the many reasons Mozart felt so miserable at Colloredo’s provincial court was the lack of opportunities to write opera, the art form he loved most of all.

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4 Reasons to See The Abduction from the Seraglio Next Month

A scene from James Robinson's "Orient Express" production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

A scene from James Robinson’s “Orient Express” production of The Abduction from the Seraglio; Photo: George Hixson / Houston Grand Opera

Ever since last season’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, we’ve been eagerly waiting to stage another one of Mozart’s work at LA Opera. Next month, we get to do just that! Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio opens on January 28 and here are five reasons to see this riotous opera.

Did we mention that it’s Mozart?

Mozart’s effervescent score is sure to thrill audiences—even though Emperor Joseph II asked that Mozart cut a few notes from the piece when it was first presented to him. (Check out that moment and the finale of Abduction as depicted in the Miloš Forman biopic Amadeus below.)

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About The Magic Flute

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Magic Flute has started enchanting audiences with its silent film inspired magic. In case you’ve missed the Flute love these past few weeks (or want to learn more before seeing the show), we’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why The Magic Flute is a must-see this opera season.

Get To Know The Magic Flute

Rehearsing The Magic Flute

There is usually a pretty standard way of rehearsing opera. The director has a concept for the production – a vision that has been in play with designers and production staff years ahead of the first rehearsal. When singers do arrive, they spend time with the director, reaching a compromise on character choices, and perfecting their knowledge of the music. Sometimes bits of music are cut out; other times bits of music are added. This whole process starts in rehearsal rooms then moves onto stage within a matter of weeks. The rehearsal process for The Magic Flute is entirely different. Learn more.

5 Silent Films To Watch Before Seeing The Magic Flute

Barrie Kosky, Susanne Andrade, and Paul Barritt’s production of The Magic Flute is heavily inspired by the silent film era and the spirit of the roaring twenties. In Kosky’s words, “Papageno is suggestive of Buster Keaton, while Monostatos is a bit Nosferatu, and Pamina perhaps a bit reminiscent of Louise Brooks.” There are a plethora of silent films to check out before seeing The Magic Flute, as the silent film era was a rich time for the industry. Filmmakers explored the artistry of the cinematic medium, creating new stories and adapting classic – even operatic – works for a new audience (King Vidor’s excellent 1926 La Boheme film is definitely worth a movie night). Before you step into the world of The Magic Flute, here are a few silent films to watch to get you in the 1920s spirit.

Designing The Magic Flute: Roaring Twenties Fantasy Film

The Magic Flute is a roaring-twenties set vision. It has the beauty of a classic Louise Brooks film (like Pandora’s Box) , but live. Here, the production team – Suzanne Andrade, Barrie Kosky, and Paul Barritt – talk about the concept behind their vision for Mozart’s fantasy opera.

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Ben Bliss Talks Tamino

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

For Ben Bliss, playing Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute is like coming home. Not only is he back at LA Opera (he was part of the Young Artist program from 2011-2013), but Tamino was also the first opera role Bliss ever sang.

As an undergrad at Chapman University studying film, Bliss also sang in the choir. When his voice coach threatened to lower his grade if he didn’t try out for The Magic Flute, Bliss auditioned and won the role of Tamino. It was a defining moment, because even after a few years’ stint working for Dr. Phil post-college, Bliss couldn’t quite shake the opera bug and has been singing ever since.

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Ben Bliss as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

A celebration of true love conquering all, The Magic Flute transports us into an enchanted world where good faces the forces of darkness. It follows the story of Prince Tamino, who is tasked by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from the supposedly evil Sarastro.

Tamino is a fun character to tackle. “The music is divine and there are so many different directions you can go with the character,” says Bliss. His favorite Tamino moment occurs in Act I, when Tamino finds himself at the gates of Sarastro’s kingdom. He sings a dialogue with an animated Speaker, who guards the gates. It’s an interesting scene, because it’s the first time in the opera that Tamino thinks the Queen of the Night might be lying to him about Pamina’s situation. Is Sarastro really the evil one? Bliss also enjoys the scene, because it’s unlike many other tenor moments in Mozart operas. It’s a conversation as opposed to a moment when everything stops, so the tenor can sing gloriously about how much he loves the soprano.

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Music Monday: Papageno Wants A Wife

Jonathan Michie as Pagageno in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Jonathan Michie as Pagageno in The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew Photo by Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging

The Queen of the Night’s second aria is the arguably the most recognized piece of operatic music. Yet, there’s something so refreshing about Papageno’s Aria (“Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” or “A Little Wife”) in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Papageno sings his aria towards the end of Act II, after Pamina has fallen in love with Tamino. He longs for a little wife of his own to keep him company (which he says is better than wine, according to an English translation used in 1984’s hit film, Amadeus). It’s a light aria that Papageno sings, while indulging in several cocktails, and in which he gets a sneak peek at his future wife, Papagena. The aria’s theme is later reprises at the end of the opera, when Papageno and Papagena have found each other.

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Rehearsing The Magic Flute

Ben Bliss (Tamino) rehearsing The Magic Flute (2016)

Ben Bliss (Tamino) rehearsing The Magic Flute (2016)

There is usually a pretty standard way of rehearsing opera. The director has a concept for the production – a vision that has been in play with designers and production staff years ahead of the first rehearsal. When singers do arrive, they spend time with the director, reaching a compromise on character choices, and perfecting their knowledge of the music. Sometimes bits of music are cut out; other times bits of music are added. This whole process starts in rehearsal rooms then moves onto stage within a matter of weeks.

The rehearsal process for The Magic Flute is entirely different.

Why?

Projection Wall - The Magic Flute (2016)

Projection Wall – The Magic Flute (2016)

Our production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute is inspired by the silent film (and early “talkie”) era and is comprised entirely of projected film. Singers stand on stage or on platforms that are 9ft high off the ground, 18” in diameter, and attached to a giant wall. Animated video (in the style of Max Fleischer cartoons or the classic Disney “Skeleton Dance”) is projected onto the wall behind the singers. The singers cannot see what’s behind them, despite the fact that they interact with the animation projected (at one point an animated bird lands on Pamina’s hand).

In a regular opera, there’s some forgiveness, the orchestra, the staging, pretty much everything can adjust in real time. For this opera – there’s none of that.

The required precision means that all character decisions for the singer have already been made by the director (and there are no bits of music being added or taken out). As the film designs and animations are already set, there’s no room for compromise.

Brenton Ryan (Monostatos) pulling an animated dog across the stage during The Magic Flute (2016) rehearsal

Brenton Ryan (Monostatos) pulling an animated dog across the stage during The Magic Flute (2016) rehearsal

Singers also have an added job in rehearsal. They must learn highly choreographed movement that cannot be altered during a performance. If, for example, Monostatos is going to be pulling a dog’s leash at this point in the projection and at this point in the music, his hand has to be in that exact spot for it to look like he’s interacting with the animation. To hit their marks, singers practice with the set and projections as soon as possible, as opposed to only when they arrive on stage for tech rehearsals. They also must rehearse in the dark for the projections to be seen.

It’s not only the singers that are learning the show earlier in the process. The staging staff and crew are learning and planning for highly choreographed work. This show has one stage manager and three assistant stage managers (“ASMs”). The stage manager calls the majority of the 666 cues in the show from a secluded area front of house. That’s 2-3 times as many as there are in most other shows. And, unlike other shows, 25% of the cues are visual instead of the usual 5%. The stage manager must be able to see the projections and know the show well enough to call a cue on time or ahead of time to prepare cast and crew.

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#WordWednesday: Singspiel

WW - Singspiel

SINGSPIEL (12 Scrabble points) – German – A singspiel, which literally translates to “sing-play” is a German comic opera that mixes spoken dialogue with singing. Singspiels are folkloric in nature, often having fantasy elements. If you are slightly more inclined towards musical theater, then singspiels are the opera genre for you. Famous singspiels include Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio (coming next season) and The Magic Flute (though our upcoming production has taken out the dialogue).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYg1zSrQIyo

Excited about our upcoming singspiels? Learn more below.

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Music Monday: Queen of the Night Aria

<em>The Magic Flute</em> (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute opens this Saturday and that means you’ll be able to hear one of the most famous – and extravagant – arias in opera history, “Der Hölle Rache” (aka the “Queen of the Night Aria”). Sung during Act II of the opera, this aria is a pivotal moment in the relationship between the Queen of Night and her daughter, Pamina. The Queen orders Pamina to kill the Queen’s rival, Sarastro, on pain of cursing and forsaking Pamina if she does not comply. It requires disciplined and killer vocal range, as it spans two octaves (hello incredibly low notes and incredibly high notes – all within one aria). Check out Diana Damrau (who will tackle all four heroines in next season’s The Tales of Hoffmann) take on the aria below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpVV9jShEzU

Excited for The Magic Flute? Learn more below.

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5 Silent Films To Watch Before Seeing The Magic Flute

<em>The Magic Flute</em> (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Barrie Kosky, Susanne Andrade, and Paul Barritt’s production of The Magic Flute is heavily inspired by the silent film era and the spirit of the roaring twenties. In Kosky’s words, “Papageno is suggestive of Buster Keaton, while Monostatos is a bit Nosferatu, and Pamina perhaps a bit reminiscent of Louise Brooks.” There are a plethora of silent films to check out before seeing The Magic Flute, as the silent film era was a rich time for the industry. Filmmakers explored the artistry of the cinematic medium, creating new stories and adapting classic – even operatic – works for a new audience (King Vidor’s excellent 1926 La Boheme film is definitely worth a movie night). Before you step into the world of The Magic Flute, here are a few silent films to watch to get you in the 1920s spirit.

Why Worry (1923)

Director Fred Newmeyer’s adventure comedy centers on hypochondriac Harold Lloyd, who escapes his rich, business focused life to the tropics, only to find himself in the middle of a revolution.

In our Magic Flute, Papageno is basically Buster Keaton with a Harold Lloyd Twist. Similar fashions, similar comedic impulses.

The Gold Rush (1925)

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

Charlie Chaplin is the king of silent film comedies and The Gold Rush is arguably one of his best pictures. Chaplin stars as a lone prospector, who ventures to Alaska in search of gold, and falls in love with a woman named Georgia. Chaplin’s brand of slapstick comedy permeates the fantasy world of this Magic Flute.

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNooc1KH65Q

If you’re a Monostatos fan, you’ll love that his character is heavily inspired by Nosferatu. F.W. Murnau’s classic horror film, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, tells the story of Count Orlok and his interest in his real estate agent’s wife. The film has a subtle German Expressionist (the style of cinematography that later inspired film noir) feel that helps it retain its rightful place as one of the greatest classic horror films – a must-see for horror junkies everywhere. (LA Opera is presenting Nosferatu this Halloween at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.)

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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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Sneak Peek Behind-the-Scenes of The Magic Flute

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYg1zSrQIyo

Our 2014 production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute marked the first time in opera that all physical scenery was entirely replaced by video projection. A marvel of Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky’s 1927 inspiration, this Flute took us back to the roaring twenties in cinematic style.

This upcoming February, The Magic Flute returns to wow more Los Angeles audiences.

The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The Magic Flute (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Take a sneak peek behind-the-scenes below to see how some of the tech for the show works.

Where can you find Pamina?

Pamina, daughter stands on a tiny revolving door platform that pivots out of the wall that serves as a projection screen. She is harnessed and buckled into the wall.  Monostatos (Sarastro’s slave) stands on the first level of the stage. All other scenic elements are video projections.

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#TBT: Erwin Schrott in Don Giovanni

Erwin Schrott as the title character in <em>Don Giovanni</em> (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Before seeing Erwin Schrott’s live concert, Cuba Amiga, this Saturday, take a journey through LA Opera history and check out Schrott in Don Giovanni. He’s sung the title role in Mozart’s “Don Juan” opera 17 times here in Los Angeles, most recently in 2007.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAlpr8ZEJaQ

Can’t get enough of Erwin Schrott? Learn more about his latest concert, Cuba Amiga, below and make sure to snag your tickets before they’re gone.

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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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