Did You Know?

Summertime at The Opera: What Are We Up To? — Part I

Summer is a peaceful time on the LA Opera stage — but though the stage is quiet, the offices remain abuzz! With the house empty for the next two and a half months, we use this time wisely to prepare for next season’s productions.

A scene from William Friedkin 2004 production of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos at LA Opera

A scene from William Friedkin 2004 production of Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos at LA Opera

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Opera Under the Stars – Get Ready for LA Opera’s Simulcast

Mark Your Calendars. We’re presenting a free, live simulcast of Verdi’s Don Carlo starring Plácido Domingo and conducted by James Conlon, will be broadcast live in high-definition from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to the big screen at El Cariso Community Regional Park in Sylmar, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Opera at the Beach (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

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Love Our Annual Simulcast? Thank LA County.

LA Opera’s simulcast is one of our newest and most expansive programs, sharing the first opera of the season with thousands of Angelenos — in two diverse geographic locations and all at the same time.

Through the generous commitment of Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors, LA Opera will continue its simulcasts on Sept. 22, 2018 with Verdi’s Don Carlo, live at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and with a live broadcast at El Cariso Community Regional Park in Sylmar.

Opera at the Park in Exposition Park (2017)

Opera at the Park in Exposition Park (2017)

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Opera Meets Literature: Usher House/The Canterville Ghost

Opera and literature have long been paired together. The early operas of Monteverdi, Vivaldi and Handel were primarily, if not exclusively, based on tales derived from Greek mythology. As opera expanded outside of the royal court and into the public following the classical period in the mid-18th century, so did the story lines — librettists and composers began finding inspiration outside of mythology, but still within the written word.

On June 22, LA Opera stages the LA premiere of Gordon Getty’s double-bill Usher House and The Canterville Ghost. Labelled quirkily as the “Scare Pair,” both operas take inspiration from 19th century works of literature.

Dominic Armstrong (front) as Edgar Allen Poe, with Keith Phares as Roderick Usher and Jamielyn Duggan as Madeline Usher in "Usher House" (Photo: Steven Pisano / Center for Contemporary Opera)

Dominic Armstrong (front) as Edgar Allen Poe, with Keith Phares as Roderick Usher and Jamielyn Duggan as Madeline Usher in “Usher House” (Photo: Steven Pisano / Center for Contemporary Opera)

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Five Things You May Not Already Know About Scare Pair: Usher House/The Canterville Ghost

LA Opera is just a few days from the Los Angeles premiere of Gordon Getty’s Scare Pair: Usher House/The Canterville Ghost. This Off Grand presentation is the last production of the 2017/18 season. In anticipation for the performances, here are five things you may not already know about the production!

Keith Phares as Roderick Usher and Jamielyn Duggan as Madeline Usher in "Usher House" (photo: Steven Pisano / Center for Contemporary Opera)

Keith Phares as Roderick Usher and Jamielyn Duggan as Madeline Usher in “Usher House” (photo: Steven Pisano / Center for Contemporary Opera)

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The Clemency of Titus: How Mozart Inspired an LA Opera Employee’s Critical Understanding of Opera

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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Five Highlights From Rigoletto To Look Forward To

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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Contemporary Opera’s Future at LA Opera

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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A History of Contemporary Opera in Los Angeles

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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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.

James Conlon, Richard Seaver Music Director of LA Opera (Photo: Robert Millard)

James Conlon, Richard Seaver Music Director of LA Opera (Photo: Robert Millard)

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Five Things You May Not Know About LA Opera’s Orpheus and Eurydice

The French version of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (Orphée et Eurydice) may have premiered in 1774, but John Neumeier’s take on this classical masterpiece takes a myriad of liberties to update the setting. 

On March 10, LA Opera continues its 2017/18 season with Gluck’s heartbreaking opera, in partnership with the Joffrey Ballet. Neumeier’s production has already been hailed as “achingly beautiful” (Chicago Tribune) and “brilliantly reimagined” (Opera News). Not sure of what to expect? Here are a few things you may not already know about LA Opera’s upcoming production of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Scenes from John Neumeier's production of "Orpheus and Eurydice" at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Scenes from John Neumeier’s production of “Orpheus and Eurydice” at Lyric Opera of Chicago (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

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6 Black Opera Singers Who Changed the Game

February is the month of many things; scrambling to find a decent gift for your significant other for Valentine’s Day, praising the heavens for that three-day weekend for Presidents’ Day and — of course — Black History Month. From Jesse Owens’ historic achievements at the 1936 Summer Olympics to Bessie Coleman’s accomplishment of becoming the first Black female pilot in 1922 — achievements by Black individuals throughout American history are abundant.

But what about the opera world? We’ve rounded up six (although there are plenty more!) opera singers who changed the landscape of the art!

Tenor George Shirley and soprano Leontyne Price rehearse for"Così fan tutte" (Photo Rights: RCA Victor Records)

Tenor George Shirley and soprano Leontyne Price rehearse for Così fan tutte (Photo Rights: RCA Victor Records)

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Did You Know? LA Opera Has a Coveted 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator!

Due to its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, LA Opera is recognized as a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator

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Candide: A Note from Music Director James Conlon

“I am thrice homeless, as a native of Bohemia in Austria, as an Austrian among Germans, and as a Jew throughout the world. Everywhere an intruder, never welcomed.”—Gustav Mahler

What does that famous quote have to do with Candide, Voltaire and Leonard Bernstein? This year the world celebrates the Bernstein centenary. For those of us who grew up in New York in the fifties and sixties, he was our inspiration. Looking back at this giant, who seemed to be the embodiment of music—classical, jazz and popular—it is hard to believe that one man could be and do all he was and did: conductor, composer, pianist, lecturer and educator all rolled into one.

Jack Swanson (Candide) in a rehearsal with Music Director James Conlon for LA Opera's 2018 production of "Candide." (Photo: Ken Howard)

Jack Swanson (Candide) in a rehearsal with Music Director James Conlon for LA Opera’s 2018 production of “Candide.” (Photo: Ken Howard)

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Behind the Masterpiece: Everything You Need to Know About Candide

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.

A still from the original 1956 production of Bernstein's Candide. (From left to right: Max Adrian, Louis Edmonds, Barbara Cook and Robert Rounseville).

A still from the original 1956 production of Bernstein’s Candide. (From left to right: Max Adrian, Louis Edmonds, Barbara Cook and Robert Rounseville).

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Roundup: Re-Watch LA Opera’s Pre-Performance Lectures From 2017

Prior to every performance, LA Opera’s acclaimed Music Director Maestro James Conlon and other scholars of note hold an engaging and informative talk about the opera our audience is about to see. Generously sponsored by The Flora L. Thornton Foundation and The Opera League of Los Angeles, these talks are free of charge to those attending the performance and take place in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

As LA Opera looks forward to the new year, here’s a recap of our Pre-Show Talks for the beginning of our 2017-18 season!

LA Opera’s production of ‘Macbeth’ at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. (Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho)

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In-School Opera Teaches Important Lessons Both On and Off the Stage

Opera not only offers transcendence and expands imaginations, but can also educate the public on social issues. LA Opera’s Elementary and Secondary In-School Operas do just that. Students from all over Los Angeles County learned this themselves just a few weeks ago when they performed alongside LA Opera artists in the Secondary In-School Opera (SISO), The White Bird of Poston, composed by Eli Villanueva with libretto by Leslie Stevens. This opera explores themes of service and citizenship, as well as the issues of prejudice, racism and cultural differences.

Students perform in Eli Villanueva’s The White Bird of Poston

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Opera Meets Film: How Persona Moves From Screen To Stage, To The Screen Again

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.

A scene from “Persona.” (Photo: Noah Stern Weber, courtesy of Beth Morrison Projects)

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Hoop Skirts Are The Real Star of Nabucco

On Nov. 2, Verdi’s Nabucco returns to the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with Plácido Domingo in the title role. The vibrant production by director Thaddeus Strassberger pays homage to the opera’s premiere at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 1842, featuring costumes elegantly designed by Mattie Ullrich.

Photo: Ken Howard/LA Opera

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La Belle et la Bête: Notes from Composer Philip Glass

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.

Philip Glass composed a new operatic soundtrack for Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film La Belle et la Bête.

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