Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto has been a staple in the standard operatic repertoire since its 1851 premiere, but its road to the stage was anything but smooth. Before you head to LA Opera’s production of Rigoletto on May 12, here are five things you may not already know about Verdi’s artistic process in writing this tour de force!

Rigoletto" returns to LA Opera in the Mark Lamos staging previously presented in Los Angeles in 2010. (Photo: Robert Millard)

Rigoletto returns to LA Opera in the Mark Lamos staging previously presented in Los Angeles in 2010. (Photo: Robert Millard)

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In a few short weeks, members of the Zarzuela Project will take the stage and sing their hearts out at the El Pueblo Historic Monument, their voices echoing down historic Olvera Street. But how did this group come together in the first place? And what is the Zarzuela Project?

LA Opera singers perform in Education and Community Engagement's The Zarzuela Project

Members of the Zarzuela Project, with lead teaching artist and director Melodee Fernandez (center, in red), performing at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. (Photo Credit: Jennifer Babcock)

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Vengeance. Betrayal. Love. And mercy. These are all ingredients that make for a tantalizing storyline. Opera is known to possess all of these exciting qualities, not to mention impeccable music that matches the fervor of the drama. Mozart’s The Clemency of Titus is no exception  since it’s 1791 premiere in Prague, the opera has since been staged all over the world at nearly all of the top opera houses. It’s not hard to see why this exciting production deals with how far one person is willing to go for power. And that’s what attracted Arya Roshanian, Content Specialist at LA Opera, to it in the first place.

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Musician and teacher Ruthie Buell has attended performances at LA Opera for several years. She recently became a season subscriber and shares her love of opera with her friends. She also discovered that her chess teacher also adores opera, who now frequently joins her for productions.  She has loved her experiences at LA Opera, describing opera as “so different and wonderful.”

Ruthie Buell

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Audra McDonald is an artist that transcends all genres. From the stage to television to the movie screen, there isn’t much she hasn’t already done. And with an Emmy Award, two Grammy Awards and a record-setting six Tony Awards, it’s safe to say she’s already established herself as an icon.

Broadway legend Audra McDonald

Broadway legend Audra McDonald

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Although mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven has only been a member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program for a year, she’s already made her company debut as the  Vanderdendur in Candide. As the treacherous ship captain who double crosses Candide, she chewed up the stage. Later this month, she appears with Artist in Residence Matthew Aucoin and the other Domingo-Colburn-Stein YAPs on-tour in “Verdi: Bel Canto and Beyond.”

Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Taylor Raven (center) as the Venderdendur in LA Opera's 2018 production of Candide (Photo: Ken Howard)

Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Taylor Raven (center) as the Vanderdendur in LA Opera’s 2018 production of Candide (Photo: Ken Howard)

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Three Southern California college students were selected as the winners of LA Opera’s Rigoletto art contest.

Thanks to the generous support of GRoW @ Annenberg, a philanthropic initiative of the Annenberg Foundation, local college students were invited to create original artwork inspired by the company’s upcoming production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, which opens on May 12. Students from 18 different southern California colleges submitted a total of 53 entries in a competition to see their artwork appear on the Rigoletto program cover and displayed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The winning submissions of the 2018 LA Opera Poster Contest (From left: Benjamin Macias, First Place; Faith Angelie Dela Cruz, Second Place; Sean Devine Robinson, Third Place)

The winning submissions of the 2018 LA Opera Art Contest (From left: Benjamin Macias, first place; Faith Angelie Dela Cruz, second place; Sean Devine Robinson, third place)

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Fifty plus children are lined up onstage, holding hands and singing a victory march at the end of the children’s opera Brundibár as part of LA Opera’s Opera Camp. At the center, holding hands and singing with the same energy as the children, is Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger. Before her passing last month, she traveled around the world to attend nearly every performance of Brundibár. Her story has been an inspiration and a driving force behind Opera Camp.

Ela Weissberger onstage with Opera Camp students in 2013

Ela Weissberger onstage with Opera Camp participants in 2013.

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One of the aspects that make LA Opera productions so grand is the hardworking staff at our costume shop. Located between the Fashion District and Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, LA Opera’s Costume Shop not only houses pieces from our current productions, but also contains archived garments from shows throughout our 32-year history.

Mark Lamos’ opulent production of Verdi’s Rigoletto contains intricate and vividly colored costumes designed by Constance Hoffman. In anticipation for LA Opera’s upcoming production of this Verdi masterpiece, here is an exclusive look at what our costumers are working on as we prepare to open on May 12!

The titular character's costume pieces from LA Opera's upcoming production of Verdi's Rigoletto (Photo: Arya Roshanian/LA Opera)

The titular character’s jester costume from LA Opera’s upcoming production of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Photo: Arya Roshanian/LA Opera)

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LA Opera is no stranger to the impassioned operas of Giuseppe Verdi. In the last six seasons alone, the company has staged five operas written by the Italian composer, from popular favorites including La Traviata, Falstaff and Macbeth, to lesser-known works like The Two Foscari and Nabucco.

Another classic – Rigoletto – returns to the stage on May 12. Here are five things you may not know about LA Opera’s upcoming production of Rigoletto!

George Gagnidze as the title character in Rigoletto (2010); Photo: Robert Millard

George Gagnidze as the title character in Rigoletto (2010) (Photo: Robert Millard)

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LA Opera has a long history of presenting new and unfamiliar contemporary opera on its stage. It is within the company’s mission to “produce world-class opera that preserves, promotes, and advances the art form while embodying the diversity, pioneering spirit, and artistic sensibility unique to Los Angeles”. Under the umbrella of the Contemporary Opera Initiative is Off Grand, a series of performances that take place in venues beyond the mainstage with a focus on experimental chamber work.

Thumbprint (2017); Photo: Larry Ho

LA Opera Off Grand and Beth Morrison Project’s production of Thumbprint (2017) (Photo: Larry Ho)

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Modern and contemporary work is not new to LA Opera audiences. Since its inception, the new and innovative have been an integral part of LA Opera’s history.

The New Yorker‘s Alex Ross recently said of LA Opera, “No American company of LA Opera’s size…is more committed to new and unusual work.”

Persona (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

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As a non-profit dedicated to the greater good, LA Opera relies on the generous contributions of our donors to produce world-class opera.

When you make a charitable donation to LA Opera, you become a member of the Friends of LA Opera. Members enjoy exclusive benefits that help make their opera-going experience that much more memorable.

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Ever wondered how children get the “opera bug”? For 10 year-old Jesse McBride, it all started with a visit to his school by LA Opera. In 2017, LA Opera brought their Elementary In-School Opera program to Rockdale Elementary, where Jesse attended 4th grade. For 5 weeks, he and his classmates worked to learn their roles as the chorus in The Legend of Cannery Row, culminating in a performance for their fellow students and families.

Photo: Taso Papadakis

Photo: Taso Papadakis

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Timed to coincide with LA Opera’s production of Verdi’s classic Rigoletto, this concert program focuses on the emergence of Verdi, Italy’s quintessential composer, out of the bel canto greats that preceded him. This concert features LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artists, with music and program arranged by LA Opera Artist-In-Residence Matthew Aucoin.

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John Neumeier’s haunting new production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice has been been called “exquisite” (LA Times) and “an achingly beautiful dream of a show” (Chicago Tribune). But what does the public think? Check out what audiences are saying about LA Opera’s Orpheus and Eurydice!

Dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, in LA Opera's 2018 production of "Orpheus and Eurydice." (Photo: Ken Howard)

Dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, in LA Opera’s 2018 production of Orpheus and Eurydice. (Photo: Ken Howard)

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sing Carmen? LA Opera is presenting a free concert called Great Opera Choruses on Saturday, April 28th, where you can do just that!

Great Opera Choruses (2014); Photo: Jennifer Babcock

Grant Gershon conducting the audience at Great Opera Choruses (2014); Photo: Jennifer Babcock

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Stephen Fry — English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, and film director — will join Maestro James Conlon for a conversation about the Orpheus & Eurydice myth throughout literature and music.

The conversation is free to anyone who attends the matinee performance on Sunday, March 25 and will take place directly after the performance.

If you need tickets for the performance, click here.

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On Friday, March 16, over 400 members of the Los Angeles community will come together to perform Jonah and the Whale.  The production will feature professional opera singers alongside community performers of all ages and experience levels.

The Community Opera provides an opportunity for people from all over Los Angeles to come together and create art. But it also provides an opportunity for families to get to know each other. And carve out a space to learn about themselves together.


Families at rehearsal for Jonah and the Whale

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LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.