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Blog entries posted during March 2012

May is “Opera Month” in Los Angeles

Tourists come to LA to experience starry Hollywood, bubbling La Brea Tar pits, and great weather of course, but opera?   Well, that could all change in May when

Los Angeles’s young and thriving operatic culture takes to the stage in four very different productions.

Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez - La Boheme

In addition to LA Opera’s grand Herb Ross production of La Boheme opening May 12 starring Stephen Costello and Ailyn Perez and conducted by Patrick Summers,  three other diverse operatic events will be presented in venues throughout Los Angeles during the month of May.

Mariusz Kwiecien as Don Giovanni (photo courtesy of Seattle Opera)

The Los Angeles Philharmonic will present Mozart’s Don Giovanni from May 18 to 26 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Conducted by Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, LA Phil’s epic three-year Mozart/ Da Ponte Trilogy begins with the duo’s masterwork Don Giovanni starring baritone Mariusz Kwiecien and  featuring costumes by Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy and stage design by WDCH architect Frank Gehry.  (www.LAPhil.com)

Garcia Lorca- Solo la muerte

On May 19 and 26, Long Beach Opera will present the west coast premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar with libretto by David Henry Hwang.  Based on the life of Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca, Ainadamar tells the writer’s story who was executed in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. A gripping reflection on the undying faith of a people, Aindamar ponders the moral duty of the artist and the relationship between artistic and political freedom.  (www.LongBeachOpera.org)

Crescent City - The Industry

A new experimental opera company, The Industry, will present its inaugural production from May 10 through 27: the Los Angeles premiere of Crescent City by composer Anne LeBarron and Douglas Kearney, staged at Atwater Crossing, an industrial space in Atwater Village. Featured twice in New York City Opera’s VOX showcase of new American opera, Crescent City tells a fantastical tale of a mythical city destroyed by one hurricane and the voodoo priestess determined to save it.

The Industry’s production takes place in an industrial space and immerses the audience in a 360-degree landscape comprised of visual artists’ responses to the six chief locations of the opera.(www.TheIndustryLA.org)

So, grab your surfboard, sunblock and opera glasses and come to LA and experience OPERA!



Trainer, Carmen Recker, leads a Community Educator workshop

Do you have a passion for opera and a desire to share the excitement and drama with your community? If so, join LA Opera’s dynamic team of Community Educators! LA Opera is recruiting new volunteers and will be offering a Summer Training Program that will take you through a variety of workshops, seminars, and behind-the-scenes activities. The program will provide you with the skills and experiences needed to facilitate amazing opera talks and workshops in libraries, schools, and community centers throughout Los Angeles County. Not only will you get to share your love of opera, you will get the opportunity to work closely with LA Opera, one of the country’s great opera companies. These talks will allow you to share your passions with community members of all ages, from young children to the elderly. A love of opera is a must, and a desire to work with children is preferred.


Applicants must provide a completed application, 5 minute presentation, and a personal interview. To obtain an application, please contact Garrett Collins, Community Programs Assistant, by e-mail at gcollins@laopera.org or by phone at (213) 972-8016.  The Application Deadline is April 20, 2012.



Color, Costumes and The Two Foscari

Costume design by Mattie Ullrich

Artist Georgia O’Keefe said “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way-things I had no words for.”  Whether it is a conscious choice or something you unknowingly do, we all assign feelings, emotions, and moods to colors. Some nights we want to feel elegant, and we throw on that little black dress or suit, while during the day maybe a playful palette of pastels is necessary. Many people believe that colors can even be healing. Dating back to the 900s, “color therapy” has even been used to treat illness and disease. Color clearly plays an important role in our lives and throughout history. Costume design is no different. Color helps set the mood, move the piece along, and it unifies the production.

As you may know by now, next season The LA Opera will be doing a production of Verdi’s The Two Foscari . The costume designer is Mattie Ullrich, who is based out of New York, so I sat and talked to the costume supervisor Misty Ayres about the production.

Misty informed me that Mattie’s design concept is a mixture of medieval and modern runway fashion. Mattie prefers to use solid colors rather than texture, pattern, and print. Misty excitedly told me that personally she sees this production as a “dark comic book.”

In any production, whether it has a “comic book feel” or is a strict period piece, the designer has to consider many different aspects before settling on the color palette. The colors of each costume must be complementary (or intentionally not complementary) to the other colors in the ensemble. In addition every character’s costume on stage must work together to convey a mood and bring out the essence of the piece. Color is also a great way to show the social ranking of a character. For example, during Act I of Foscari, the chorus men will be in red and black because they are “noble” and “wise”.

Colors can shift throughout the show, taking the audience on a visual journey and showing the transformation, evolution, or de-evolution of the characters.  You will be able to see the shift of Lucrezia’s mental state reflected through the changing of her color palette.

Color can also be a great way to change focus onto different characters or groups of characters. In Foscari during Act III most of the onstage cast will be in muted tones which will blend into the set. The exception will be the band of “players” who will be in a mostly jewel-toned palette so they stand out from the scenery and the other performers.

Misty also informed me of a fun fact: Mattie does not like buttons. (Your mission as the audience: see if you can spot any sort of closures on the garment during the production.)

The Two Foscari opens September 15, 2012.

Color, Costumes and The Two Foscari (Spanish Version)


Costume design by Mattie Ullrich

Artista Geogia O’Keeffe Dijo “encontre una forma de comunicarme con colores y figuras  que no puedo explicar con palabras” Concientemente o sin darnos cuenta  usamos color como una manera de expresar como nos sentimos dia a dia.. Color claramente juega un papel importante en nuestras vidas, diseño de vestuario no es diferente..

Si ya saben o no las noticias de la  proximo temporada.. L.A Opera va a presentar una production del compositor Verdi, Los Dos Foscari. La disenadora de vestuario es Mattie Ullrich, que tiene su sede fuera de Nueva York.   Me communiqué con Misty Ayres supervisora de vestuario, para platicar un poco de la production.

Misty me informa que los diseños de Mattie son una mezcla de la epoca de la edad media y la moda que esta ocurriendo hoy. Mattie prefiere los colores solidos, trabajando junto con textura y figuras.. con entusiasmo Misty me dijo que la gama de colores del diseño le recuerdan de los libros comicos.

Los colores pueden cambiar durante todo el show, llevando a la audiencia en un viaje visual, que muestra la transformacion y evolucion de los personajes. Usteds seran capaz de ver el estado mental de Lucrezia reflejado a traves del cambio de la gama de colores en su vestuario.  El color es tambien una manera de mostrar  el estado social de un personaje. Por ejemplo, durante el acto 1 en foscari, los hombres del coro visten de rojo y negro porque son nobles y sabios.

Color tambien ayuda a destacar  ciertos grupos de personajes. En foscari durante el acto 3 la escenografia tiene tonos apagados, integrando el conjunto, a excepcion de los artistas del circo, que seran en colores llamativos, distinguiendolos de los otros artistas en el escenario.

Misty tambien me informa algo interesante y divertido de esta produccion.. a Mattie no le gustan los botones.  Cuando vengan a ver Foscari  a ver si detectan cualquier otro tipo de cierre en el vestuario..

Los Dos Foscari se abre el 15 de septiembre,, nos vemos en el teatro..

Janai Brugger Wins Met Auditions

Janai Brugger at the Met

Congratulations to soprano Janai Brugger, a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, who was a winner at the 2012 National Council Auditions held Sunday, March 18 at the Metropolitan Opera. A second-year artist in the program, she will sing Musetta for three performances (May 12, 20, 23) of LA Opera’s upcoming production of La Boheme. On May 12, the Auditions Final Concert will be broadcast via Classical KUSC 91.5fm.

Janai is one of only five winners at this year’s highly competitive National Council Auditions final. Other winners include Anthony Clark Evans, a baritone from Owensboro, KY; Matthew Grills, a tenor from Newtown, CT; Margaret Mezzacappa, a mezzo-soprano from Euclid, OH; and Andrey Nemzer, a countertenor from Moscow, Russia. The winners were selected from nine finalists who performed arias with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Davis. Each winner receives a cash prize of $15,000 as well as invaluable career exposure: the audience for the auditions includes influential opera executives, artist managers and music critics.

Nearly 1,500 singers between the ages of 20 and 30 participated in this year’s auditions, which are held annually in 41 districts and 14 regions throughout the United States and Canada and are sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera National Council. Given the reach of the auditions, the number of applicants, and the long tradition associated with them, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions are considered the most prestigious competition in North America for singers seeking to launch an operatic career.

Some of the biggest stars in opera received their first major recognition as National Council winners. Past winners of the Met Auditions include Renée Fleming, Hei-Kyung Hong, Angela Meade, Sondra Radvanovsky, Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Stephanie Blythe, Dolora Zajick, Alek Shrader, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Eric Owens, Thomas Hampson and Samuel Ramey. In 2007, the National Council Audition process was captured in an acclaimed documentary, The Audition, which was shown on PBS and released on DVD.

  •  janet says:

    You were so amazing to listen to. I enjoyed hearing you perform. I knew you would win. Best to you in the future. I know I will see you on stage at the Met. You will be a huge star aka Renee Flemming.

  • Albert Herring Smoke Effect

     At Los Angeles Opera when we need to provide smoke or fog effects we have a couple of options for available and safe technology. Most applications call for our liquid nitrogen (LN2) systems of which we have four machines. The machines are located in the basement or “trap room” beneath the stage. For this production of Albert Herring the staging requires a gas furnace “explosion”. In synchronization with an explosion sound effect we cue a two to three second blast of LN2 “smoke”.

    A stagehand tests the LN2 system prior to the performance

    Each LN2 machine is a large reservoir filled with purified water which is heated to near boiling. Operating the controls allows for precise integration of the LN2 gas into the reservoir. When this mixture takes place, the white cloud-like “smoke” is created. A series of valves and hoses are used to regulate and distribute the effect.
    The resultant effect product is a non-toxic mixture not dissimilar to the clouds in the sky. This provides for a spectacular effect that does not bother the singers.
    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Smoke Effect

    Albert opens the trap, throws a lit match in, and the “explosion” occurs

    In addition to Albert Herring, the effect will be used extensively in our upcoming production of La Boheme.
  • Margie Schnibbe says:

    Thank you for your comment. Please send your inquiry to Technical Director : Jeff Kleeman

  • “Albert Herring” live broadcast tonight!

    Tune in tonight for a special “L.A. Opera on Air” live broadcast of Albert Herring on Classical KUSC 91.5fm, starring Alek Shrader and Christine Brewer. Hosted by Duff Murphy and Kimberlea Daggy, the broadcast begins at 7:30pm, and will feature backstage interviews with conductor James Conlon and the stars of the opera. For opera lovers who live outside Southern California, you can listen via online streaming at www.kusc.org.

    Albert Herring Food Props

    Albert Herring has a number of expendable food items that are consumed by the performers and need to be replaced for every show. Variables that determine what real food items are used include the action, staging, set design, and a performer’s dietary restriction or personal preference.
    During the rehearsal process food items and quantities needed for each performance are determined. An expendable food list containing the items needed for each scene, how the food is used and all other relevant information is compiled by a Stage Manager and managed by the Props Coordinator.

    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Props Dept

    Prop lemonade bottles are filled with sugar-free lemonade

    Before each performance fresh food items are purchased by a production assistant and the food is prepared for the performance by a union Prop Master in a small kitchen backstage.
    Los Angeles Opera Technical Department Albert Herring

    Produce and hot foods in the backstage kitchen

    In the Grocer’s Shop scene the action requires real peaches, apples, cucumbers and turnips. These real fruits and vegetables are mixed in with the artificial produce onstage.
    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera Tech Dept

    The Grocer's scene

    In the May Day Festival scene the singers drink lemonade and eat an assortment of finger foods including sausage rolls, ham sandwiches and cupcakes.
    Albert Herring Los Angeles Opera May Day scene

    The May Day scene

    Extra whip cream icing is added to Albert’s cupcake to support the action of the May Day scene.
    Albert Herring Food Props Los Angeles Opera

    Cupcakes and marshmallow “taffy”

    In the final scene the saltwater taffy is replaced with marshmallows wrapped in parchment paper to alleviate the noise made by the original hard candy hitting the floor.
    LA Opera Albert Herring Props Department

    The Final scene