Tag Archives: Pagliacci

Seven Opera-Themed Halloween Costumes for 2017

This Halloween, don’t settle for a costume that’s stale or subpar. Using LA Opera as your inspiration, find the perfect get-up that’ll both wow the crowd and allow you to stand out!

La Belle et La Bete

La Belle et La Bête

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7 LA Opera Stage Costumes You Could Totally Wear To Comic-Con

Are you heading down to San Diego for Comic-Con and looking for something to wear? Here’s a list of opera costumes that will leave you Comic-Con ready.

1. This costume from Grendel looks straight out of Game of Thrones.

Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth in Grendel (2006)

Jay Hunter Morris as Unferth in Grendel (2006)

2. Armored soldiers from Aida — who’s to say these aren’t right out of Game of Thrones or Outlander?

Aida (2005); Photo: Robert Millard

Aida (2005); Photo: Robert Millard

3. Any of the Pagliacci clowns — whether you’re dressing as a riff on the Joker or Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, or a classic homage to Killer Klowns From Outer Space everyone (meaning no one) loves a creepy clown.

Georgie Gagnidze as Tonio in Pagliacci (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Georgie Gagnidze as Tonio in Pagliacci (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

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Top Gear: Opera Edition

LA Opera uses some of the most intriguing vehicles in its productions. From trucks and cars to modes of transportation only imaginable in the arts world, prop vehicles help tell grand opera stories. They are even sometimes rare and built entirely from scratch or refurbished by our technical crew to serve the needs of a production. Take a look at the vehicles we “drive” in our operas in the roundup below.


Peugeot Before and After; Photo: Studio Sereno

Peugeot Before and After; Photo: Studio Sereno

When the technical department was tasked with sourcing an 1890 Peugeot Type 2 (one of the earliest French motorized vehicles) for La Bohème, they realized how difficult this would be. There were none of these Peugeots anywhere in America, not even in museums. Working from only an 11”x17” photocopied image, a team at Studio Sereno built a fully battery-powered replica of the original model. This vehicle will be seen live when La Bohème opens May 14.


Nino Machaidze as Violetta, making a grand entrance at her own party in Verdi's La Traviata (2014); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Nino Machaidze as Violetta, making a grand entrance at her own party in  La Traviata (2014); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

Our Roaring Twenties-set production of Verdi’s La Traviata features a 1929 Rolls Royce sourced from a private owner. Director Marta Domingo saw a photograph of the elegant car in 2006 and loved it so much, she made it a starring prop in her production. (What better way for glamorous party girl Violetta to arrive than in this stylish vehicle?)


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#WordWednesday: Supernumerary


SUPERNUMERARY (20 Scrabble points) – Latin – A supernumerary is opera’s version of an extra. Supernumeraries have no dialogue and are directed to create a believable scene, when the environment calls for large groups of people. But they’re actors or artists in their own right. What would Gianni Schicchi have been like without the lively corpse played by Momo Casablanca? What would the Pagliacci circus be like without dozens of attentive audience members? Can you imagine the cinematic beauty of Paris in La Boheme without several spirited supernumeraries showcasing the quintessential Parisian “joie de vivre?”

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#LAO30Images: Domingo at LA Opera

Celebrating Plácido Domingo’s 40th Anniversary (2008)

Celebrating Plácido Domingo’s 40th Anniversary (2008)

Today, Plácido Domingo turns 75. The legendary singer has wowed audiences onstage for more than fifty years, with his emotionally connected acting talent and the remarkable timbre of his voice. He’s been described as “the King of Opera,” “a true renaissance man in music” and “the greatest operatic artist of modern times.” Domingo has also dedicated his life to sharing his passion for opera with the world. He does so greatly through his work as LA Opera’s Eli and Edythe Broad General Director. His love of the art form shows every time he’s in town and walks around the offices, greeting employees, before singing in and/or conducting an opera here. Domingo was also instrumental to the founding of LA Opera in 1986. (Check out my first installment of The Staging of an Opera Company to learn more.)

In September of last year, I was busy writing an article about opera in film, when I heard the news that Plácido Domingo had arrived on-site. I had yet to meet the famous opera legend, who was about to grace the stage in Gianni Schicchi and conduct Pagliacci, opening our current season. Wondering when I would get to speak to the General Director (who has helmed the company since 2001), I began to listen to my favorite Domingo tunes, including his spectacular Turiddu in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. In a moment that can only be described as operatic, Maestro Domingo walked into our office right as his voice sounded through my headphones in a duet from Act I, “Turiddu, ascolta!” That’s when I met Plácido Domingo.

A lot of people at LA Opera – and I’m sure around the world – have similarly wonderful Plácido Domingo stories. He’s just that awesome.


To celebrate Maestro Domingo’s birthday, we have dedicated this edition of our #LAO30Images series to him. Check out our #LAO30Images: Domingo at LA Opera Pinterest Board to see all 30 images of Domingo on the LA Opera stage.

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The Staging of an Opera Company: Hemmings’ Victory Lap

In his first ten years (1984 to 1994) as general director of LA Opera, Peter Hemmings had built LA Opera from the ground up into a world-class opera company, known for pioneering productions and adventurous repertoire that brought the best of opera to Los Angeles audiences. In the years leading up to the millennium, Hemmings reaped the benefits of his heroic earlier efforts while pushing the boundaries of the medium. He also continued to nurture relationships with artists at every stage of their careers, prompting many titans of opera (including Maria Ewing, Carol Vaness, Frederica von Stade and Thomas Allen, to mention just a few) to return to Los Angeles numerous times, while simultaneously cultivating future stars such as Rod Gilfry. The conclusion of Hemmings’ tenure at LA Opera (1995 to 2000) was to prove nothing less than a victory lap.

LA Opera’s 1995/96 season opened with a production of Verdi’s Stiffelio, starring Plácido Domingo, Elena Prokina and Vladimir Chernov. Stiffelio was a true novelty, an 1850 work that had disappeared from the world’s opera houses for more than a century. The composer withdrew it from circulation shortly after its premiere, when censors had demanded major last-minute changes to the work’s religious subject matter. Verdi and his librettist subsequently gutted their opera and added new material to transform it into Aroldo. (Premiered in 1857, Aroldo remains one of Verdi’s least performed operas.) Stiffelio was thought lost in its original form until the late 1960s, when a usable copy of the complete score resurfaced in a Naples library.

Hemmings saw potential in a production by Elijah Moshinsky (for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden) that evoked the 19th-century American Midwest. Plácido Domingo headlined the show, singing the title role to great critical acclaim. Los Angeles Times critic Martin Bernheimer wrote that Domingo “brought extraordinary intensity to the plaints of the tortured hero, and extraordinary poignancy to his insecurities.”

Stiffelio set the tone for the rest of the season, which included two new tent pole productions: Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love.

The Flying Dutchman was a new production directed by avant-garde theater director Julie Taymor, whose vision proved massive. The entire action of the show was staged around a deconstructed ship made up of skeletal pieces that rocked like giant seesaws, creating a dreamlike and timeless quality.

Another new production, The Elixir of Love exemplified Hemmings’ knack for taking a fresh look at classic works. Directed by Stephen Lawless, the handsome staging discarded the sugary romance of Donizetti’s comedy for a Chekhovian naturalness. Thomas Allen made a brilliant role debut as the charlatan Dulcamara, and Ramón Vargas, a rising superstar, made his LA Opera debut in the leading role of Nemorino. Elixir became one of LA Opera’s signature productions, revived several times in Los Angeles and travelling to a number of major opera houses around the world.

To open the 1996/97 season, a grandly-scaled Franco Zeffirelli production of Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, updated to the present day, had caught Hemmings’ eye in Rome. Getting the production to the City of Angels proved difficult, however. The set hadn’t been stored properly and was falling apart. In the end, LA Opera’s technical staff had to recreate an all-new version of Zeffirelli’s enormous set from scratch, basing the entire design from an 11”x17” Xeroxed copy of a single production photo. Starring Plácido Domingo as the tormented Canio, one of his greatest roles, along with soprano Verónica Villarroel and an enormous cast of singers, acrobats and supernumeraries—and even a dog and a donkey—Pagliacci became one of LA Opera’s iconic productions, revived in both 2005 and in 2015.

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2015: A Year in Review

It has been a milestone season at LA Opera. During the latter half of our 29th season, we presented some of the most engaging and successful productions in the company’s history: a masterful west coast premiere of The Ghosts of Versailles, an engaging cinematic cross-over opera, Hercules vs. Vampires, and an epic avant-garde opera in Dog Days. Our 30th Anniversary Season has started off with a bang. Plácido Domingo’s 147th role debut as the title character in Gianni Schicchi, double-billed with Pagliacci, a contemporary classic, Moby-Dick, a sold-out run of Song from the Uproar, and a beloved bel canto masterpiece, Norma have all wowed Los Angeles audiences since September. Throughout the year, we’ve also had continued success with various initiatives that promote the arts in the greater Los Angeles Community, including our Cathedral Project and Opera Camp.

Below we’ve gathered a few articles and videos we’ve created throughout the year and additional photos are featured in our 2015: A Year in Review Pinterest gallery.

The Ghosts of Versailles

Take a sneak peek behind-the-scenes at The Ghosts of Versailles set and costumes as well as a preview from the show.




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7 Opera Halloween Costumes

This is the time of year when things get spooky – horrific even! It’s also that time when people scour various pop up Halloween stores in search of the perfect costume. Here at LA Opera, we don’t have your typical witches (Hocus Pocus, anyone?), vampires (Dracula), and ghosts (do you see dead people Sixth Sense style?). While these are all good options, consider taking your costume to an operatic level with these 9 opera Halloween costumes.

The Countess in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades is a force to be reckoned with, dead or alive. With her obsession about keeping the secret of what makes her constantly win at cards, the Countess is more fun and regal than other aristocrats (looking at you, Cleopatra!).

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The cast of The Queen of Spades (2001); Photo: Ken Howard

The Dragon in Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor’s Grendel puts Khaleesi’s brood to shame.

Denyse Graves as The Dragon in Grendel (2006); Photo: Robert Millard

Dressing up as Don Giovanni, the title character in Mozart’s Don Giovanni is guaranteed to charm.

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

Erwin Schrott as the title character in Don Giovanni (2007); Photo: Robert Millard

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10 Great Starter Operas

There are thousands of great operas to experience, but figuring out where to begin can be a little intimidating. However, opera newbies might be surprised to learn that they’re more familiar with opera than they think. Ever seen an episode of Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry? Many television shows, Broadway productions and even films are based on or inspired by some of the most popular operas to ever hit the stage.

Here’s a list of ten operas that would be great for any opera newbie to check out, most of which can be seen at LA Opera this season.

Moby-Dick – It’s a classic read and will be a classic opera performance for any newbie to watch. Sung in English, Moby-Dick is easier to follow musically and newbies will also be wowed by set designer Robert Brill’s creations, which bring the high seas to life on stage. Read more about a unique stage prop called a cyc, and the Moby-Dick ship set here.

La Boheme – For the Broadway junkies out there, this is the opera that sparked the musical Rent. It also served as the inspiration for Moulin Rouge (along with La Traviata) making the plot familiar and easy to follow for first-timers.

Aida – The elaborate costumes and set design give any opera newbie enough incentive to watch this beautiful opera. The story takes place in Egypt and focuses around the enslaved Ethiopian princess, Aida. The large pyramid sets and Egyptian attire, much like Pagliacci, show how much planning and work goes into making one of these shows come to life.

Ana María Martínez as Cio-Cio-San in Santa Fe Opera's Madama Butterfly

Ana María Martínez as Cio-Cio-San in Santa Fe Opera’s Madama Butterfly

Madame ButterflyMadame Butterfly is a romantic tragedy with an easy to follow story line and gorgeous music. The set is simple, beautiful and elegant and is sure to impress anyone who sees.

The Barber of Seville – Opera fan or not, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of The Barber of Seville. With famous tunes (check out this overture) and a few good laughs, it’s sure to be a lively performance and a great show for opera newbies.

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Opera at the Beach: Bringing Music to the Masses

Santa Monica Pier is one of Los Angeles’ largest tourist attractions. Groups of people flock west to experience the beach, ride the ferris wheel, and pose in front of the sign signaling the end of Route 66. This past Saturday, tourists and Angelenos alike came to Santa Monica for one reason: opera.

LA Opera at the Pier Photo by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew ImagingLA Opera hosted its second annual, live HD simulcast called Opera at the Beach on Saturday. This year, an estimated 4,000 people were treated to performances of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. People arrived early to claim their spot in front of the large screen, participate in opera trivia, and listen to music from LA Opera’s upcoming season, including Beth Morrison Projects’ Song from the Uproar and Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick. Guests who purchased tickets to the Wine Terrace, sponsored by Los Angeles magazine enjoyed tasting various wines and meeting the wineries responsible for creating some of the best drinks southern California has to offer.

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Gianni Schicchi Cast Shout Outs – Opera at the Beach


The cast of Gianni Schicchi Says “Hello,’ to Audience Members at Santa Monica Pier

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Pagliacci Sneak Peek


Watch a Sneak Peek of Pagliacci above

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci


Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci make a fabulous pair for this year’s Season Opening. Blending comedy with tragedy from two wonderful composers, these operas have made an impact both at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and at Santa Monica Pier. Have you missed some of the Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci magic? Have no fear! We’ve collected a bunch of articles and videos for you to check out and see why so many Angelenos (and non-Angelenos alike) are flocking to see this double-bill.

Get To Know Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci

All Is Bustling On The Opera Front

Weeks before opening night, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion bustles with preparations for the upcoming opera season. As summer draws to a close, props are unpacked and organized, costume fittings occur, large sets are unloaded, and rehearsals are in full swing for Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci.

A Donkey Named Sue

Making his operatic debut in this month’s upcoming production of Pagliacci is none other than a donkey named Sue (aptly named after the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue”). This tough leading animal arrived this week with his handler in tow, who will be a supernumerary in the show.

Music Monday: Pagliacci Prologue

Pagliacci opens not with a love triangle scene between Canio, Nedda, and Silvio, but instead with a clown. This is Tonio, the fool of Canio’s troupe. He emerges and addresses the audience directly—“Si puo, si puo,” asking for indulgence.

5 Favorite Things From This Week’s Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci Rehearsals

There’s a lot to be said about LA Opera’s opening show, a double bill of Gianni Schicchi and Pagliacci. We’ve been watching rehearsals all week and have compiled a list of a few of our favorite things.

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Schicchi To Pagliacci Changeover


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Gianni Schicchi Sneak Peek


Get a Sneak Peek of the hysterical Gianni Schicchi above

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A View from the Bridge

Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci are rarely – if ever – done together. The most common pairing for Pagliacci is Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, another tragic love triangle of sorts. This season, LA Opera has forgone tradition by staging two gigantic productions together in its season opening double bill. It’s a marriage of comedy and tragedy and a posthumous reconciling for two composers, who fought against each other so fervently, after Puccini premiered La Bohéme (Leoncavallo also completed a version of the Bohéme story).

It’s also a huge undertaking set-wise.

Crew member lowering Pagliacci set platforms

Crew member lowering the Pagliacci set platform

From their view in the house, audience members are not privy to the pure magic that goes on behind the curtain, while they are in the midst of intermission. But with a view from the bridge, it’s possible to see both the production and the set-up.

The bridge is a platform walkway, connecting our second-floor backstage area with lighting equipment. Before you ask, this seat is not open to the public, but it does provide an interesting view of what it takes to stage a sizeable double bill, such as Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Once the curtain falls on the 50-minute Gianni Schicchi, it’s the stage crew’s time to shine. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, Schicchi’s gigantic, 1940s-inspired Florence set is removed and a 1980s-inspired bohemian Pagliacci set takes its place.

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Muppets Opera Love

From Hey Arnold! to The Simpsons, several cartoons have featured opera . Of these, The Muppet Show most notably included several opera references during its run that introduced younger audiences to the art form. Did you know that Miss Piggy wanted to sing opera? We think Miss Piggy would love our Gianni Schicchi/Pagliacci. Can you picture her singing Lauretta’s aria, “O mio babbino caro?”

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

Plácido Domingo as Gianni Schicchi and Andriana Chuchman as Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2015)

In honor of tonight’s The Muppets series premiere on ABC, we have found some “Muppets meet opera” moments we think you’ll enjoy:

Beaker’s Habanera


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Pagliacci: Iconic Productions Day 10

“The first time I did Pagliacci, at the Royal Opera House in London, I did it as it had normally been done, turn-of-the-century. Also, at the Met, I did it that way. But then in the early ‘80s, I brought it much closer to us. I set it in the same environment, Southern Italy, but in the early 1940s. That’s the version that Plácido [Domingo] and Teresa Stratas did around the world and also on video and laser disc. But then I thought, why stop in the middle of the road? Let’s do it today.” – Director Franco Zeffirelli on staging his Pagliacci in the present day (then 1996)

Pagliacci, 1996-1997

Plácido Domingo as Canio in Pagliacci (1996); Photo Credit: Ken Howard

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Marie Rogers: A Teacher For All Seasons

Marie Rogers (center) with Rob Crites (left) and her student Isaiah Morgan (right)

Marie Rogers (center) with Rob Crites (left) and her student Isaiah Morgan (right)

In 1986, Marie Rogers was an opera enthusiast excited that Los Angeles was finally getting its own resident opera company. She taught in LA’s public school system at the time and couldn’t wait to spend a night at the opera watching Plácido Domingo in Otello. But she couldn’t find anyone to go with her.

So Marie went alone – and loved every second of it. The show made a great impression on her and she wanted to be a part of it. Act I had a children’s chorus and Marie thought to herself, “There has to be a studio teacher for those kids.”

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#WordWednesday: Verismo

Pagliacci Verismo_FINALVERISMO (22 Scrabble points) – Italian – Verismo literally means “realism” or “truth.” It is a genre of opera made famous by Puccini, Mascagni, and Leoncavallo in the late 19th century – think cinema’s Italian neo-realism movement, but for opera.

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