Tag Archives: Singing
On December 5, LA Opera kicks off its holiday music Tour with a recital at City of Hope. This is the fifth year of the beloved program that brings holiday cheer to patients at healthcare facilities across Los Angeles County, including Shriners Hospitals for Children, UCLA Harbor Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. While the tour brings beautiful music to audiences across LA County that celebrate the season, the recitals have a healing effect on those who need it most.
Every season, LA Opera presents multiple mainstage operas. The operas vary season to season, as does the cast. One thing that remains constant is the chorus. Under Resident Conductor Grant Gershon’s direction, the LA Opera Chorus has evolved into one of the nation’s most renowned choirs.
Gershon – a California native – started working as a pianist at LA Opera in its third season (1988). He remained with the company for six seasons, before moving to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He returned to work with LA Opera in 2007, making his company debut conducting multiple performances of Verdi’s La Traviata in 2009. Additionally, he has worked with the LA Opera Chorus ever since.
When asked what makes the LA Opera chorus unique, Gershon says, “I think that the talent pool in Los Angeles for singers is extraordinary and there’s a long-standing tradition of great solo singing and great ensemble singing in the city. From the beginning, LA Opera has always been able to draw on a really deep pool of talent and on singers who are very well trained and very enthusiastic about singing as an ensemble.” Some choristers have been with the company for over 100 productions; others are just starting their careers as vocalists.
I remember the night I was getting ready to see my sister perform in the children’s chorus in LA Opera’s production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen. I was nine years old and it was my first opera. As I stressed over what to wear, I kept imagining what it would be like when I opened the doors to the Dorothy Chandler: Hundreds of sophisticated adults in expensive outfits sipping champagne and discussing the show, and meanwhile I’d be sitting there feeling under dressed, under prepared, and terribly confused as to what they were even talking about.
Season’s Greetings! The holidays are a time to gather friends and family, to be thankful for what we have, and to be giving to those who are in need. Five years ago, our Education and Community Engagement Department began sending our teaching artists around LA County to sing holiday music a capella at more than a dozen care centers, including City of Hope, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Alzheimer’s Association, Huntington Hospital, Rancho Los Amigos, National Rehabilitation Center and the West LA and Long Beach VA Medical Centers. This month, our singers will perform beloved and familiar music in lobbies, recreation rooms and wards – even at bedside – at these and many other care centers.
Last year, after the artists finished singing to a group of disabled veterans, one elderly vet quickly left the room. A moment later, he reappeared with several pieces of paper in his hands. He gave them to the singers and shyly explained that he wrote poetry and he hoped they would accept a few of his poems as a gift of appreciation for what they had given him. The director of the Veterans Home of California followed up with her own expression of thanks:
“Holidays become more precious with age as memories are relived, sadly for some, without many of their family members. Therefore, I feel honored to thank their new friends from LA Opera for making this holiday season very special. Again, I send my most sincere appreciation and thank LA Opera for your part in improving the lives of our great men and women of the United States military.”
“My dream is to become a little old lady opera director.”
– Anne Bogart
Norma is arguably Vincenzo Bellini’s masterpiece. It’s a vocal fireworks of an opera, where singers utilize every tactic in their vocal range to express the deepest of emotions: love. Director Anne Bogart and designer Neil Patel understand this implicitly. Their Norma is a version that removes the frippery, “the spectacle of the mis en scene” and in turn fuels the vocal energy at the core of Bellini’s storytelling.
This is a style of theater that Bogart advocates as the Co-Artistic Director of the famed New York theater institution, SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992.
In Norma, Bogart brings her minimalist vision and unique acting technique to the operatic world. It’s a medium that serves Bogart’s vision well. She believes that “the kernel at the heart of the theatrical experience is terror,” but in theater the struggle is “how do we create a moment that creates that ancient terror while also having some restraint?”