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Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound

Figaro Unbound:
Culture, Power and Revolution at Play

From February 7 through April 12, 2015, LA Opera will produce three operas inspired by the works of the French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799). Beaumarchais was a man of many talents: a playwright, watchmaker, inventor, musician, diplomat, fugitive, spy, publisher, horticulturalist, arms dealer, satirist, financier and revolutionary (both French and American). His trilogy of Figaro plays—The Barber of Seville (1775), The Marriage of Figaro (1784) and The Guilty Mother (1792)—captured staggering changes in social attitudes of the late 18th century. These plays and their characters have been subsequently adapted into operas (some more successful than others) by Paisiello, Salieri, Massenet and Milhaud to name a few.

LA Opera’s programming of the "Figaro Trilogy"—John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro—within the 2014/15 season will immerse audiences in the world of a character who created a sensation in the years leading up to the French Revolution. The lasting legacy of the free-thinking barber will be explored in Figaro Unbound, a three-month celebration of the revolutionary spirit.

With a variety of programming for all ages, Figaro Unbound will investigate the ongoing relevance of Figaro and the Beaumarchais trilogy. There will be performances of alternate musical adaptations of Figaro’s story and opportunities to examine his lasting influence on American political and cultural life. Figaro Unbound partners include ArcLight Cinemas, the Hammer Museum, Opera UCLA, A Noise Within, LA Theatre Works, FIDM Museum, the Huntington Library, LACMA, the Norton Simon Museum, the Getty Museum, and the Opera League of Los Angeles, among others.

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The Figaro Trilogy

Originally told in three stage comedies by French playwright Beaumarchais, the adventures of Figaro have captivated generations of music lovers. The famous operatic adaptations by Rossini and Mozart of the first two plays—The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro—have long been among the most popular works in the entire repertoire. The final chapter of the story is retold in The Ghosts of Versailles by John Corigliano, who incorporated the major plot elements of the third play, The Guilty Mother, into his opera. LA Opera’s presentation of all three of these operas during the 2014/15 season gives the audience the rare opportunity to see what happens to Figaro, Count Almaviva and Rosina over the course of more than two decades.

As a compliment to Figaro Unbound, LA Opera offers a special Design-Your-Own (DYO) package featuring all three Figaro operas.

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The Ghosts of VersailleS  (feb 7 - mar 1)

Trapped in the spirit world, the ghost of Marie Antoinette bitterly reflects on her final suffering. Her favorite playwright tries to entertain the melancholy queen with the continuing adventures of his beloved characters from The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. But sneaky Figaro refuses to play by the script, breaking free from the opera-within-the-opera in a surprise bid for a better life.

The Barber of Seville  (feb 28 - mar 22)

Dashing Count Almaviva has lost his heart to the spunky Rosina, whose doddering guardian is determined to marry her himself. It’s Figaro to the rescue, as the resourceful barber conjures up wacky schemes and strategies to unite the young lovers.

The Marriage of Figaro  (mar 21 - apr 12)

Change is in the air and Figaro’s world is turning upside down. On the eve of the wily barber’s marriage to Susanna, Count Almaviva’s wandering eye has landed on the lovely bride-to-be. Servant and master go head to head, and even the Countess herself must spring into battle when she learns of her husband’s plans. Or is she embroiled in a liaison of her own?

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Figaro Unbound will feature a variety of programming for all ages, celebrating the revolutionary spirit. This list will be updated as events and activities are finalized.

January 2015 (and ongoing)
Figaro Beyond the Stage: A Musical Tour of the Norton Simon Museum with Maestro James Conlon

Just as Beaumarchais captured the changing social and political climate of 18th-century France in his plays, so too did artists, painting figures of renown as well as scenes of everyday life. LA Opera Music Director James Conlon takes listeners on an audio tour of masterpieces in the Norton Simon Museum, connecting the paintings on view, which span the Rococo style to Neoclassicism, with musical compositions that illustrate themes of each work. Rent a headset ($3; free for Museum members), then immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of this enlightened and revolutionary period. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information:  www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840

January 10 (at 1pm)
Tour at the Norton Simon Museum—"Music in Art: Angels to Ruscha"

The theme of music has long been expressed in the visual arts. Explore music as an allegory with Fragonard, inspiration with Kandinsky and social commentary with Ruscha. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information:  www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840.

January 18 (at 12pm)
Seminar with James Conlon: The Beaumarchais Plays and The Ghosts of Versailles

The Opera League of Los Angeles presents a seminar with Music Director James Conlon, conductor of the LA Opera's "Figaro Trilogy"—three operas inspired by the plays of Beaumarchais. He will speak on the historical importance of the original plays on the operatic world, and how Beaumarchais and the works he inspired have left their mark on western culture. The seminar will be preceded by a reception at 11:15am, with an orientation for new and prospective members at 11:30am. Admission is $35 for members; $45 for non-members.

Venue: 5th Floor, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 90012
Information: OperaLeague.org or 213.972.7220

January 24 (at 12:30pm)
Young Artists’ Workshop at the Norton Simon Museum—"Musical Masterpieces"

Explore line and movement while looking at paintings inspired by music with Mariko Tu.  Students first look at musically influenced art in the galleries, then explore line with a movement activity, and, finally create their very own watercolor paintings while listening to music for inspiration. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information:  www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840.

January 24
Study Day at the Getty: "Luxury and Liberation: Art and Revolution in 18th-Century France"

Experience the art and culture of Versailles in this program of talks, tours, and musical performances. The day begins with presentations about the culture of France in the late 18th-century and the luxurious furnishings which survived the rebellion against a culture of excess. Then take a guided tour through the Getty Museum galleries to get a close look at French aristocracy and their furniture, including the chair in which Marie Antoinette sat to have her hair and make-up done at the Petit Trianon behind the Palace of Versailles. Enjoy lunch on the spectacular Getty grounds, then return to the auditorium for a recital of selections related to LA Opera’s Figaro Unbound.

Program fee of $60 includes coffee and pastries and lunch. Parking is $15 per car.

Venue: The J. Paul Getty Museum at Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, 90049
Information: www.Getty.edu or 310.440.7330

January 31 (at 10am)
Figaro's American Adventure

Composed and directed by Eli Villanueva with a libretto by LeRoy Villanueva, Figaro's American Adventure is a wildly imaginative and engaging celebration of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Set in colonial America, Figaro leads us on a delightful musical goose chase with his band of sneaky barbers and compatriots. Ultimately, he outsmarts his adversary and love triumphs as he helps his friend the Count win the hand of his beloved Rosina.

Figaro's American Adventure is presented by LA Opera's Education and Community Engagement department as part of the Saturday Mornings at the Opera series.

Venue: Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
Information: Tickets are $15 and will go on sale on October 22 on this website. For additional information, please contact educom@laopera.org or call 213.972.3157.

February and March
Focus tour at the Getty: "Fit for a King"

Daily (except Monday) at 12:30pm. Meet the docent at the Information Desk.

Venue: The J. Paul Getty Museum at Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, 90049
Information: www.Getty.edu or 310.440.7330

February 1 (at 2pm)
Conjuring the Ghosts of Versailles: Salon at the Hammer Museum

More than two decades after The Ghosts of Versailles had its spectacular premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, composer John Corigliano and librettist William M. Hoffman reunite to discuss their "grand opera buffa" in a conversation led by LA Opera President and CEO Christopher Koelsch.

Venue: The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90024
Information: hammer.ucla.edu or 310.443.7000

February 4
Seminar at the Huntington—An Evening with LA Opera: Women and the Law

Join Catherine Allgor, the Huntington's Director of Education, as she discusses the marriage and property laws of Coverture, which held that no female person had a legal identity. Following the lecture, artists from LA Opera will explore female agency and power in opera by performing pieces from works such as The Marriage of Figaro.

Venue: The Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, 91108
Information: www.Huntington.org or 626.405.2100

February 7 through July 4, 2015
Opulent Art: 18th-Century Dress from The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection
at FIDM Museum & Galleries
Ladies and gentlemen living in 18th-century Europe dressed opulently. Luxurious silks, handmade laces and precious metal trimmings were de rigueur for those aligned with royal courts and attending state theaters. In this exhibition are displayed lavish garments and accessories spanning the century, including a rare “Figaro” costume worn by an actor portraying the rascal servant in Beaumarchais’s famed opera trilogy. The stories of this character’s hijinks undermining his aristocratic employer sparked revolutionary tensions with real life rulers, who tried unsuccessfully to ban the popular productions. Admission is free to the public.

Venue: FIDM Museum & Galleries (ground floor, park side), 919 South Grand Ave., Suite 250, Los Angeles, 90015
Info: FIDMMuseum.org or 213.623.5821

February 7 (at 1pm)
Family Day at the Norton Simon Museum—"Rococo Valentines"

Rococo paintings like Fragonard’s Happy Lovers are known for their lighthearted romance, exuberant pastels and blooming gardens. Both style and subject are perfect for the season, and make a lovely inspiration for a bright and happy Valentine of your own. Using this example, create a Rococo Valentine for someone special. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information: www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840.

February 7 through March 1
The Ghosts of Versailles

LA Opera proudly presents the first full-scale U.S. production since 1995 of John Corigliano’s "grand opera buffa," one of the most acclaimed operas of our time. Extravagantly scaled, gloriously tuneful, supremely touching and yet uproariously entertaining, The Ghosts of Versailles turns history on its head as love attempts to alter the course of destiny.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

February 13, 15, 20 and 22
I Due Figaro (The Two Figaros)
Opera UCLA, together with the UCLA Department of Theater and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music,  will present the west coast premiere of Saverio Mercadante's bubbly 1826 masterpiece, I Due Figaro. Set to a libretto by Felice Romani, who wrote the brilliant libretto for Rossini's Barber of Seville, the opera imagines the further adventures of the wily and irrepressible Figaro, who finally meets his match and is brought to account by the various women in his life. This production, featuring the UCLA Philharmonia, will be conducted by Joseph Colaneri and directed by Peter Kazaras. Performances take place at 8pm on February 13 and 20, and at 2pm on February 15 and 22.

Venue: The Freud Playhouse on the UCLA campus, near Parking Structure 3.
Information: www.music.ucla.edu/Performance/Opera

February 13 and 14 (at 8pm)
The Guilty Mother (La mère coupable) at LA Theatre Works

LA Theatre Works presents Beaumarchais' third (and least-known) Figaro play, directed by Michael Hackett. This "radio theater-style" performance is presented in partnership with UCLA and LA Opera.

Venue: James Bridges Theater, UCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles, 90095
Information: Tickets will be available through this website; please check back soon for more details.

February 14 (at 1pm)
Tour at the Norton Simon Museum—"
A Woman in Love"
Enjoy an afternoon of romance and the social graces in 18th-century art. In addition to depictions of feminine strength and beauty by Vigée-Lebrun and Boucher, artists such as Boilly and Pater provide insight into the manners and morals of the period. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information:  www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840.

February 23 (at 9am)
Salon at FIDM Museum & Galleries: "Opulent Art"
With art historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. Presented in partnership with LA Opera.

Venue: FIDM Museum & Galleries (ground floor, park side), 919 South Grand Ave., Suite 250, Los Angeles, 90015
Info: FIDMMuseum.org or 213.623.5821

March 1 through May 10
Figaro

By Charles Morey, freely adapted from The Marriage of Figaro

Wedding-day jitters rise to new heights in this dazzling adaptation of the Beaumarchais classic. A New York Times “Critic’s Pick,” this infectious comedy pokes fun at ruling class entitlements—and celebrates the wit and wisdom of the not-so-common man.

As part of its "revolutionary"-themed 2014/15 season, Pasadena-based A Noise Within, the area's premiere theater company dedicated to classic works, will enable audiences to enjoy a fresh and playful new adaptation of the timeless comedy, performed by an outstanding resident company.

Venue: A Noise Within, 3352 E Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 91107
Information:
www.ANoiseWithin.org  or 626.356.3100

March 8 through March 22
The Barber of Seville

Dashing Count Almaviva has lost his heart to the spunky Rosina, whose doddering guardian is determined to marry her himself. It’s Figaro to the rescue, as the resourceful barber conjures up wacky schemes and strategies to unite the young lovers. A topnotch cast sails through the score’s bel canto glories, thrilling the audience as characters that are just as vivid today as when they first took the stage. Rossini’s razor-sharp musical wit glints through every scene of this delicious comedy, one of the most playful and popular in the entire operatic repertoire.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

March 15, 1pm
Afternoon Salon at the Norton Simon Museum—"Embodying the Enlightenment: From Rococo to Neoclassic"
Just as Mozart represented ideals of the Enlightenment through his music, works from the Museum’s collection deftly illustrate the intellectual developments of 18th-century European culture from the artistic patronage associated with the Rococo period to the political aspirations of Neoclassical artists. Discuss how works of art involved in the social and economic changes witnessed throughout the 18th century are embodied by leading artists of the era, including Fragonard, Chardin, Ingres and Goya. Museum admission is $12 for adults; $9 for seniors; and free for Museum members, students with ID, and everyone age 18 and under.

Venue: Norton Simon Museum, 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91105
Information:  www.NortonSimon.org or 626.449.6840.

March 21 (at 2pm and at 4pm)
"The Barbers of Zarzuela"
Featuring catchy melodies and stories for the whole family, zarzuela is the popular Spanish form of operetta. This free outdoor concert for all ages will feature performances by students from LA Opera's Zarzuela Project, joined by the Mariachi Conservatory and Mariachi Voz de America. Selections include excerpts from classic works in the genre such as El barbero de Seville, a witty comedy about an aspiring soprano who hopes to perform in Rossini's opera despite her father's objections, and El barberillo de Lavapiés, whose clever hero is clearly inspired by Figaro. The concert will include additional zarzuela favorites as well as mariachi arrangements of Figaro's famous entrance aria “Largo al factotum” from The Barber of Seville and the jota from El Barberillo de Lavapies.

Venue: Plaza Kiosko, El Pueblo Historical Monument, 125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, 90012
Information: www.LAOpera.org/EduCom or 213.972.3157

March 21 through April 12
The Marriage of Figaro

Change is in the air and Figaro’s world is turning upside down. On the eve of the wily barber’s marriage to Susanna, Count Almaviva’s wandering eye has landed on the lovely bride-to-be. Servant and master go head to head, and even the Countess herself must spring into battle when she learns of her husband’s plans. Or is she embroiled in a liaison of her own? From the breathless opening notes of the overture to the touching final curtain, Mozart’s comic masterpiece brilliantly bucks the conventions of his time to deliver an ageless message of love and forgiveness.

Venue: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
Information:
www.LAOpera.org  or 213.972.8001

March 22 (at 6pm)
Young Artist recital: Sundays Live! at LACMA
LACMA's Sundays Live! series hosts a recital featuring members of LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. The program will include selections from Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, Rossini's The Barber of Seville and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, as well as excerpts from lesser known operas inspired by Beaumarchais' three Figaro plays.

Venue: Leo S. Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036
Information:
www.lacma.org/programs/music/sundays-live or 323.857.6000

April 25 (at 10am)
Figaro Opera Tales
Perfect for the whole family, Figaro Opera Tales is an entertaining introduction to the wonderful stories and melodies of one of opera’s most beloved characters: Figaro! With humor and heart, Figaro Opera Tales celebrates the power of story and music wedded together. Travel with our “opera pals” from LA Opera through the magical moments of some of Figaro's greatest stories: The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro and The Ghosts of Versailles.

Figaro Opera Tales is presented by LA Opera's Education and Community Engagement department as part of the Saturday Mornings at the Opera series.

Venue: Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, 90012
Information: Tickets are $15 and will go on sale on October 22 on this website. For additional information, please contact educom@laopera.org or call 213.972.3157.

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Pierre Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was born in Paris in 1732, the son of a watchmaker. He became a watchmaker himself, and at the age of 19 invented an escapement mechanism still used in watches today.

In 1756, at 24, Beaumarchais married a rich widow who died a year later. He found himself with a fortune—the first of several he made and then lost.

Musically talented, he became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV in 1759. For two years (1764-65), he lived in Madrid. On his return to France, he began his career as a playwright. The Barber of Seville was written in 1770, but not presented on the stage until five years later.

Meanwhile Beaumarchais became an overnight literary success with the publication of his Memoires (1773-74). At the same time he served as a secret agent on behalf of the king. In 1775, The Barber of Seville was produced for the public and increased his fame.

The Frenchman became interested in the American Revolution and aided the revolutionary cause by organizing funds, arms, supplies and ships.

Between 1779 and 1780, he wrote a sequel to The Barber of Seville, called The Marriage of Figaro, which presents the Count and Rosina—who is now the Countess Almaviva—after several years of married life. This comedy mocked the privileged classes with great humor. The first performance was delayed until 1784 because of royal opposition.

After the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Beaumarchais became involved in political struggles which eventually forced him to flee the country in 1792 and put his family, which remained behind, in terrible danger during the most violent period of the Revolution.

Beaumarchais' great comedies were not only wildly successful, they also fueled the fires of revolution which were sweeping Europe at that time. He returned to Paris in 1796 and died there in 1799.

timeline

1732 – Born in Paris on January 24

1742 – Becomes apprentice to his watchmaker father

1753 – Invents escapement and revolutionizes watch making

1759 – Appointed harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV

1764 – Travels to Spain in search of business opportunities with the new Spanish colony of Louisiana, which will influence his writing

1765 – Returns to France in March 1765 and becomes a playwright

1767 – His first dramatic play, Eugénie, premieres

1773 – Beaumarchais publishes his Memoires detailing his arguments in court and becomes an instant celebrity

1775 – The Barber of Seville premieres

1777 – British troops surrender at Saratoga to a rebel force largely clothed and armed by the supplies sent by Beaumarchais

1781 – The Marriage of Figaro is completed, but is banned by Louis XVI

1783 – Beaumarchais publishes the first of a series of Voltaire’s later works, preserving them for future generations

1784 – The ban on The Marriage of Figaro is lifted and performances of the play become wildly popular

1797 – First performances of The Guilty Mother

1799 – Beaumarchais dies in Paris

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