The Generations of Opera: Fostering a New Age of Opera Lovers

With Hollywood as LA Opera’s backyard, there is always something to do. In a place so saturated with both art and entertainment, you could live in the city for a lifetime and always find a new adventure. For children and adults, Los Angeles is a wonderland of entertainment opportunities, and world-class opera is one of them. At LA Opera, parents can expose their kids to unforgettable mainstage productions, as well as programs created especially for children.

Pagliacci (2015); Photo: Craig T. Mathew

The cast of Pagliacci (2015)

Seeing yourself in our shows

Children have been part of our productions from the beginning. Franco Zeffirelli’s new production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was the talk of the town when it debuted in 1996 at LA Opera, with Plácido Domingo starring in one of his signature roles in a monumental staging. While Pagliacci might not be the first opera you think of to bring a child to, there were kids in that audience. To them, what was most intriguing about this production was the large children’s chorus. These kids on the stage, not much older than seven, were part of something so fulfilling and extravagant. Pagliacci combined so many mediums of art: music, drama, dance and gymnastics. If you were lucky enough to have “snuck” into the show as a child, you might have seen yourself in it and thought, “I could do that.”

Every performance and every audience may be different, but no matter your age, you’ll always find your counterpart, someone just like you, enjoying the show. The house is filled with people of all ages and generations. Mothers and daughters, sons and fathers. Season ticket holders taking their grandchildren for their first operas. Sisters in their mid-twenties spending a girls’ night out. Aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. You don’t always have to call the babysitter when you want to go to the opera. The arts aren’t ageist―everyone is welcome.

Over the years, LA Opera has made great strides to foster the growing generation of operaphiles. With recent productions such as The Magic Flute (2016) and Cinderella (La Cenerentola) (2013) tailor-made for all ages, children have the opportunity to see their favorite fairy tales come to life, and parents are able to help make those dreams come true. The optimism of this season’s Candide is another opportunity to introduce opera to the next generation of fans. Opera is personal, but it can just as easily be a shared experience.

Introducing opera to kids of all ages

With this in mind, LA Opera is eager to expand this art form beyond the stage. Several programs coordinated with the Education and Community Engagement Department offer events specifically created for families to experience together. Each season, two operas — earlier this season, Carmen and up next, Candide— have a special performance designated as a Domingo Family Day, providing half-priced tickets to children and teens and offering a myriad of family-friendly activities, such as program signings with the cast, and arts and crafts tables.

Kids enjoying Saturday Mornings at the Opera

Kids enjoying Saturday Mornings at the Opera

These programs aren’t limited to mainstage performances. LA Opera has also created Saturday Mornings at the Opera, with hour-long, interactive performances for both children and parents to enjoy together. With the idea that “you’re never too young to enjoy opera,” LA Opera wants to make opera lovers out of its youngest patrons. However, that isn’t its sole objective―the goal is to turn a trip to the opera into a cherished memory the entire family can share.

There’s something for everyone – in unexpected places

While you’re never too young, you’re also never too old to enjoy opera. A special magic is created when multiple generations enjoy performances together. LA Opera encourages grandparents to take their grandchildren, or even vice-versa. These shared experiences inspire treasured memories. And LA Opera strives to make opera available to literally everyone. Four years ago, the company launched Opera at the Beach, an annual live simulcast in high-definition video of the season-opening opera from the stage to a giant screen at the Santa Monica Pier. Two years later, the program expanded to include a second simulcast location, billed as “Opera in the Park,” which takes place in rotating venues throughout Los Angeles County. With free admission to all of these locations, families can spend time together at the opera without breaking the bank.

Plácido Domingo and a group of teachers during Teacherpalooza (2015)

Plácido Domingo and a group of teachers during Teacherpalooza (2015)

Since its inception, LA Opera has been keen on reaching out to all ages. Perhaps all the outreach stems from Plácido Domingo’s own childhood experience. As a child, Domingo grew up in the wings of his parent’s zarzuela troupe, and he has passed that love for music and theater down to his own children and grandchildren. More than anyone else, he knows the power that the arts can have to bring families together. But you don’t need to grow up in the theater to have success in music, or the arts in general. Often misunderstood, opera is not some stuffy cliché only available to the elite. And while there’s nothing like seeing it live, opera is readily available through a vast amount of online services. With just a click of the mouse, an introduction to the world of opera can be yours.

In a city like LA, there are many opportunities to explore and expand one’s horizons. It is imperative to keep the arts alive, as not only an introduction to something bigger or to inspire, but to bring families together as well.

To find out more about our Community Family programs, click here.

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