LA Opera 90012: Inspiring a Love of Opera

Opera is larger than life. It’s full of dramatic stories told through extraordinary music. The stage is populated by fascinating characters brought to life by beautiful voices. While the stage is transformed into a different world, the audience finds themselves transformed as well — their laughter, tears, gasps and applause are a vital part of an opera performance.

LA Opera’s 2006 production of “Hansel and Gretel.” (Photo: Robert Millard)

Each season, middle and high school students are invited to enter an essay contest. The prize for the winners is a free subscription for themselves and a family member to attend four mainstage operas for the season. The program in question, LA Opera 90012 is a program designed to bring this extraordinary experience to families. The program emphasizes that the theater is a place for families to create memories and grow together.

LA Opera 90012 was originally made possible by a gift from the late Fred Rheinstein, who personally understood the power of opera to bring families together. As a child, some of his fondest memories were of attending the opera with his family. He wanted to ensure that other children had this unique opportunity to learn about this art that had brought him so much joy. His legacy lives on through the LA Opera 90012 program.

In addition to the operas, members of the program are invited to a special orientation that welcomes them to the “opera family.” Many have never attended an opera before, so the orientation lets them feel comfortable with “opera etiquette”. Then comes the fun part — getting a sneak peek at the operas they’ll be attending.

After the 2015/16 season orientation, 90012 Ambassador Elisabeth Surman said, “I can’t wait for the season to begin. I already know that my mom and I will be laughing a lot during The Magic Flute and crying by the end of Madame Butterfly. We’re all going to have a great year in LA Opera 90012.”

This season, teens and their parents will be attending Satyagraha, Hansel and Gretel, The Clemency of Titus, and El Gato Montés: The Wildcat. The operas are chosen so that members have an opportunity to experience a wide rang of operas, from contemporary works to oft-performed favorites. This season includes a company premiere with Satyagraha and a popular revival Hansel and Gretel.

Fadia and Dunia Suuck at the closing celebration

Fadia and Dunia Suuck at the closing celebration

Before each performance, 90012 members gather informally to talk about their experience. Lifelong friendships have formed between teens who participate in the program. Marita Bos-Villalobos stated, “There are so many 90012 participant that share my passion for opera and are excited about everything we learn about and experience in 90012! They have become my family.”

Students who have completed the program are often invited back to become 90012 Ambassadors. These students help welcome new members, assist with 90012 events and gain valuable leadership skills. Katie Lee, a former ambassador, said of her experience, “The opportunities I have been given, to gain life experience, are priceless gifts I will take with me— everywhere. As I embark on this college process, the amount of professionalism you have soaked me in has helped me so much in my writing, interviews, and interactions with teachers as well. LA Opera’s mentorship reaches far from the Dorothy Chandler and Music Center campus.”

At the end of the season, members of 90012 are invited to a pre-performance banquet to connect with other members of the program. The celebration allows them to reflect on what they’ve experienced and how that has brought their families closer together. Fadia Suuck, who attended the program with her 16 year old daughter, expressed, “We absolutely loved the 90012 program. It was an experience we will never forget.”

Katie Lee with her family at the closing celebration

Katie Lee, 90012 Ambassador, and her sister Annie, 90012 Participant, with their family

LA Opera 90012 brings families together by giving them the opportunity to experience world class art. Students are invited to become even more involved through our Ambassador program. They are welcomed into our opera family and given the tools and knowledge to inspire a life-long love of the arts. And most importantly, they create lasting memories with their own family and new friends.

Applications for the LA Opera 90012 program will be accepted until September 7, 2018. Click here to learn more.

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