PLÁCIDO DOMINGO ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD GENERAL DIRECTOR

JAMES CONLON ELI AND EDYTHE BROAD GENERAL DIRECTOR

CHRISTOPHER KOELSCH PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Archive

Soprano Nino Machaidze is no stranger to LA Opera. With six productions already under her belt, she considers the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as her “second home.” This Saturday, Machaidze returns to LA Opera to sing Leïla in Bizet’s seldom-performed The Pearl Fishers (Les pêcheurs de perles) under the baton of Maestro Plácido Domingo, alongside tenor Javier Camarena and baritone Alfredo Daza.

Nino Machaidze as Leila in LA Opera’s 2017 production of “The Pearl Fishers” (photo: Ken Howard)

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It is sometimes said among theatergoers that a bad final dress makes for a great opening night. If this is true, does less-than-perfect inaugural performance indicate success for the company as a whole?

When LA Opera opened the 1986/87 season with its first performance of Verdi’s Otello on October 7, 1986, nervous excitement and anticipation clung in the air—and apparently on the curtain as well. As the lights dimmed and conductor Lawrence Foster took his place at the podium, the curtain began to rise, only to malfunction and stick at its halfway point. The show went on and the curtain finally rose upward an instant later. Though many in the audience or behind the scenes must have been shocked, this proved to be only a small glitch in the overall evening. LA Opera has certainly clung to a standard of excellence in the 31 years since then. We’ve experienced ups and downs, but what has remained most constant is Plácido Domingo’s invaluable involvement with the company.

September 1, 2002; Los Angeles, California: USA
Los Angeles Opera
‘The Girl of the Golden West’ Dress Rehearsal
Copyright 2002 Robert Millard/LA Opera
www.MillardPhotos.com

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LA Opera has several education and community programs offering teachers and students, offering them a taste of the many careers students can pursue in the future. Opera Prep is one of those programs. It offers teachers the opportunity to bring their students to the opera, as well as introduce them to some of the most talented professionals in the arts world. … Continue reading

A scene from Washington National Opera's Nabucco (2012); Photo: Scott Suchman

A scene from Washington National Opera’s Nabucco (2012); Photo: Scott Suchman

Giuseppe Verdi regarded Nabucco, his third work to reach the stage, as the catalyst that set the rest of his career in motion.

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Martinez, currently starring in Carmen, worked with four singers from University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music on Friday afternoon.

An operatic diva is constantly on the go. From rehearsals to coachings to performances, it  can be difficult to balance a professional life with the personal.  Though it is certainly a skill one can stabilize, it’s important not to burn out or to wear all hats at the same time. That’s the message soprano Ana Maria Martinez conveyed to a group of university students on Friday afternoon.

Ana Maria Martinez works with soprano Bianca Orsi and pianist Sky Haneul Lee

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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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  Opera under the stars Yes, it’s fall, but only in Los Angeles can you take advantage of the Southern California weather, grab a blanket and a picnic and experience opera under the stars. This Saturday, you can do just that … Continue reading

Susan Graham (center) with LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists (from left: Taylor Raven, Joshua Wheeker, Juan Carlos Heredia, Carlos Enrique Santelli, Theo Hoffmann, Milena Gligic, Aurelia Andrews, Brian Michael Moore, Liv Redpath, Elizabeth Zharoff, and Michelle Siemens)

Susan Graham (center) with LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists (from left: Taylor Raven, Joshua Wheeker, Juan Carlos Heredia, Carlos Enrique Santelli, Theo Hoffman, Milena Gligic, Aurelia Andrews, Brian Michael Moore, Liv Redpath, Elizabeth Zharoff, and Michelle Siemens)

Grammy Award-winner Susan Graham is a legend.

For decades, the mezzo-soprano has been one of opera’s greatest stars. She’s shared her voice with audiences worldwide and mastered an astonishing range of repertoire from classics like the title character in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea (unforgettable at LA Opera in 2006) to Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (a role written for her). This season, she adds another great role to her expanding resume: Artistic Advisor to LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein young artists.
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Members of Pittance Chamber Music

Members of Pittance Chamber Music

This Saturday afternoon, Pittance Chamber Music returns!

Pittance is comprised of LA Opera Orchestra Principals and for this concert, in particular, Steven Becknell and Stuart Clark are performing chamber works featuring their instruments.

The concert will also feature Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists Elizabeth Zharoff and Milena Gligic.
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Amanda Woodbury

Amanda Woodbury

Since “graduating” from our Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program in 2014, soprano Amanda Woodbury has become one of opera’s rising stars. She’s sung Musetta in La bohème here at LA Opera, Konstanze in The Abduction from the Seraglio at Dayton Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, and multiple roles at the Metropolitan Opera, including a star turn as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette and Leïla in The Pearl Fishers. Now, Woodbury returns to sing Micaëla in Carmen, the role with which she made her professional here in 2013.

Before our last orchestra tech, we caught up with Woodbury to discuss how she fell into opera and how her performance of Micaëla has evolved.
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The peerless stage director Sir Peter Hall (November 22, 1930 – September 11, 2017) was the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a former director of the National Theatre in London, and had a thriving career in the world’s greatest … Continue reading

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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Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

Olivia Tsui; Photo: Gary Eisenberg

A proud member of the first violin section in Los Angeles Opera Orchestra for a quarter century, Olivia Tsui has been successfully pursuing her career ever since completing her violin studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Her westward journey began in 1986, when Olivia arrived in the U.S. to continue her studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, followed by USC where she studied under Alice Schönfeld. Quickly becoming active in the Los Angeles music scene, she joined the LA Opera (LAO) Orchestra in 1992, followed by appearances with other local orchestras and chamber groups.
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On September 9, we open the 17/18 season with Carmen. If you’ve been following along on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, you’ve seen some of our behind-the-scenes fun: rehearsals, set building, and even flamenco dancing. As we wrap up rehearsals this … Continue reading

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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Rehearsals for our 17/18 season opening production of Carmen are in full swing.

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

Dancers rehearsing for the upcoming production of Carmen (2017)

In addition to hearing wonderful singers perform the opera’s many hits like “Habanera,” we get to watch talented dancers tell Carmen’s story through flamenco.

These dancers are led by Spanish choreographer Nuria Castejón, whose career as a dancer (working for acclaimed Ballet Nacional de España and Compania Antonio Gades) evolved into a long-standing career as an opera, theater, and film choreographer. While Castejón has worked on many plays and as Penelope Cruz’s dance advisor on the Pedro Almodóvar film Volver, opera holds a special place in her heart.

“I adore opera,” says Castejón. “My parents were actors and lyric singers. They did a lot of operetta and zarzuela – sometimes even working with Plácido Domingo’s mother.”

Castejón brings this love of opera to every production she choreographs.

This includes classics like The Barber of Seville, Luisa Fernanda (with which she made her LA Opera debut in 2007) and now to Carmen.
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Picture this: It’s the end of the workday and you’re trudging through Union Station to catch the train or bus home. Out of the corner of your eye, you see someone dancing flamenco. What? Flamenco dancers in the station? Suddenly, your evening commute is transformed into something greater.

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

Carmen (2012); Photo: Robert Millard

On Thursday August 31 (5:00pm), in partnership with Metro we’re bringing opera to Union Station to add some excitement to your evening commute. From 5-7pm, catch Metro Arts: LA Opera at Union Station and experience a taste of Carmen, inspired by our upcoming production. (Hint: That means great singers performing music from Carmen and other performers dancing flamenco.)

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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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In just a few short weeks – on September 9, we’ll kick off our 17/18 season with Carmen. It’s one of the greatest operas – filled with passion and drama and promises to thrill opera-lovers and newbies alike.

Wondering why you should see it? Wonder no more. We’ve rounded up just a few reasons why it’s a must-see.

You know the music.

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Whether it’s in a commercial or your favorite TV show, chances are you’ve probably heard one or all three of those pieces from Carmen. Knowing the tune or words to a song makes every live experience that much better – be it a concert or musical theater. Opera is no different. And since you know these songs – you’ll love this show.

Check out the use of “Habanera” in the Pixar film Up.

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Ana María Martínez as Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Ana María Martínez as the title character in Carmen; Photo: Lynn Lane, courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Twenty Years of Singing in Los Angeles

One of the world’s most acclaimed opera stars, soprano Ana María Martínez first graced the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage in 1997 singing Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème. This was not long after she took a top prize in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition. Since then, she has sung five roles in six LA Opera productions—Violetta in La Traviata, Mimi (in two different seasons), Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Nedda in Pagliacci, and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly. In September, she will mark her 20th anniversary in L.A. by making another LA Opera role debut as the fiery Carmen in Bizet’s eponymous opera.
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