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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!
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.
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!
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.
Myth and Recovery, Music and Rebellion: A Note from Music Director James Conlon on Orpheus and Eurydice
“But Lot’s wife looked back as she lingered behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
Genesis 19:17, Luke 17:32
“Then he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He saw her in the dim light, and he held out his arms to clasp her; but on the instant she was gone.
The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice (from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology)
The act of looking back, with its rewards and perils, reveals, conceals, mystifies and clarifies. It can be a source of inspiration or of loss and regret. It is an inducement to creativity or a temptation to indulge our regressive tendencies.
In September, LA Opera opens its 2018-19 season! The exciting lineup includes both world and company premieres, as well as works regularly seen on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Can’t wait until then? Here are five highlights to look forward to next fall!
One of the greatest works in Western literature, Voltaire’s 1759 satirical novel Candide, or Optimism follows its eponymous hero on a whirlwind tour throughout much of the known world. Bernstein’s 1956 musicalization of the novel followed almost as many twists and turns on its journey from Broadway to the opera house.
On Jan. 27, we resume our 2017-18 season with Bernstein’s masterpiece. Before you go, here is everything you need to know about Candide.
On Jan. 27, LA Opera returns for the second half of its 2017-18 season with Leonard Bernstein’s classic operetta Candide. With the premiere only weeks away, here are five highlights to look forward to in the lavish production.
What can be said about composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein that hasn’t already been said before? As one of the most prolific figures of the 20th century, the virtuoso has been deemed as “one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history” by The New York Times. However, for those deeply familiar with his life and work, he’s affectionately known simply as “Lenny.”
On Nov. 19, we wrapped up our last production of the year with Verdi’s Nabucco. Though we’ll be taking a brief hiatus from the stage until the new year, there is still much to be excited about in the second half of our season! With both company premieres and established revivals underway, there is something for everyone — especially if you have folks to shop for.
Can’t wait until January to get your opera fix? We can’t either. Here are five reasons to look forward to the rest of our season!
On Nov. 17, LA Opera honors Plácido Domingo 50th Anniversary in Los Angeles with a special concert conducted by Maestro James Conlon. The performance will feature appearances from veterans of both the operatic stage and the big screen, with our very own LA Opera Orchestra in the pit.
How do movies and opera relate? To some, a conclusive answer may not be obvious — each art differs exponentially in many aspects. But when you take away the blatant differences, such as the respective emphases on music and the spoken word, there are commonalities that bring the two together. What opera and film share, along with most all performing arts, is the attention to human emotion.
Interested in going out this Halloween weekend but can’t figure out what to do? Join us at the Theatre at ACE Hotel for Cocteau/Glass’ La Belle et la Bête! Our Saturday and Tuesday shows include after-parties at the venue directly following the performance, including a special Costume Contest on the 31st.
Before you go, check out composer Philip Glass’ program notes on re-scoring the Cocteau classic, his relationship with the piece and more.
On October 7, Angelenos experienced a rare treat. We opened George Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers – lesser known than his famous Carmen, but no less stunning for both opera aficionados and newbies. Critics have already been raving about the production, calling it “stunning” (LA Times), “enthralling” (Broadway World) and “eye-dazzling” (LA Daily News).
If the critics’ response isn’t enough, here’s a list of more reasons why The Pearl Fishers is a must-see this fall:
Giuseppe Verdi regarded Nabucco, his third work to reach the stage, as the catalyst that set the rest of his career in motion.
Georges Bizet’s last opera has struck deeply into the soul of Western Civilization.
Its music is universally loved and its meaning constantly analyzed, debated and reinterpreted. As a protagonist, Carmen is unique. Contrary to many mythological characters who served as operatic subjects, she transcended her stage existence and then evolved into an archetype, a popular and modern myth. Unlike Don Juan, Faust and numerous Greek, Roman and Nordic mythological characters adapted for the opera stage, Carmen had little prehistory. But like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, her obvious male counterpart, she became immortal thanks to the genius of a composer. The protagonist of a short story by Prosper Mérimée, she was perfectly realized the moment Bizet set her to music.
Who is Carmen and what does she represent?
Ask a dozen opera lovers, and there will be a dozen answers. Evil temptress, femme fatale, erotic demon, 19th-century Eve for some; victim of racism, gender inequality and social injustice, symbol of emancipation and feminine empowerment for others.
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LA Opera’s 2017/2018 season opens September 9
Our 2016/17 season may have come to an end, but 2017/18 is just around the corner. Next season has something for everyone from the classic gems to the avant-garde. Get to know the season below and don’t forget to buy your tickets early for the best seats.
CARMEN (September 9-October 1)
On September 9, we open with Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Ana María Martínez stars as opera’s most famous femme fatale. Nobody—not even a lover—can tame Carmen, who bursts into life onstage with an intoxicating whirl of thrilling choreography, vivid orchestrations and heart-stopping drama. Bizet’s unforgettable score is an endless parade of one great melody after the other, from the languid allure of Carmen’s sensual songs to the macho boasts of the dashing bullfighter.
THE PEARL FISHERS (October 7-28)
A beautifully detailed staging, complete with stunning special effects, brings a rare and exotic story to life. Soprano Nino Machaidze, one of LA Opera’s favorite leading ladies, returns as a veiled priestess with a hidden past, pursued by two lifelong friends and romantic rivals. The complicated triangle pushes forbidden love into a final struggle for life and death, until a nearly forgotten secret saves the day. Internationally acclaimed tenor Javier Camarena makes his company debut as Nadir.
The ravishing score, an early treasure by the composer of Carmen, features a rapturous duet for the two rivals that has become one of opera’s all-time greatest hits.
Mukhtar Mai’s smile lights a room. She’s recently arrived in Los Angeles and when we speak she chats about her eagerness to see Thumbprint – the opera her life inspired – and meet with friend Freida Pinto who lives in the area.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Mukhtar Mai, she’s an incredible woman.
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The music of Thumbprint is infused with the sounds of South Asia, melding classical Hindustani music with western classical music.
Kamala Sankaram, who is both the piece’s composer and plays the leading role of Mukhtar Mai, has woven traditional instruments – piano, flute, violins, drums, and what you’d expect in a band – with some that are not often seen in opera.
The sounds that form the musical language of Thumbprint and provide its regional nuances come from the traditional instruments of South Asia.
Harmonium – like an accordion, the harmonium is a small pump organ.
NEWS: We’re thrilled and honored that Mukhtar Mai – whose historic bravery inspired “Thumbprint” – is traveling from Pakistan to witness her story told and join us for the talkbacks after each performance. If you don’t have a ticket yet, this is your chance to be part of this powerful moment.
After a brutal attack meant to destroy her, Mukhtar Mai became the first woman in Pakistan to bring her rapists to justice. Since then, Mai has become an international icon for women’s rights. She used the reparations money she received from the government to build schools for girls and continues to support women through her Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization. Mai’s story resonates beyond borders in its implicit belief that even in the darkest times, one person, one voice, through a single act of courage, can change the lives of thousands.