Tag Archives: Salome

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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Celebrate 10 Years of Artistic Leadership

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

James Conlon; Photo: Chester Higgins

James Conlon’s remarkable work with the LA Opera Orchestra has elevated LA Opera’s artistry to a new level of excellence. He has also brought lost works to life through the Recovered Voices project and, working closely with Plácido Domingo, has contributed enormously to developing a love for opera in our city.

From convening, citywide festivals to packing the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall during his pre-performance talks, Mr. Conlon has become one of the most visible advocates for classical music in Los Angeles.

This season, Maestro Conlon celebrates his tenth anniversary as LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, and he recently extended his contract to the 2020/2021 season.

LA Opera invites you to celebrate Maestro Conlon’s achievements by supporting the James Conlon Tenth Anniversary Initiative, which will provide critical funds to support new programing and further enhance our acclaimed orchestra.

Additionally, we’ve curated some articles, videos, and a podcast below to help you get to know Maestro Conlon and illustrate why he has become a beloved figure in the cultural life of Los Angeles.

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What’s a heckelphone and why did William May learn to play it for Salome?

William May and the hecklephone

William May and the heckelphone

Salome is one of the most challenging operas to play. Musicians are tasked with a score that pushes the limits of what’s considered playable for an orchestra. LA Opera Orchestra Principal Bassoonist William May had a further challenge. In less than a year, May learned a rare instrument to play in Salome – the heckelphone.

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James Conlon Joins Stephen Fry to Discuss Salome at American Cinematheque

Rita Hayworth Salome

Rita Hayworth as the title character in the classic 1953 film version of Salome

The story of Salome has inspired artists, filmmakers, and opera composers for centuries. Some adapted the original Biblical story – and scandalous Oscar Wilde play – while others have utilized elements from the tale of Salome to inform their own story. Nowhere does Salome’s story come to life more than in opera and on the silver screen.

To celebrate Salome in film and in opera, American Cinematheque and LA Opera have joined forces to present a special evening at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. First, there will be a screening of the famous 1953 film version of Salome starring Rita Hayworth. While the film takes liberties with the Biblical story, it is a perfect example of film epics in the “glory days of technicolor” and required viewing for both Salome and film enthusiasts. Following the screening, Maestro James Conlon (who conducts Salome at LA Opera starting on February 18) and actor Stephen Fry (who portrayed Oscar Wilde in the 1997 biopic) will discuss the importance of Salome in film and opera. All attendees will automatically be entered to win a pair of tickets to LA Opera’s production of Salome.

Before attending the evening at the Aero, get in the mood. We’ve pulled together a few films to watch and music from the opera.

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Patricia Racette Gets Into Salome’s Head

Share Soprano Patricia Racette’s 2016/17 season features a triple run of Salome, with recent performances for the Metropolitan Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, and now in Los Angeles, where it’s her fifth leading role. (She’ll also reprise the femme fatale for … Continue reading

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Salome’s Two Worlds Projected

LA Opera first presented its provocative production of Salome during its inaugural season in 1986. That iconic production featured a backdrop of hand painted, psychedelic projections envisioned by designer John Bury. Salome returns to LA Opera this month and features new projections that build upon Bury’s original designs and showcase the title character’s mental state throughout the opera.

Bury’s original projections (see below) were abstract and textural, containing a dark color scheme (reds, blues, and purples). Some projections feature shapes that look like bubbles or blood cells, while others create patterns using horizontal lines.

A still from John Bury's original projections

A still from John Bury’s original projections

Updated since their original use, the new projections are no longer hand painted. Projection Designer Alisa Lapidus digitized Bury’s projections and used them as the base for the new projections (which are both digital and animated). These new projections reflect director David Paul’s emphasis on Salome’s journey between two worlds – the one she lives in and the one in her head.

A still from the new projections for Salome

A still from the new projections for Salome

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Beyond Salome’s Veils

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

Salome the virgin vamp has had her ups and downs—from the opera stage to burlesque, from fine art to novelty songs like “When Miss Patricia Salome Did Her Funny Little Oo-La-Pa-Lome.” And who can forget Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, finally ready for her close-up, descending the staircase as the delusional Norma Desmond playing Salome? So many Salomes—one can only draw back the veils, one at a time, in order to get at the truth.

Unveiling Salome’s Origins

The mythical origins of Salome reach back to the ancient fertility figure Ishtar who performed a Welcome Dance to celebrate the renewal of nature. In classical times, this fertility figure became Demeter who gave humanity agriculture and her daughter Persephone who personified vegetation, withdrawing into the earth after the harvest only to return again in the spring. Most of us know the biblical Salome, whose name is similar to the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom,” and who appears in the books of Mark and Matthew, a beautiful virgin dancing to appease the lust of Herod.

But there was also a real Salome, born about 15 AD and married first to a Palestine governor and later to a ruler in Asia Minor. She also appears in the histories of Flavius Josephus, who was the first to name her as the daughter of Herodias, a detail retained by Seneca, Livy, and Plutarch.

"Salome in the Graden" by Gustave Moreau

“Salome in the Graden” by Gustave Moreau

Unveiling the Artful Salome

From these origins, we can already see a number of themes emerging: mysterious femininity, sexual power, a mixture of the earthy and the mystical. Interest in Salome grew as Europeans encountered other cultures through conquest or exploration, especially following Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt and Syria. A fascination with the orient spread throughout Europe in architecture, painting and the decorative arts. This orientalism (a controversial but useful term) also flowered in literature. The appearance in the late eighteenth century of the French translation of One Thousand and One Nights was followed by English versions in the nineteenth century, some bowdlerized for Victorian readers, some with all the juicy bits. It is easy to imagine Salome as the naughty cousin of Scheherazade, the resourceful and imaginative narrator of Nights who kept herself from being beheaded by entertaining the king with fascinating tales.

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James Conlon Talks 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

“Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensations. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both.”

Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Arriving on the heels of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio in our season, it is difficult to compare these totally different works without reflecting on how the world had changed. European civilization was sitting on a fault line when Richard Strauss wrote Salome. Strauss, who placed “the miracle Mozart, immediately after Bach,” could not turn to the latter for operatic prototypes, but found immeasurable inspiration in Mozart’s operas.

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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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Salome Cover Art Contest Winners Announced

Salome Art Contest Winner - Marshall Dahlin

Salome Art Contest Winner – Marshall Dahlin

The votes are in…Congratulations to our winners!

This past fall, LA Opera hosted a contest for currently enrolled college art and design students in southern California. Students were asked to submit artwork for LA Opera’s spring production of Strauss’s Salome for a chance to be featured on the cover of the show’s performance program and displayed at the home of LA Opera, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Thanks to the generous support of GRoW @ Annenberg, more than 35 students from 14 different southern California institutions competed for cash prizes and to see their artwork on this season’s Salome program cover. The winners were chosen by a jury, chaired by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of the Annenberg Foundation and by Regina Weingarten, a member of the LA Opera board of directors. The jury also included Christopher Koelsch, LA Opera President and CEO; Diane Bergman, LA Opera Vice President of Marketing and Communications; Keith Rainville, LA Opera Brand Manager; and Tim Johnson, Film Director at DreamWorks Animation and a member of the LA Opera board of directors. We are pleased to announce our three winners: Marshall Dahlin, David Kwock, and Lauren Moss.

The top submission (see below), by Marshall Dahlin of Cal State Fullerton, was selected for the Salome cover, and earned him a $5,000 prize.

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Give the Gift of Opera This Holiday Season

The Tales of Hoffmann (2002); Photo: Robert Millard

The Tales of Hoffmann (2002); Photo: Robert Millard

Thousands of people just like you come to LA Opera each year to experience the magnificence that can only be found in opera. Through world-class staging and bold experimentation, opera has something for everyone, regardless of age, musical preferences or means. Here are some of the opera experiences you can give as gifts to your friends and family this holiday season.

Hop on Mozart’s Orient Express with The Abduction from the Seraglio

If you’re a fan of screwball comedies, this is the opera for you. Updated to the Roaring Twenties, this riotous staging marries the brilliance of Mozart’s comic gem with the flair of a classic Hollywood comedy. 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!

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Call for Entries – Artists and Designers – You’re Invited!

DESIGN ARTWORK FOR LA OPERA’S PRODUCTION OF SALOME
Are you a budding graphic designer or artist – or know one?

Salome (1986); Photo: Frederick Ohringer

Salome (1986); Photo: Frederick Ohringer

LA Opera is hosting a contest for currently enrolled college art and design students in Southern California.

You are invited to submit artwork for LA Opera’s spring production of Strauss’s Salome. The winning submission will be featured on the cover of the show’s performance program and displayed at the home of LA Opera, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

This contest is made possible with the generous support of GRoW@Annenberg.

What will you win?
The winning submissions will receive a combination of cash and recognition at the show.

  • First Prize: $5,000
  • Second Prize: $2,000
  • Third Prize: $1,000

Winners will be invited to attend the opening night performance of Salome (February 18, 2017) and the Cast Supper that follows the show.

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2016

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Opera Heroines Not To Mess With

Opera is filled with stories of betrayal, murder, and love that push characters to emotional extremes. Heroines (and anti-heroines) are often the characters most caught up in the drama. They love passionately, sacrifice greatly, and kill relentlessly.  We’ve created a list of ten multifaceted women, who aren’t afraid to lean in and stir the plot; they’re bold, brave and influential, even if it leads to their untimely death. See some of these fierce ladies at LA Opera this season and next season.

Lady Macbeth

Ekaterina Semenchuk as Lady Macbeth and Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2016); Photo: Karen Almond

Ekaterina Semenchuk as Lady Macbeth and Plácido Domingo as the title character in Macbeth (2016); Photo: Karen Almond

In Verdi’s Macbeth (based on the Shakespeare play), Lady Macbeth takes fierce to a whole new level. After learning of her husband’s victory in battle, she urges him to kill the king and take the crown. Macbeth does so, only to be filled with remorse. It is Lady Macbeth who completes the killing and frames two guards for the king’s murder. She wants power and social standing and will stop at nothing to achieve this. Verdi expands the role of “Lady M” in his opera, giving her character even more agency, and making her the epitome of an opera anti-heroine not to mess with. She might murder you, if you do!

Brünnhilde

Brunnhilde (Linda Watson) with Waltraute (Michelle DeYoung, rear left) in Gotterdammerung (2010); Photo: Monika Rittershaus

Brunnhilde (Linda Watson) with Waltraute (Michelle DeYoung, rear left) in Gotterdammerung (2010); Photo: Monika Rittershaus

Is Brünnhilde the strongest women in the entire opera repertory?  She is after all the central character in Richard Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle, appearing in three of the four Ring operas. A complex and compelling woman with a fascinating character arc, she is defined by her bravery and intelligence. She grasps what is happening in the world with keener perception than her father (Wotan, king of the gods) or her husband (the mighty-but-unintellectual hero Siegfried) and she is unafraid to take action to do what she thinks is necessary. Like many other Wagner heroines, she makes the ultimate sacrifice for love, but Brünnhilde’s martyrdom has the greatest impact: hers redeems the entire world.

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How Nicholas Brownlee Went From “Performing” on the Football Field to Being a Rising Opera Star

Nicholas Brownlee as Colline in La Bohème (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

Nicholas Brownlee as Colline in La Bohème (2016); Photo: Ken Howard

By the time bass-baritone Nicholas Brownlee finishes his second season in LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, he will have appeared in six different productions with the company. His is the robust voice audiences have heard from off stage in Moby-Dick and The Magic Flute and on stage in Madame Butterfly. He’s also the singer they will see in such diverse roles as Colline in the current production of La Bohème and as Cesare Angelotti in next season’s Tosca. While the 2015 Met Council Winner may sound and look at home on stage now, he did not always want to pursue a career in opera.

“I was always into performing, whether it was on the football field – I’m a super sports guy – or in choir,” says Brownlee, who originally wanted to be a choral conductor.  That all changed when he had his first opera experience.

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Music Monday: La Rondine

Patricia Racette as Magda in La Rondine (2008); Photo: Robert Millard

Patricia Racette as Magda in La Rondine (2008); Photo: Robert Millard

We’re all about Puccini these days with Madame Butterfly opening next month and La Boheme in May. Those two are arguably his most celebrated, but have you experienced the intriguing show that is La Rondine? Starkly different from the dramatic operas with which Puccini made his mark on the musical world, La Rondine is a comic opera that strives to bridge the gap between Puccini’s vision of opera and more lighthearted operetta (a difficult thing to do during the grim World War I time period in which it premiered). Although it differs from standard Puccini repertoire, it’s still a must listen before diving in to our very Puccini spring.

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What Kind of Opera Valentine Are You?

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the tile characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Rolando Villazón and Anna Netrebko as the title characters in Romeo et Juliette (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Opera is all about love. Passionate Love. Unrequited Love. Betrayed Love. Desperate Love. You-name-it love. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find out what kind of opera valentine you are.

The Storybook Romantic

You’re the kind of person, who appreciates storybook romance, even if it ends in tragedy. For you, it’s all Puccini, Verdi, and Mozart all the time. You can get down with the unrequited romance just as much as you can love the fantastical loves that conquer all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_B4yKMKmwA

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: Madame Butterfly

Other Operas to Check Out: The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Tosca

The Cinema Siren

You live and breathe film and love it when opera productions are inspired by your favorite movies or film eras (or when films use or are inspired by opera). Operatic love is like a good Classic Hollywood film; whether it ends happily or tragically, the love is always spectacular.

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

The Magic Flute (2014); Photo: Robert Millard

Best Opera Next Up at LAO: The Magic Flute

Other Operas to Check Out: La Boheme, Macbeth , Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

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Get To Know the 2016/17 Season!

LA Opera's 2016/17 Season

LA Opera’s 2016/17 Season

We’ve finally announced the 2016/2017 season and it’s going to be a big one. There are six mainstage operas, a semi-staged concert, and stellar off-grand productions to enjoy starting September 17.

https://youtu.be/8_2vNJr-GO4

Can’t wait for the excitement to begin? Take a look below and get to know all the 16/17 season has in store for Los Angeles.

Plácido Domingo and James Conlon unite to open season with Verdi’s Macbeth
The season opens with a new production of Verdi’s Macbeth (September 17 through October 16, 2016), starring Plácido Domingo in the title role and conducted by James Conlon. Ekaterina Semenchuk will perform the role of the treacherous Lady Macbeth. LA Opera’s first production of Macbeth since 1987 will be staged by Darko Tresnjak, director of the 2015 hit The Ghosts of Versailles.

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#LAO30Images Roundup

We are in the midst of our 30th Anniversary Season. This is a milestone year for a company that has grown to become the fourth largest opera company in the nation, lauded for both its unique artistic vision and innovation. Earlier this year, we introduced our #LAO30Images series. This year-long photo series, showcases photos from our most engaging productions that portray our extensive visual history. Throughout the season, we’ve been sharing images in batches of 30, based on larger themes.

In case you’ve missed the #LAO30Images fun, check out our year-end roundup.

ICONIC PRODUCTIONS

OTELLO (1986)

Plácido Domingo in Otello (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

Plácido Domingo in Otello (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

“The theme [of Otello] is eternal and current: The Soldier, shoved into peacetime, proves to be defenseless and helpless in the face of the attacks of everyday life, the persecutions of injured vanity. In ancient tragedy, the heroes fell because of the gods. With Shakespeare and Verdi, it is the envy of men which destroys the outsider.” – Götz Friedrich, director of inaugural season opener, Otello.

SALOME (1986)

Maria Ewing and Michael Devlin in Salome (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

Maria Ewing and Michael Devlin in Salome (1986); Photo: Frederic Ohringer

“All the characters in the opera are obsessed, often to the brink of madness. Obsessions make men blind, unable to understand other points of view or to admit the balancing power of reason. And such obsessions finally lead to violence [in Salome]. Salome’s passions lead directly to her death. She is crushed like an infectious insect. We can only approve of her end, while perhaps reflecting that all of us have the possibility of aberrant sexual behavior inside us. It is the obverse of true passion.” – Sir Peter Hall, director of 1986’s Salome

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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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#LAO30 Images Iconic Productions Day 1: Salome

“All the characters in the opera are obsessed, often to the brink of madness. Obsessions make men blind, unable to understand other points of view or to admit the balancing power of reason. And such obsessions finally lead to violence [in Salome]. Salome’s passions lead directly to her death. She is crushed like an infectious insect. We can only approve of her end, while perhaps reflecting that all of us have the possibility of aberrant sexual behavior inside us. It is the obverse of true passion.”

– Sir Peter Hall, director of 1986’s Salome

Salome, 1986, Photo By Frederic Ohringer

Maria Ewing and Michael Devlin in Salome (1986); Photo Credit: Frederic Ohringer

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