Tag Archives: Star Wars

Reid Bruton Talks Opera and Film

Name almost any major Hollywood film in the last decade and Reid Bruton may very well have sung on its soundtrack. From Star Wars to Suicide Squad to Frozen, Bruton’s rich bass voice can be heard in the background of an emotional moment (like the epic moment in Star Wars between Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren) or as a menacing creature-like sound effect.  He can do it all, and that includes opera.  Bruton has been singing with the LA Opera Chorus for almost 20 years, appearing in more than 80 productions with numerous appearances in comprimario roles. We caught up with Bruton before his work as Macbeth’s servant for this season’s opening production, to chat about his varied roles in opera and film.

How long have you been part of the LA Opera chorus?

Il Trovatore (1997)

Reid Bruton – “Il Trovatore” (1997)

Since 1997. My first production was LAO’s first Il Trovatore.

Did you always have a love of opera?

Oh, yes! I was raised in a farming community near Memphis and I used to drive a tractor for my father, which was equiped with a small radio inside. On Saturday mornings, I would plow fields and listen to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio or put in a cassette tape of Leontyne Price or Maria Callas singing. I listened and loved it, but never saw an opera until I went to college where I was a double degree in voice/opera and piano.

Why have you stayed with LA Opera for so long?

Eugene Onegin (2011/2012) with Oksana Dyka

Eugene Onegin (2011/2012) with Oksana Dyka

There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that at LA Opera I have the unique opportunity to work closely with some of the most notable singers in the world today… singing and acting with them very closely. Being on stage with great artists who inspire me and whom I learn from – it’s better than a college degree.  I teach voice privately.  So by getting to work so closely with all of these great singers with different voice types I am able to share, first hand, my experience and observations with my students.

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#LAO30Images: Film Meets Opera

Woody Allen directing the 2008 cast of <em>Gianni Schicchi</em>

Woody Allen directing the 2008 cast of Gianni Schicchi

Like the Force, our opera and film connection is strong. In celebration of tonight’s 88th Academy Awards, we are dedicating our #LAO30Images to showcasing the amazing productions that tie opera and film together. This includes everything from filmmakers, who have directed operas here, to our recent silent film inspired production of The Magic Flute. Los Angeles is a cinematic city and LA Opera – being LA’s resident opera company – has always tapped into the special relationship between the two great art forms: film and opera. Below are a few of our film/opera collaborative productions.

Woody Allen and William Friedkin Take On Il Trittico (2008)

The 2008 season opened with Puccini’s Il Trittico, composed of three operas, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, and Il Tabarro. Oscar-winning film titan, Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, Match Point, Annie Hall) made his opera directing debut with Gianni Schicchi (which recently returned to open our current season) and William Friedkin (The Exorcist) masterfully tackled Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica.

Herbert Ross Stages La Boheme (1993)

“Having worked in many art forms, I find opera is the most challenging of all, because it is a fusion of all the arts.” – Herbert Ross

Herbert Ross (Footloose, Steel Magnolias) directed a production of La Boheme in 1993 that significantly explores the deeper motivations behind Mimi, Musetta and Rodolfo’s actions. The story follows a series of bohemians in Paris (Ross updates the era to 1890s Paris) and centers on the love between Rodolfo and the dying Mimi. In Ross’ vision, Mimi and Musetta have more dimensions than are usually allowed – Musetta is characterized as a woman who demands independence, rather than a shrew, while Mimi is given greater agency and played as if she is not “innocent of experience.” Ross’ iconic 1993 production of Puccini’s La Boheme has been a crowd favorite for over 20 years and returns this June with the final two performances conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (who recently worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens and conducted a Super Bowl 50 Half-Time performance).

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Harpist of a Lifetime

“First and foremost, we are all musicians and unique individuals. I strive to encourage, guide, mentor, and prepare young harpists for success in a rapidly changing world.” – JoAnn Turovsky

A young JoAnn Turovsky and her harp

A young JoAnn Turovsky and her harp

In September, the American Harp Society honored one of its most active members – JoAnn Turovsky – with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Turovsky, who serves as the Principal Harpist in the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra (as well as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Sinfonia Orchestra) has spent a lifetime not only playing an instrument she loves, but also spreading her passion for the harp to students at the University of Southern California‘s Thornton School of Music and the Colburn School of Music.

Turovsky’s love of the harp started early and led to years of study and mastering of the craft. In 1972, she won the American Harp Society’s National Competition and three years later became one of the youngest board members. “Being a participant gave me an interesting perspective as an administer of the competition,” says Turovsky.

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