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.
Unlike European opera houses that operate year-round, such as Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, LA Opera takes a hiatus in the summer in between opera seasons. With the artists traveling all over the world during this time, it can get lonely. But this also means we get a head start in the arduous planning for 2018/19 season.
So what exactly are we up to? Over the next few weeks, we’re asking members of different departments to talk about their summer plans at LA Opera.
“I started ‘Word Wednesday’ on LA Opera’s Instagram stories. I take words commonly associated with opera and the art form and let viewers know what it means and give an example,” Broadnax said. “I’m also arranging Instagram takeovers for the kids participating in opera camp, and planning ‘Fact Fridays’ for Instagram and Twitter.”
Though the principal artists are taking time to travel and sing domestically and internationally, the Education and Community Engagement department are working with kids all over Los Angeles County for Opera Camp. The three-week intensive is for students ages 9-17 who rehearse, perform and participate in a variety of movement and technical workshops. Its goals, besides giving children performance experience and the tools they need to perform, include connecting campers to the past as well as social issues, and bringing context to headlines and showing them their impact on the world. This year, the program culminates with performances of two operas — The White Bird of Poston by Eli Villanueva and The Prospector by Lee Holdridge.
Anabel Romero, Community Engagement Coordinator, gave us a sense of what it takes to organize Opera Camp, from the moment auditions are posted all the way through the final performance.
“As the coordinator of Opera Camp, I assemble all of our campers. I organize it the moment we hold auditions, to selecting the students, to when it actually starts,” said Romero. “We coordinate with teaching artists and set up schedules, and also decide which partner organization we’d like to collaborate with in our professional developments programs.”
Nathan Rifenburg, Education Manager, discussed the new summer professional developments that are in store for LA Opera’s Teaching Artists this summer.
“Every year we have training for teaching artists, but have added a summer professional development that is a collaborative effort with Heidi Duckler Dance Theater,” Rifenburg said. “We’re bringing them on board for our Secondary In-School Opera when the school years starts, so the teaching artists will learn all about movement.”
Rifenburg and Romero also added that for the first time, there will be a professional development in collaboration with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
“Everything is constantly evolving and we want our teaching artists to be more aware of the social issues that are happening around us,” Romero said. “We want to make sure our teaching artists are up-to-date in terms of vocabulary, and are knowledgeable about the dynamics and rhetoric of gender-identity.”
Jennifer Babcock, Associate Director of Education and Community Programs, noted that this is also a time to prepare for next season’s programs.
“A lot of what we do during the summer is prepping for the season,” Babcock stated. “Schools start back in August and it’s important that we get everything lined up before then. We’re making study guides, we’re working on schedules, contracting artists, putting teams together for our different programs and more.”
Want to know what else we’re planning? Stay tuned for more posts about what the LA Opera team is working on before the season opens with Verdi’s Don Carlo on Saturday, Sept. 22!LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.