Tag Archives: Omar Crook

Hear Matthew Aucoin’s Thoughts on Akhnaten

Matthew Aucoin (right) and Summer Hassan (left); Photo: Ben Gibbs

Matthew Aucoin (right) and Summer Hassan (left); Photo: Ben Gibbs

This fall has been very busy for Matthew Aucoin – LA Opera’s new artist-in-residence. Not only did he compose, conduct, curate and perform in October’s wildly popular Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (held at The Theater at Ace Hotel), he also made his LA Opera mainstage debut conducting Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. In the below excerpt of a podcast hosted by Living with A Genius’s Omar Crook, Aucoin talks about how he tackled the challenging Glass opera.

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Phelim McDermott Discusses Akhnaten

Phelim McDermott directing cast members during a rehearsal for Akhnaten (2016); Photo: Lawrence K. Ho

Phelim McDermott directing cast members during a rehearsal for Akhnaten (2016); Photo: Lawrence K. Ho

Director Phelim McDermott’s staging of Akhnaten is anything but ordinary. By instructing the singers and cast members to move slowly through the world of Akhnaten, McDermott creates an atmosphere that is hypnotic. It’s difficult to look away from such intensity, which is not unlike the intense intimacy you get from a film close-up. He further captures the pharaoh’s world through abstract use of juggling and a set greatly influenced by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics discovered by Egyptologists in the 1920s.

Anthony Roth Costanzo as the title character in Akhnaten 2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Anthony Roth Costanzo as the title character in Akhnaten (2016); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

While McDermott is now comfortable in staging Philip Glass (Akhnaten is his third Glass production), directing Glass was not always on his to-do list.

In the below excerpt of a podcast hosted by Living with A Genius’s Omar Crook, McDermott discusses how he came to direct Akhnaten and his vision for the show.

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Omar Crook on LA Opera and Living With A Genius

Omar Crook

Omar Crook; Photo: Marc Royce

LA Opera chorister Omar Crook has appreciated opera since he was a child, spending summers roaming the creaky corridors of his grandparents’ house.

“My grandfather had a really nice tape player. One day, I came across the iconic Decca recording of Luciano Pavarotti singing Canio in Pagliacci,” says Crook. “I had just finished playing Billy Idol’s ‘Eyes Without a Face,’ and I was jazzed up. Then, I played all of Pagliacci and the music grabbed me just as much.”

Crook did not immediately pursue opera. In fact, he spent several years narrowing down the careers he wanted, taking a variety of classes from literature to marine biology. He ultimately decided on writing and was accepted into UCLA’s creative writing program. To transfer to UCLA from Santa Monica college, he needed to fulfill one more requirement. That’s how Crook found himself in a beginning voice class.

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