Search Results for: opera camp

Why I Love Opera Camp

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Spring, 2016.

I’d been refreshing my email constantly for days on end, anxiously waiting for the email holding my fate. I auditioned for Opera Camp about a month earlier, and had been waiting for the results ever since. I’d found out about the program when I’d auditioned for Noah’s Flood months before. Patience however, was slowly edging its way out of my grasp. Then, suddenly I saw it:

Congratulations! We would like to inform you that you have been accepted and cast for our 16/17 Opera Camp!!!!

And so it began.
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Opera Camp Encourages Children and Teens to Express Themselves through Music and Drama

Opera Camp 2017

Opera Camp 2017

UPDATE: Maestro James Conlon will be conducting both performances of Brundibár.

One of our beloved Opera Camp’s teaching artists, Judy Johnson, started performing at the age of eight. She sang in church, studied voice in high school and college, and then worked as an actress in Los Angeles. In 2014, she loved her life as an actress, but realized something was missing. After a life spent performing, Johnson wanted to give back to her community in another way.

That desire combined with her love of opera led her to become an LA Opera teaching artist.

Her first role with LA Opera was as Assistant Director for last year’s Opera Camp production of Then I Stood Up. Her enthusiasm for the work and her passion for teaching our campers shines through.
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What is Opera Camp?

An Innovative Summer Camp

Opera Camp 2017

Opera Camp 2017

For the past 17 years, we’ve hosted Opera Camp. It is a two-week immersive program where students aged 9-17 experience all aspects of opera production, guided by LA Opera artists. They are coached in singing, movement and learn about staging, scenic and prop design, and stage management.

Our campers have arrived this week. They’ve been rehearsing and exploring the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

But, our campers are also learning about something else.

Opera Camp connects campers to the past and to today’s toughest issues. It brings context to headlines and shows students their potential to impact the world.
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All About That Opera Camp

Luz Duran (left) and Chaya Forman (right) during a break from Opera Camp 2016

Luz Duran (left) and Chaya Forman (right) during a break from Opera Camp 2016

Chaya Forman and Luz Duran love to sing. Chaya used to sing with the National Children’s Chorus, while Luz loves singing pop songs and can easily break into a rendition of Alicia Keyes’ “Girl On Fire.” They’re also both rising seventh graders and will spend two weeks of their summer at LA Opera’s Opera Camp, rehearsing and performing Then I Stood Up, a youth opera about the contributions of young people to the Civil Rights Movement.

It’s also their first year in the camp and they’re loving the experience so far.  We spoke with the girls to get a sense of what life is like for a first year camper.

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Opera Camp Never Gets Old

Samuel Bindschadler

Samuel Bindschadler

Envision yourself on stage. You’re in character, singing a role you love, and connecting with hundreds of audience members. You’ve worked hard for this moment and it’s more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. It also doesn’t feel like work, because you’ve enjoyed every minute.

This is how I feel every year during LA Opera’s summer youth program, Opera Camp. It’s some of the most rewarding “work” I’ve had the pleasure of doing. This year, I will participate in the camp for the fourth time, for which I am immensely grateful. Over the past few years, I have learned so much from amazing teaching artists and directors (particularly Eli Villanueva, Leslie Stevens, and Karen Hogle Brown) and even Maestro James Conlon.

The camp only lasts two weeks, but it is an intense two weeks. It never ceases to astound me how quickly the camp passes and how much I learn in such a short period of time. Few words can do justice to how working with Eli, Leslie, Karen, and all of the other magnificent performers and teaching artists enhance my (and other kids) knowledge of acting, singing, performance, and an artist’s responsibility. Whether through the lyrics of Hans Krása in Brundibár—in which, in 2011, I played “Little Joe,” a young man, who seeks out aid from unwilling adults to save his ailing mother—or Then I Stood Up—in which, this year, I will play the role of Pastor Jim—LA Opera always makes sure we learn both about performing and the history behind each opera.

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From Zarzuela to Opera Camp

Jesus, Beatrice, and Diego in Zarzuela garb

Jesus, Beatrice, and Diego in Zarzuela garb

Jesus and Diego Lopez (17 and 10, respectively) wanted nothing to do with classical music. When their mother, Beatriz Zaragoza, played classical music in the car, the boys complained. This all changed when the family discovered LA Opera’s Zarzuela Project.

With the Community Opera Choruses Network, LA Opera engages people from around LA County (with a concentrated focus on East LA) to explore opera. The Zarzuela Project is a key component of this network. Led by a team of LA Opera teaching artists, the project accepts all ages and weekly rehearsals are held at Salesian High School in East LA. Fernandez’s students rehearse various Zarzuelas and perform them at partner venues around the community. It is a project that is very dear to LA Opera General Director Plácido Domingo, whose parents were both Zarzuela singers.

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It’s Not Sleep Away Camp, It’s Opera Camp!

Katie and Annie Lee rehearse “Everything Breathes” from <em>The White Bird of Poston</em>. They are led here (off-camera) by teaching artists Leslie Stevens and Charlie Kim.

Katie and Annie Lee rehearse “Everything Breathes” from The White Bird of Poston. They are led here (off-camera) by teaching artists Leslie Stevens and Charlie Kim.

Today’s headlines are filled with stories of inequality, injustice and hate. Understanding our role in changing the world can be daunting. Through its annual Opera Camp program, LA Opera is teaching kids 9 – 17 how every action counts.

For the the past 15 years, LA Opera has hosted Opera Camp, a two-week immersive program where campers learn about opera – the artistry, the production, the skills – and prepares them to perform one. Every year, between 50 and 60 children and teens participate in the camp. … Continue reading

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Penny Woolcock on Directing Opera

Penny Woolcock directing a scene from The Pearl Fishers at LA Opera

Penny Woolcock directing a scene from The Pearl Fishers at LA Opera

Over the past 17 years, British filmmaker Penny Woolcock has made a name for herself in the opera world. After directing a film adaptation of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer (which won the Jury Prize at the Brussels European Film Festival and the Prix Italia), Woolcock staged John Adams’ Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera and the English National Opera. She followed Doctor Atomic with a production of The Pearl Fishers at the English National Opera (ENO) in 2010, which ENO revived last year and which also had a successful run at the Metropolitan Opera. Now, Woolcock has brought The Pearl Fishers to Los Angeles. Before a rehearsal, we sat down with Woolcock to discuss her entry into the opera world and how she brings The Pearl Fishers to life.

You’ve had a successful career in film and television especially with the Tina trilogy, Tina Goes Shopping, Tina Takes a Break and One Mile Away. What drew you to opera?

I love music. When I was a teenager, I lived in Buenos Aires and I used to go the Teatro Colón with a friend. We were so high up, you couldn’t see the stage unless you held the other person’s legs while leaning over the balcony. [laughter] It’s been something I’ve always had a feeling for but I never imagined I would get a chance to direct it.

I’d also really loved John Adams’s music. I remember going into a record shop in Newcastle in 1988 and they were playing Nixon in China. I asked the guy in the store and asked, “What is this? I must have it!” Then, in the late ‘90s, I went to a concert performance of the The Death of Klinghoffer choruses. I was really moved by the way the first two heartbreaking choruses express the claims of two traumatized, dispossessed people over the same piece of land. It brought me to tears and the friend I was with saw that and said, ‘You should make a film of it,’ and I thought, ‘Yes, I should.’ I emailed the head of Channel 4 Music and to my surprise my phone rang immediately and she said, ‘What a fantastic idea!’ I was sort of known for making films about tough inner-city communities, not opera, but she thought that I might invent something different than just filming a staged performance. Then, obviously, I had to see if John Adams would approve. Again, it was one of those right place, right time moments, because he said that he’d always wanted someone to make a movie of one of his operas.

So, I made The Death of Klinghoffer.

We filmed John conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and we recorded the singers in isolation booths at Abbey Road Studios (where The Beatles famously recorded).

Once we had that, we hired a cruise line and sailed across the Mediterranean. We shot the film on location. John’s assistant conductor came with us and was running around behind the camera, conducting the singers as we shot them with a handheld camera. It was quite a magical experience and funnily enough we ended up using over 80% of the live sound in the final mix.
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Falling in Love with Opera Helped Change Ting Perlis’s Life

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

Ting (left) and Deborah (right) Perlis at a performance of The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017)

A few months ago, we received an extraordinary letter from Deborah Perlis.

Perlis’s daughter, Ting, took part in two of our education and community engagement programs, and Deborah was eager to share with us just how much Ting’s opera experience helped change her life.

When Ting was diagnosed with autism at the age of 10, she and her mother Deborah didn’t know what do. For the next few years, all they heard from professionals was a laundry list of things that Ting would never do or have. Ting struggled in school, had low self-esteem and rarely spoke of her future, except to ask what would become of her.

Despite all the challenges Ting faces every day, she has always had a love of singing.

On a whim, Deborah reached out to our Education and Community Engagement team to discuss some options for Ting. With their help, Ting began her journey at LA Opera.
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Attention Campers – Arias That Make the Bears Go Away

Shawnet Sweets, our resident opera junkie is at it again.

So Young Park as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann (2017); Photo: Ken Howard

In addition to work and all her other adventures, Shawnet is a camper. During a recent critter-interrupted camping trip, Shawnet discovered that some of her favorite arias startled and shooed her uninvited visitors away. Those visitors were bears.

Just in time for the final weekend of summer, she’s shared her “Bear-Scare Aria Playlist” with us.

Forget the traditional banging of pots and pans. If you’re headed to the wilderness to cap off the summer this Labor Day Weekend, be sure to take these tunes along. You’ll enjoy them and it might keep those pesky bears away.
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What’s It Like To Be An LA Opera Teaching Artist?

Laurie Peebler

Laurie Peebler

Laurie Peebler first joined LA Opera as a dancer.

She  performed in all four operas of Wagner’s Ring Cycle spanning our company’s 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons. Prior to joining LAO, Peebler’s performance background was focused on classical theater and small dance productions.

“I considered myself a Shakespeare nerd with movement experience when I auditioned for The Ring beside a mix of actors, dancers, stunt performers, circus artists and puppeteers,” Peebler explains. “The director led us through physical storytelling exercises that uniquely suited my skill set. I booked the job, my first time working in the world of opera, and it changed my life.”

Laurie Peebler working with kids through Secondary In-School Opera

Laurie Peebler working with kids through Secondary In-School Opera

 

After working on the Ring Cycle, Peebler went on to be featured in LA Opera’s La Cenerentola as well.

Then personal developments led to a shift in professional priorities.

“I became a mom and wanted more control over my schedule,” says Peebler. “At the same time, I hoped to stay connected to this amazing company and to feed my love of performing.”

That’s when Peebler traded late night rehearsals and day-long auditioning for working with kids as part of our Secondary In-School Opera (SISO) program.

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LA Opera: For The Greater Good

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Did you know that LA Opera is a non-profit?

Many people don’t realize that most arts organizations are non-profits, built to help people find common ground and an emotional connection.

LA Opera is no different. We strive to bring opera to everyone, because we know how opera’s unique combination of classical music, storytelling, and visual arts, when simultaneously shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people, can be awe-inspiring.
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What do Burning Man and LA Opera have in common?

What do Burning Man and LA Opera have in common?

Anabel Romero.

Anabel Romero

Anabel Romero

Romero is LA Opera’s Community Engagement Coordinator. She helps oversee the company’s Opera Camp and Cathedral Project programs that share opera with the Greater Los Angeles community.

When she’s not leading campers or community members in opera productions at LA Opera, Romero is a co-founder and co-artistic director of aLma.MaddR, a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary arts collective. The collective’s latest project is a sound installation for an international collaboration called Aluna that will be staged at this year’s Burning Man.

These two gigs aren’t mutually exclusive.

Romero shares that one actually informs the other in the way she makes art. Her community outreach work has helped Romero understand how to use art to connect diverse communities.
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WATCH: Christopher Koelsch Talks Bringing New Audiences To LA Opera

Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

LA Opera President and CEO Christopher Koelsch participated in discussions at the inaugural Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference about how companies can find and keep new audiences for music.

The panel also included Yael Greenberg, Music Consultant, Kickstarter, and was moderated by Graham Parker, President of Universal Music Classics, USA.

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Master Your Opera Skills

Eli Villanueva

Eli Villanueva

On April 21, LA Opera is hosting a master class for undergraduate and graduate students taught by Eli Villanueva, LA Opera’s resident stage director for education and community engagement. Five students from different schools across Los Angeles – chosen from LA Opera’s College Advisory Committee – will sing and Villanueva will coach them on performance and musicality. Students are encouraged to sign-up for the master class to learn the secrets behind compelling storytelling, musicality, and crafting a personalized approach to opera performance.

Master classes are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and on college campuses and offer students the chance to connect with the artists that make the opera magic happen. Students watch these professionals work and see firsthand what it takes to pursue careers in the arts – and in opera, specifically.

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LA Opera Goes on Tour with Puccini Opera Tales

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is not the only place in Los Angeles where you can experience an LA Opera production. You can see our productions at REDCAT, inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and even at Santa Monica Pier. LA Opera has many programs and initiatives that bring opera to various locations in the county and make sure everyone has access to opera.

Puccini Opera Tales

In partnership with the County of Los Angeles Public Library and with generous support provided by former Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe (4th district) and Supervisor Hilda Solis (1st district), LA Opera brings professional opera singers to libraries around Los Angeles to perform musical moments from the most celebrated operas for families. Next month’s Puccini Opera Tales has the singers recounting tales from The Girl of the Golden West, Gianni Schicchi, and Turandot, as told by Giacomo Puccini himself.

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Zanaida Robles Inspires Students Through Opera

Zanaida Robles working with students during Opera Camp (2016)

Zanaida Robles working with students during Opera Camp (2016); Photo: Gennia Cui

She fell in love with music at the age of seven. Now, Zanaida Robles is an established singer, conductor, composer, and music instructor. As an LA Opera teaching artist, she’s bringing her experience and love for the music to work by inspiring the next generation of opera lovers.

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GIVING TUESDAY: MY OPERA EXPERIENCE

 

Giving Tuesday: My Opera Experience

The following is a personal story from Clemence Yi, an 8th grade student, who has participated in LA Opera’s education programs. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to fund programs that introduce students like Clemence to opera and ensure the art form thrives for generations to come.

Help make programs like these possible. Visit LAOpera.org/Donate

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LA Opera Performs Operas…In Secondary Schools

Secondary-In-School Opera

Secondary-In-School Opera

Teens and opera – there’s a connection there. You might think that teenagers in Los Angeles would never think about it or avoid it, assuming it’s old fashioned and boring. But, LA Opera is challenging that narrative by bringing opera directly to Los Angeles’ secondary school students.

Every year LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement’s program, Secondary In-School Opera (SISO), offers an original opera specifically commissioned for middle and high school students. On as many as 10 campuses across all five Los Angeles districts, students work together as an ensemble to build critical music and performance skills, under the direction of professional teaching artists from LA Opera. During one class period a week, for ten weeks each fall they put together an opera. On performance day a truck rolls up to the campus with sets, costumes, technical equipment, and more. Students are joined by several professional opera singers and orchestra members for their final dress rehearsal and a stirring performance for their peers, parents and special invited guests.

If bringing this art form to students was all SISO offered, it would be amazing.

But wait, there’s more!

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Who Networks at the Opera? College Students.

Member of the 15/16 season College Advisory Committee

Member of the 15/16 season College Advisory Committee

LA Opera has a robust array of programs that get kids, teens, and young adults excited about opera. Several of these programs – Operawise, Opera Prep – bring students to the opera to meet with the company’s talented arts professionals. While these programs offer students the ability to network with people in the arts community, another program – the College Advisory Committee – takes networking to the next level. It offers students the opportunity to gain leadership skills while they help promote a major arts institution.

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