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Blog entries tagged with LA Opera

Christopher Koelsch Named President and CEO of LA Opera

LA Opera is pleased to announce that Christopher Koelsch  has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective September 15, 2012.

The Company’s current Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Rountree, who has served LA Opera in an interim basis since late 2008 while also serving as President and CEO of the Music Center of Los Angeles County, will continue as the head of the Music Center and will join the LA Opera Board of Directors.

Eli and Edythe Broad General Director Plácido Domingo said, “We are very grateful for Steve Rountree’s guidance and leadership during the past few years. He has helped provide the Company with a solid foundation from which to build and grow. His guidance was strong and steady and will be missed. The time has come for LA Opera to have its own full-time business leader to join with me in continuing to advance the Company’s central artistic position, not only in Los Angeles but in the world of music. I cannot think of anyone more appropriate than Christopher Koelsch. Christopher is one of the most skilled professionals I have worked with and it gives me great pleasure to have him take on more responsibility as President and CEO of LA Opera. I embrace our future together at this wonderful company.”

Christopher Koelsch joined the company in 1997. He was named Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2010.  In his current role, and prior to that as Vice President for Artistic Planning, Mr. Koelsch has demonstrated exemplary leadership of the LA Opera team.  Under the guidance of Plácido Domingo, he has helped produce over 30 new productions, including four world premieres, and seven television recordings including the two-time Grammy winning Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny . Additionally, he has been responsible for all aspects of artistic and strategic planning, overseeing the Company’s music administration, production, marketing, public relations and educational administration.

We are excited that his role within the Company is expanding and can’t wait to see what the future holds for LA Opera under Mr. Koelsch’s leadership.



Calling All Opera Virgins – LA Opera Wants You!

Albert Herring is a rollicking comedy about the only virgin left in a tiny English town, a meek mama’s boy who has a night he’ll never forget. Our upcoming production of Albert Herring (which opens Saturday, February 25), which is sung in English, is a perfect introduction to opera for those new to the experience. If you’re an “opera virgin,” you’re in for the time of your life, too!

We’re offering $25 tickets to all “opera virgins!” If you’ve never been to the opera before, we hope you’ll take advantage of this special opportunity to see Albert Herring. You can even be a shining example of unblemished purity and bring along an additional opera neophyte for only $25 too! The three-day sale lasts from Wednesday, February 22 through Friday, February 24.

The Albert Herring “opera virgins” offer is available for five performances only:

Saturday, February 25, at 7:30pm
Saturday, March 3, at 7:30pm
Thursday, March 8, at 7:30pm
Wednesday, March 14, at 7:30pm
Saturday, March 17, at 2pm

For tickets, visit the box office in person or call Audience Services at (213) 972-8001 or go online at www.laopera.org and use promo code: operavirgin.

(Already a ticket holder or subscriber? Bring an Opera Virgin friend for $25! Just call Audience Services purchase tickets for your neophyte friends!)


Meet the Artists of Simon Boccanegra on March 1

Got plans on Thursday, March 1? Well, drop them and come to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to see Simon Boccanegra instead! (And if you’ve already seen it, come back and see it again.) Immediately following the March 1 performance, we’re hosting a special reception for all ticket holders in the Oval Bar where you can meet the artists from this spectacular, critically and popularly acclaimed production!  Plácido Domingo, Maestro James Conlon, Ana Maria Martinez, members of the orchestra and chorus will all be on hand to meet and greet fans!

There will be complimentary coffee and deserts and the bar will be open for additional purchases.

For tickets, visit www.laopera.org and we’ll see you on March 1!


The Magic Dream – Day 2

 

The Magic Dream, Day 2 – Meet the Cast from LA Opera on Vimeo.

I know opera has a reputation for being “heavy,” “long,” “serious,” and – dare I say it? – BORING.
I have to say though, that in the seven years that I have been part of this strange musical world, I have never met such a crew of boisterous, good-natured, good-humored, creative, silly, and passionate people. Maybe it’s because everything about this art form is so, well, BIG: big sets, big costumes, big voices. I guess it takes some pretty big personalities, too.
Our little opera, The Magic Dream, is pretty silly, as you will see. I was going to write a little introduction of our cast and creative team, but I think, in this case, video speaks a thousand words.

The Many Faces of Opera in LA

We are excited that there is a vital conversation about opera in Los Angeles. We welcome the ongoing dialogue about which operas should be produced and how – it helps inform our future seasons and speaks to the strength and continuing popularity of opera as an art form. It is exciting to see so many organizations putting their spin on this timeless and enduring art form.

LA Opera is known around the world for our innovative pursuit of perfection in opera. Regardless of whether it is a world premiere or a 150-year-old classic, we approach each piece with artistic integrity and a commitment to creating a heightened emotional and cultural experience for our audiences. We are proud stewards of an art form which allows for multiple aesthetic perspectives. We also select operas based on their artistic value without regard to the year they are composed. The hallmark of a great story or artwork is its ability to transcend generations — the popularity of our recent La Bohème is a perfect example of this.

That being said, opera is a rich and diverse art form and we strongly support the creation of new works and the exploration of varied repertory. Our track record proves this. For example, we enthusiastically supported The Industry's production of "Crescent City" by providing casting, lighting and sound equipment, media relations support and marketing. On our own stage, we have often been accused of being too adventurous.

The onset of the recession, coinciding with a bold and ambitious Ring cycle,  led to a slight and temporary shift toward less modern repertory. It was a financially responsible course that allowed us to continue to produce opera of the highest caliber, bring in new audiences and weather the recession. Best of all: it worked. We are well on our way to being debt free — an amazing accomplishment considering the challenging economy.

We continue to value diversity in programming and already have several world premieres and modern operas in the planning stages. In the meantime, however, we invite you to partake of opera — LA Opera style — in all of its glory: elaborate, evocative scenery, fully-staged drama, a entire symphony orchestra in the pit, unamplified singing, world-class couture...unrivaled stagecraft and musicianship.

Firebreather from The Tow Foscari

 From LA Opera’s upcoming The Two Foscari — a brand new production (of a 168-year-old opera) starring Plácido Domingo.


The Best Day of College You Ever Had

Having graduated in 2010 there is something that I realized. I miss college.

Many may share the same sentiment, but I know my pining is for more than the social surroundings and unparalleled freedom. My longing comes from my absence from the classroom: learning, growing, constantly challenging one’s self, and the influx of brand new ideas (or old ones presented with a new twist).

The classroom is a beautiful entity that I know we all take for granted while sitting in them. The communal experience where minds - no two exactly alike - listen, contemplate, share ideas, challenge thoughts, and take something with them by the end of the day that they didn’t have before – knowledge.

With that said, I am excited for the new season ahead because of the wonderful program here at LA Opera, spearheaded by our Education Manager, Jill Burnham, known as Opera for Educators.  It's like the best day of college you ever had!

Opera for Educators

This program takes place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where hundreds of teachers take seven Saturdays throughout our season to learn about opera.

Actually, “learn about opera” does this class no justice. This is a program that creates strategies for integrating art and the multidisciplinary art form of opera into teacher’s curriculum to reinforce important historical, cultural and socio/political events. Teachers develop and discuss strategies for making curriculum connections between opera and literature, language studies, cultural diversity, geography and the science of sound. Opera for Educators is a home for those teachers who seek to better their minds, better their classrooms and better themselves.

Opera for Educators

I was lucky enough to help Jill out during the course of Opera for Educators during the 2011-2012 season and my world view on opera dramatically shifted. Jill creates such a fun learning environment by inviting some of the most renowned minds to lecture on the music, history, and literature surrounding the opera in discussion. Every so often Jill even surprises her teachers by bringing in professional artists to give recitals singing pieces from the opera or other pieces by the composer. She’s also been known to nab directors, stage managers, costume designers, orchestra players and stars of the main stage.

If you are a teacher – and we all take the role of teacher, just as we all take on the role of student – then this is a program you should not miss out on.

To register and/or get more information, click here.

We look forward to seeing you at the Opera!



James Conlon Extends Contract as LA Opera Music Director through 2018

We are pleased to announce that Music Director James Conlon has extended his contract with LA Opera through the end of the 2017/2018 season.

Zev Yaroslavsky, James Conlon and Christopher Koelsch at An Evening with James Conlon 2-20-13

The news was made public by LA Opera’s President and CEO Christopher Koelsch at a special event honoring Mr. Conlon, held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall. During the event, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky presented Mr. Conlon with an official proclamation from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors celebrating his ongoing and continued contribution to LA Opera and the City of Los Angeles.

Mr. Conlon joined LA Opera as Music Director at the beginning of the 2006/07 season. Since then, he has conducted a total of 33 different operas at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, including 18 company premieres and two U.S. premieres. To date, he has conducted 190 performances of mainstage LA Opera productions, more than any other conductor in the Company’s history. Additionally, his highly anticipated pre-performance talks continue to draw standing-room only crowds.

Mr. Conlon is currently prepping for the March 9 premiere of The Flying Dutchman followed by Cinderella on March 23. Tickets for both productions are on sale now


Noah's Flood: Our Opera Expedition Has Begun!

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Community Opera production of Benjamin Britten's Noah's Flood.  Performances are April 19 and 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

First days of anything always get me a little paranoid. Did I pack an extra pencil? Is my score with me? And for that matter, where on earth did my singing voice go?  This was me right before the first ensemble rehearsal of Benjamin Britten's Noah's Fludde (Noye's Fludde), this year's Community Opera. Heightening my nervousness, this was also the first time I had ever done this program. I knew a bit about it, though: it is a huge annual opera performed by adults, kids, teens and non-singers like me, as well as music professionals from the community.

Hopping from the car, I walked into our rehearsal venue, the spacious auditorium of East LA Performing Arts Academy. Immediately, all my apprehension went away. I started seeing people I knew from last summer’s Opera Camp, both staff and campers. How I have missed hearing director Eli Villanueva’s continued attempt to make the word “groovy” cool again!

Muse Lee in Opera Camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muse Lee in LA Opera's 2012 Opera Camp. Photo by Taso Papadakis.


At the beginning, we were given an overview of the program. On April 19 and 20, we will be performing at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels with choruses from all over LA, numbering around 200 people altogether. A community orchestra of 100 members, along with LA Opera Orchestra members, will accompany us, all under the baton of a certain Maestro named James Conlon.  If that's not the pinnacle of epic, I don't know what it is — especially since 2013 marks Britten's hundredth birthday!

flood animals


We plunged right into rehearsal. The younger kids, the animals in the ark, went to a separate room to rehearse. As for the teens and adults, we stayed with assistant director Heather Lipson Bell. Bit by bit, we learned our motions in the opening scene; we pieced together our entrance, exit and the choreography in between. In this scene, we are congregation members searching for the Lord’s guidance. Eli encouraged us to go beyond this simplified sketch and develop individual identities. He asked us to think about who we are, why we're having this crisis of faith, and how this dictates even our subtlest movement choices. Each action we perform can be interpreted in many different ways, and the actions we settle on depend on our own character. I can't wait to get to know mine better!

flood adults

After a short break, we began singing the lonely, searching melody of “Lord Jesus, think on me,” our voices floating through the space, the amateur voices supported and buoyed up by the resonant, trained voices. Noye's Fludde is based on the medieval Chester Miracle Plays, meant to be performed by townspeople and local choristers. Britten intended his opera version to be the same way: a community production with singers and non-singers, adults, children and everyone in between. The resulting sound is something so exquisitely pure and organic that I almost forgot I was actually singing. It just felt completely natural. I can only imagine how gorgeous it will be with 200 other singers and orchestra.

Our next task was to put the action together with the singing. This was easier said than done. Whenever I focused on the singing, I forgot my blocking, and whenever I switched my attention to the action, the words and music escaped me. I never realized how difficult onstage coordination can be—it really makes me appreciate performances more! Though it's challenging for some of us, the opening scene is already starting to solidify.

I left rehearsal brimming with happiness and anticipation. Everything around me looked infinitely more awesome. Now, the flood waters have come in and our ship is off and away. Our Community Opera expedition has begun!


Noah's Flood Rehearsal: "I Need a Stunt Double"

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Community Opera production of Benjamin Britten's Noah's Flood.  Performances are April 19 and 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Last week Friday, a miracle of biblical proportions took place: school finally ended. A long, glorious spring break stretched before me like the rainbow after the flood. The perfect way to celebrate its arrival was going to Noah’s Flood rehearsal stress-free.

And what a celebration it was. This was the most rewarding rehearsal yet: on Sunday, everything began to come together. For the first time, the ark was brought in. With it there, we went over our wave movements, and we confirmed our various cues. As we did, the “doomed” practiced getting engulfed. I said before that their drowning looked like a horror film scene, but during this rehearsal, director Eli changed it a bit. It just got a whole lot scarier. Now, it involves the drowned rolling around on the ground. I think the situation was summed up best by one of the victims: “I need a stunt double.”

Muse

While we worked the waves, the four guardian angels practiced maneuvering the ark for the first time. I almost lost focus on my movements because I couldn’t take my eyes off the ship. With our blue strips billowing around it, it sailed and rocked and veered. Later, I went up close to the ark, and I realized that it was only a frame with fabric. Though one of my fellow waves joked that we needed CGI, I heard one lady marveling at how incredibly well it worked. She was saying that this really shows the beauty of theater: the audience is not only given a story, but is also invited to fill in the gaps and complete it. It’s kind of like how when a tree falls in a forest, it technically only makes a sound if people are there to hear it. Or maybe it’s more like a coloring book. We provide the outline, and each audience member can fill the blank spaces with his or her own colors.

Ark far

After a short break, Eli got us back on our feet. It was now time to start working on the final scene. We figured out our entrances and exits and got a rough idea of the music. As we practiced, the people manipulating the rainbow sent it streaking back and forth over our heads. It was absolutely gorgeous, but as a wave, I could only imagine their pain once we hit the forty-minute mark.

Doomed

As usual, the three hours of rehearsal went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to go home. With rehearsal over, spring break officially began. I can’t ask for a more wonderful start!


Noah’s Flood Rehearsal: It’s All Coming Together

During a field trip last week, I mentioned rehearsal to one of my teachers. She asked me what show I’m doing, and I told her that it’s Noah’s Flood. “By Benjamin Britten?” she asked. “I did that show about 20 years ago!” She went on to tell me about her experience. It’s almost scary to think that in 2033, we’ll be talking about our production like that.

However, I decided to slow down and take it one rehearsal at a time — I mean, we haven’t even started rehearsing in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels yet. Rehearsal #5 took place on Saturday, instead of our usual Sunday. Because of the wicked L.A. traffic, it took a while for all of us to get to East Los Angeles Performing Arts Academy. When almost everyone had arrived, though, we began rehearsal.

There was something new in the building that day: tape markings on the floor to delineate the Cathedral’s stage area. We knew what that meant. It was time to really get down to business. Sure enough, director Eli Villanueva announced that today would be our first stumble-through rehearsal, in which we’d put all the scenes we’d learned in sequence.

Muse and Eli

After some warm-up, we dispersed to our opening positions. All of us enter from different locations, and originally, a small group of us had to run halfway around the stage area to get to our initial positions.  A few injuries later, we found our number reduced to only two. Eli greeted us with the additional happy news that he had made an executive decision: by his decree, we now had to run around the entire stage. When we finally made it to our spots a geologic era later, we ended up gasping instead of singing. I didn’t know that I had signed up for operatic boot camp!  

After Eli worked with us on the physical, assistant conductor Paul Floyd gave us tips for the singing. He told us to really think about the verbs and to energize them. Now, it sounds less like a practiced mantra, and more like a sincere prayer. With all those repeating phrases, it’s easy to simply chant the words, but Paul helped us really find the color and intention in each one.

Katie and Eli

We transitioned from the opening scene to the ark entrance. The kids came downstairs to rehearse this, and since the adult ensemble isn’t in the scene, we got to sit down and watch. What a treat! Playing various types of animals, including birds, cats, and deer, the children paraded out, swooping, prowling, or prancing up the ramp and into the ark. My wavemate and I alternated between happily singing along with the animals and going insane because of the cuteness. By the time the mice came out, we were literally dying.

NF Lions

Luckily, break came next, so we had time to recover. We bonded over Shakespeare, dying oranges, and free verse about cement. As cheesy as it sounds, theater really brings people together and makes them bond over the most random things!

After break, we continued from right where we left off. With our animals in the ark, we proceeded to the flood scene. With all of us together for the first time, the power of the music ballooned us up, infusing the scene with an incredible collective energy. Instead of simply being the manipulator of a fabric strip, I keenly felt my own role in the drama. My wave and I had become a living, breathing character.

Birds

It’s really all coming together now. I can’t believe that we’re already halfway through the program, and only about three weeks away from the performance. And I can see it already—with each rehearsal, we’re also a little closer to 2033, when we’ll be talking on and on about Britten’s centennial year and that amazing production we put together.


Noah’s Flood Rehearsal – Going Overboard

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Community Opera production of Benjamin Britten's Noah's Flood.  Performances are April 19 and 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

Early on in Sunday’s Noah’s Flood rehearsal, director Eli pronounced, “We really have to go overboard.”  Whether or not the pun was intended, I’d say that was the theme of the day: testing our limits. The thing is, we had everything in place, and our new job was to turn it up several notches and amplify it—even if that meant completely overdoing it and feeling so embarrassed that we’d never want to face Eli again.

Muse

With this objective in mind, we plunged right into rehearsal, running through the opening scene several times. After carefully observing us, Eli pointed to the open door, through which we could see a distant fence at the edge of the campus. He told us to keep in mind that there would be audience members that far away, and that we had to effectively convey the story to them. Therefore, it had to be bigger, louder, and way past the boundary of ridiculous. We had to shed the “armor of appropriateness” and “really explore what embarrasses you.” We took his words to heart and started translating them into action, elongating our bodies and stretching our arms as much as possible. We had extra motivation since he announced that the first person who touched the ceiling would get a thousand dollars.

Next, as the kids rehearsed their ark entrance, assistant director Heather took the “waves” and “doomed” outside to practice.  Since it was so windy, our fabric strips wouldn’t listen to us, instead flapping every which way and talking back. It was exhausting, but it actually added a splash of realism. Now, during the storm scene, I can truly imagine the wind whipping my wave and my clothes and my hair. And plus, my wavemate and I had fun pretending that our wave was a parachute and that we were going to fly away.

Lions

As we went back inside, my wavemate and I nearly got trampled by the animals, but we narrowly avoided this fate and got to watch the rest of their ark entrance scene. When working with the kids, Eli told them something similar to what he told us: he said that the scene felt a little tentative and that it needed to be bolder. He said to them, “I’m giving you permission to make mistakes.”

Once they had worked on the scene a little more, we waves stepped in and the storm began. With Eli’s words in mind, I threw myself so fully into the motions and the music that I don’t quite remember what happened. All I know is that my limbs are really sore and that, according to my wavemate’s mom, I had quite a lethal facial expression.

Birdy

Together with the animals, we sang our parts, and then slowly exited the stage. However, assistant conductor Paul, who was accompanying us on the piano, didn’t stop playing. For the first time, he kept on going, right to the very last note. There were several moments of silence. Then, we burst into applause.

And that’s how our very last ensemble rehearsal ended. Next week, the principals and the community orchestra will join us, and then we’ll be moving to our actual performance venue, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Each rehearsal is more exciting than the last—who knew that embarrassing yourself can be this fun?


Noah's Flood: Taking The Leap

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Community Opera production of Benjamin Britten's Noah's Flood. Performances were this past weekend, April 19 and 20 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  This is her final post in the series.


Tuesday and Wednesday

I’ve been saying the word “almost” a lot: we’re “almost” there, it’s “almost” coming together, etc. During Noah’s Flood rehearsal on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, we finally abandoned “almost” and took that leap.

On Tuesday, we rehearsed the performance with the community choirs and orchestras for the first time at the Cathedral. Both elements added incredible majesty, grandeur, and energy. Still, the performance remained at the “almost” stage.

However, on Wednesday we added four main things: costumes, lights, the LA Opera Orchestra members, and most exciting of all, Maestro James Conlon.  And one that day, two things happened that completely changed the game.

Noah's Flood

The first of these things came in the form of a surprise visitor: a bespectacled man with a close-trimmed beard. Blinking, I whispered to Noah (Yohan Yi), “Is that Christopher Koelsch?!” It really was.  That’s when I really sank in that we were part of something so significant that it called for a visit by LA Opera’s President and CEO. My determination hardened. I would do all I could to help make it a great performance.

For me, that set the tone for the whole day. When the time came for rehearsal to start, we went to the halls flanking the sanctuary to review notes and warm up. As we did, we heard a murmur and applause from inside. Maestro Conlon had arrived.

Noah's Flood

I knew that the second I ran out into the sanctuary for my opening position, I would see him up there on the podium. My nervousness escalated, and the beatings of my heart hurtled to a peak. The thundering opening chords sounded. My running partner and I exchanged a glance; it was our cue.

At that moment, the second amazing thing happened. The moment I took off sprinting, my nervousness immediately converted itself to fear and anger. I ran down the aisle, bursting with desperation, searching everywhere for answers. When I skidded to a halt, it wasn’t me anymore, but at last, my character. For the first time, I carried my voice to the breaking point, singing on the edge of danger.

Noah's Flood

Throughout the program, director Eli Villanueva, assistant conductor Paul Floyd, and assistant director Heather Lipson-Bell have been urging us to realize our intention. Up until that point, it had been make believe. Now, one by one, we were all finding our own meaning in the words and actions.

We bumped through the rest of the opera, costume changes and Maestro Conlon and all. By the end of rehearsal, the only element left to add was an audience, which would come in during Thursday’s final dress rehearsal.

On the first day of tech week, Monday, I don’t think any of us could honestly say we were prepared to perform. By the time we hit Wednesday, we crossed the boundary between “almost” and “finally.” Thursday, Friday, Saturday, here we come. We couldn’t feel any more ready.


Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

At this point, I began reflecting on all parts of my Noah’s Flood experience—the beautiful music, the friendships made with the ensemble members and principals, the number of times we imitated Jamieson Price (Voice of God)—and I keenly felt the fact that it would all be over soon. I knew that it wouldn’t end without a bang: the last three days would be a stunning finale. 

Noah's Flood

The first of these three days, Thursday, was our final dress rehearsal. For the first time, we had a handful of people in the audience. It went smoothly, and the audience loved the performance.

We still hadn’t endured the greatest test, though. On Friday, all of our emotions were at a peak. The stress from tech week had now accumulated, and it now aggravated by opening night nerves. It didn’t help that we were told that two thousand people were coming.

 

Downstairs, assistant director Heather Lipson-Bell led us through our warm-ups and review. Halfway through, Eli came in. He stood up on the platform and began to speak to us. “On Monday,” he admitted, “I was concerned.” He went on to tell us how we had then invested all that we had into the performance, and how it had now evolved into something truly beautiful. He concluded by saying, “Let your bodies and souls reach the heavens, and just do what you know to do.”

Noah's Flood

With his words in mind, we went upstairs to the sanctuary and got into our places. When we saw all the pews swelling with people, our hearts fluttered again. “This is what two thousand people looks like…” someone whispered. Eli’s words, though, repeated in our minds: “Let your bodies and souls reach the heavens. Just do what you know to do.”

And that’s exactly what we did.

Hearing the applause of thousands of people is a frightening, cathartic, overwhelming moment. We glanced around at each other, smiling uncontrollably. We had done it, and we felt fully confident to do it again on Saturday.

Saturday’s routine was the same as Friday’s: we brought our quick-change costumes upstairs, and then went back downstairs to warm up, review, and receive our final pep talk. Eli expressed how proud he was of us, and thanked us for giving our all. For the final time, we went to our opening positions.

LA Opera

Knowing that it would be my last time singing each number, I poured more than I ever had before into the performance. I tapped into my desperation during “Lord Jesus, think on me,” and let loose my fury in the storm scene. At last, we reached the finale. As we sang the soaring, wondrous melody of “What though in solemn silence all,” with the choirs and orchestra triumphantly accompanying us, I gazed out into the audience, and my throat constricted. When I sang the last “Amen” and slowly retreated offstage with the rest of the cast, there was no stopping it anymore. I sank down in the choir pews and wept into my sleeve.

Noah's Flood

The lights went back on, and audience swept us up in warm, rushing applause. We bowed and waved, still in disbelief. Then, when the audience began to disperse, I met up with my wave-mate. We went downstairs to hang up our costumes for the last time.

Muse and Ellie
Muse and her "wave-mate" Ellie after the performance

There were still tears in my eyes as we went down the stairs and said goodbye to all the staff and ensemble members. That night, before and after, there were many incredible moments, but I think it’s best to end by relating a single incident.

Over the course of the program, I had become friends with a young man with an intellectual disability. He was always cheerful and bubbly, and whenever he saw anyone, he would break into a huge smile. That night, as I spoke with my wave-mate through tears, he walked in and noticed me. For a moment, he watched uncertainly. Then, he stepped forward and tightly wrapped his arms around me for a long embrace. When he finally pulled away, I looked up. To my surprise, there were now tears gathered in his eyes as well. Struggling not to cry, he hugged me and my wave-mate one more time, and shakily said goodbye. “Next year,” I managed to reply. He nodded, bravely smiled, and then slowly walked away.

I’ve covered this Community Opera program over nine blog posts. However, I think describing this one moment makes all of them unnecessary.

Noah's Flood


A Backstage Look at Day 3 of Scenery Assemble

The Tosca scenery arrived from Houston in three 53-foot trucks in thousands of small pieces. It normally takes our stage crew two or three days to assemble all of the pieces into a full stage setting. With rental or incoming productions, minor repairs often have to be made due to the stress of shipping and handling. By the end of the third day, we have begun to make these minor repairs and scenic touch-ups.

Tosca scenery LA Opera

Replica hand-carved foam sculptures were designed for this production. The sculptures are hard-coated with urethane foam and treated with scenic paint to look like stone.

Tosca Curtain LA Opera

Each act has a different silk curtain. These silk drops are weighted at the bottom with a drapery chain to keep them from fluttering around when the curtain flies in and out. Note that a small bit of drapery chain hangs below the curtain. This chain will be sewn back into the bottom of the drop. 

Tosca Scenery LA Opera

One of the final elements of the scenery to be assembled is the ceiling. The aluminum triangular trusses serve as a lightweight skeletal structure. The ceiling is attached and held in place by four batten pipes over the stage.

Tosca scenery

A scenic artist touches up the walls with gray paint custom-mixed to match the existing color. Note that the ceiling is now in place in the set.


Education & Community Programs 13/14 General Department Auditions

LA Opera's Education and Community Programs Department will be holding auditions on:

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2013 from 10am to 4pm.
  • Wednesday, June 26, 2013 from 10am to 4pm.

If you are interested in auditioning, please send a resume and headshot to:

LA Opera
Attn: Education and Community Programs Auditions
135 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

or email us at educom@laopera.org with Department Auditions in the subject line.

For additional information, see below or click here!


Opera Camp - "Art as Spiritual Resistance"

Opera Camp 2013 opened early on July 29 with an orientation in the rehearsal rooms of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement, Dr. Stacy Brightman, introduced the two operas we would be performing, Brundibár and Friedl. Brundibár, the story of two children’s victory over an evil organ grinder, was written by Czech composer Hans Krása on the eve of World War II. Soon after writing the opera, Krása was transported to the Terezín concentration camp, and there, he reconstructed the score. The children in the camp performed Brundibár fifty-five times. Most of them, along with Krása, were later killed in the camps.

Friedl was composed by our director, Eli Villanueva, with a libretto by movement director Leslie Stevens. It is the story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who secretly taught art to the children in Terezín. Before she was killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau, she hid away the children’s drawings in a suitcase, ensuring that at least their art would survive. Dr. Brightman concluded, “Their art was spiritual resistance. It was their way of retaining their humanity when the Nazis tried to strip it away.”  We knew what she meant: our performances weren’t just shows we were putting on. They were fulfillments of our duties as fellow artists.

Music_rehearsal

After the orientation, we kicked off camp with a movement session and music rehearsals. We learned the stirring, haunting Lullaby, sung by all the children of the village to drown out the songs of the titular organ grinder. What’s so unique and poignant about the Lullaby is that it’s a reversal of roles. While parents usually sing lullabies to their children, this Lullaby is sung by children to their mothers.

While the younger campers went for a scavenger hunt at the Music Center, we teens stayed back to begin rehearsing Friedl. Though some parts were tricky, the melodies and harmonies sounded gorgeous. During lunch, we started getting to know each other. It’s just wonderful hanging out and working with fellow music lovers my age—and at my favorite place on Earth, to boot!

Muse in Friedl

Dr. Brightman spoke to us again after lunch, giving us more historical background. We discussed the fact that, in Friedl, we play actual historical people, and therefore we have a responsibility to them and their memory. “If we don’t tell the story, it makes it possible to happen again,” Dr. Brightman reminded us. After more rehearsals, we headed home to rest and review.

On Day 2, we went deeper into the previous day’s scenes and moved further into the music of Brundibár. Then, like the first day, we split up. The younger children went with Senior Director of Production, Rupert Hemmings, for a backstage tour of the Dorothy Chandler, while we teens rehearsed Friedl.

Bkstg_Tour

During that rehearsal, Eli conducted a very memorable exercise. To help Maddie (our Friedl) make her spoken lines more organic and natural, he had her try to sing them, then speak them as recitative. As an example, he treated us to an impromptu performance of Count Almaviva’s recitative from The Marriage of Figaro “Che imbarazzo è mai questo.” That was one of the highlights of camp so far!

As we went further into Friedl, though, the mood got more serious. As I listened to the blithe, cheery singing of the principals, my heart broke to think that so many of the lively, creative children depicted in the opera were silenced in the camps. It strengthened my resolve to do what Dr. Brightman had told us to do: honor their memory by passing on their story.

Staging

Lunch and a Brundibár staging rehearsal ended the second day of camp. In these two days of rehearsal, I’ve realized that it’s not like last year for me: like I said, as a complete singing newbie, it had been all about struggling to read the music or fighting to hit the right note. This year, though, I’m actually listening to the music, stepping back and hearing what it’s trying to say. I understand we have a responsibility as artists to do this, and act as ambassadors for history through art. And now, in Opera Camp 2013, I feel ready to take on this challenge.


Opera Camp: Brundibár Will Never Die

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Opera Camp production of Hans Krása's Brundibár. Performances will take place August 10 and 11 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.  This is her third post in the series.

 

Rehearsal on Monday marked the beginning of the second, and final, week of Opera Camp. At the beginning of the week, it was little scary to think that on Saturday, the curtain would be going up on our performance. We knew that we had some serious work to do.

Dancing

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we started to really piece together the production. Eventually, we began to bump-through rehearsals of Brundibár. Director Eli Villanueva and Movement Director Leslie Stevens constantly reminded us to engage our expressions and our bodies to the fullest, to the point of cartoonish exaggeration. Sometimes, though, we ensemble members got a little lazy; while the principals sang, we stopped investing full focus and power into the performance. Leslie reminded us that none of the characters have status unless we give it to them. Everything is built around our reactions. “The world is created by you guys,” she said. “Otherwise, the story doesn’t get told.”

Muse swooning 

In Friedl rehearsals, too, we were on our feet blocking from the beginning of the week. A depiction of the art classes taught by Friedl Dicker-Brandeis in Terezín, Friedl is as different from Brundibár as you can get. The reflective, realistic Friedl is a refreshing contrast with—and complement to—the splashy, stylized world of Brundibár. With a small cast consisting of only the teens, Friedl is strikingly intimate and personal. The opera itself is all about contrasts, too. The emotions expressed in the piece range from liberating joy to fear of death; the characters experience each within, and in spite of, the other. As the character Lilly sings, “With black, is always white/So I know from darkness, I’m sailing into light.”

Though Friedl and Brundibár rehearsals required a lot of energy, that doesn’t mean Opera Camp was all work and study these past few days—during every rehearsal break, the kids took over the piano and conducted some rocking sing-along sessions.

Lunchtime

After our rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon, we said goodbye to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and on Thursday morning, we were at our performance venue, Barnsdall Gallery Theater, for the first time. We started out with warm-ups onstage, where the set was already in place, and we began to get acquainted with the new space. After our warm-ups, we ran through several scenes in Brundibár and Friedl. It was a little difficult adjusting to the dimensions of the stage, but we started to get used to it. Though we have some aspects to work on, such as diction and breathing, we still have one more day.

Muse on stage

At the end of Thursday’s rehearsal, we had a special guest, one whom we had been looking forward to meeting from the very beginning: Ela Weissberger, Terezín survivor. She had sung the role of the Cat in all fifty-five performances of Brundibár in the camp. In the ten minutes we had with her, Mrs. Weissberger spoke to us for a while. Then, with Little Joe and Annette joining hands with her, we all sang the Victory March Finale, we in English and she in the original Czech.

Ela with Campers

As we marched alongside Mrs. Weissberger, my eyes welled up. For the first time, I keenly felt the triumph expressed in the music. Mrs. Weissberger had explained to us that when almost all of her cast-mates were sent to the gas chambers, she thought Brundibár had died with them. To her, we are all an avowal that Brundibár will never die.


Opera Camp: “Remember Me and My Friends”

Muse Lee, our favorite high school blogger, has returned for a series on her participation in the Opera Camp production of Hans Krása's Brundibár. Performances took place August 10 and 11 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre.  This is her fourth and final post in the series.

On Friday morning, we arrived at our performance venue, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, with side-parts, curls, and way too much hairspray. It was the day of the dress rehearsal.

Once everyone had arrived, we headed into the theater. Dr. Stacy Brightman, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement, formally introduced Mrs. Ela Weissberger, the original Cat in all 55 performances of Brundibár in Terezín.

Ela and Stacy

The coming hour, Dr. Brightman said, would be the most important of Opera Camp. Mrs. Weissberger sat down in a chair, and we crowded around her on the floor. Mrs. Weissberger then shared her story. She was 11 years old when her family was deported. She recalled that it was snowing that day, and that she had begged her mother to take her home. Her story led us from the border-crossing in the icy weather, through the uncertain days in Terezín, through her liberation and return to civilian life, and at last, to the worldwide revivals of Brundibár. Despite everything, what amazed me the most was that her words were so full of light. She spoke of friendship and hope, and of her art teacher Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. “Sometimes, I hear her voice like it was yesterday,” Mrs. Weissberger stated.

Ela's painting

Though using names was not allowed and everyone was referred to by a number, Friedl told her students, “Children, you are not numbers. You have names.” Friedl encouraged her students to sign their names on all their work. It was an affirmation of freedom.

Mrs. Weissberger also pulled out a yellow felt cut-out and held it up in front of us. It was her original Jewish star. The only time she didn’t have to wear it was while performing Brundibár. She now calls it her “lucky star.”

Ela with Star

We finished our conversation with a question-and-answer session. Then, we headed into the auditorium, and with Mrs. Weissberger watching, we ran scenes from Friedl and Brundibár, accompanied by the orchestra for the first time.

A group of us spoke with Mrs. Weissberger a little more after lunch. Several people asked her about their characters in Friedl. Since she knew them in real life, her words were invaluable. She also showed us copies of illustrations by children in Terezín. One drawing by Mrs. Weissberger herself depicted a girl from Holland. Over her rendition of a Dutch bonnet, there was another set of lines. They were Friedl’s corrections. It gave me chills.

After our conversation, we ran Friedl and Brundibár in costume twice, with the staff giving notes on what to fix or improve. We were sweating and exhausted by the end, but Dr. Brightman had words of encouragement for us: Maestro James Conlon, LA Opera Music Director, had sent us all a letter. He wished us a wonderful performance and thanked us for participating in Opera Camp.  “Through (Mrs. Weissberger), and through the music of Hans Krása, you are connected to those children who performed Brundibár at Terezín 70 years ago,” he wrote. “I believe that you sing for yourselves, for each other, and for them as well. Someday, I hope you will share stories of this experience with your own children and grandchildren.”

On Saturday morning, the day of the first two performances, we warmed up and went over a few rough spots. Time soon ran out, though, and the audience started to line up outside. We retreated backstage and the house opened. Soon, places were called, and the performance began.

Brundibar cheese

We danced and sang, leapt and laughed, sweated and strained. After fifty minutes of sashaying, lunging, box-stepping, and marching, the orchestra hit the triumphant final note. The audience swept us up in loud applause, and as we bowed, we broke out into smiles—we had done it. Our production’s Cat led the original Cat onstage, and we all sat down to hear her speak. Mrs. Weissberger shared with the audience that this year marked the 70th anniversary of Brundibár’s first performance in Terezín. She went on to tell them about her experiences, just as she had with us. Joining hands with her, we rose to sing the Victory March once more. The next performance followed the same pattern. Completely exhausted, we straggled home.

The Cats

The next day, we arrived, ready for our final two performances. Our director Eli Villanueva reminded us of the 700 years of stage tradition that came before us. Everything we do is “either honoring what they have built or disrespecting it.” In the next two performances, I hope we made him proud.

As usual, Mrs. Weissberger finished the performance with a speech. In it, she recounted a special memory. Friedl would lead the children to the window, which offered a view of the mountains. She would say, “Children, look out. It’s a beautiful day.” Mrs. Weissberger’s voice grew meditative as she went on. “And Terezín is surrounded by mountains. ‘The sun is above those mountains. But what is important is what is beyond those mountains. Beyond those mountains is hope, hope that you will survive.’” Mrs. Weissberger smiled. “Here I am. I survived.”

Ela during performance

We sang the Victory March one last time with Mrs. Weissberger. Then, we bowed, retreated offstage, and hung up our costumes for the last time. While exchanging hugs, phone numbers, and goodbyes, we headed upstairs to the lawn for a little cast party.

Each of us received a goodbye present. As we munched on cake and other delicious desserts, we took a look at the gifts: a mounted group photograph and a copy of the program. On the program was a note from Mrs. Weissberger herself.

“Remember me and my friends
With love Ela
Cat from TEREZÍN”

She did sign her name.

Muse and Ellie

 


Falling in Love with Opera:
Free Performances for High School Students

Our favorite high school blogger, Muse Lee, returns to LA Opera's blog to talk about her experience with our LA Opera 90012 program for high school students. This program provides a free mini-subscription for students and their parents/guardians. 


Whenever I meet new people, one of the first things I say about myself is that opera is the love of my life. 99% of the time, though, my new friends think I’m joking. I hear what they aren’t saying, and it’s exactly what I used to believe: Opera is for the elderly. Opera is for the wealthy elite. Opera is boring, and it’s in strange languages, and it’s the pastime of pretentious snobs...

Three years ago, I started to change my mind. My teacher had raved about LA Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Ring. Just out of curiosity, I got the most inexpensive seats possible and went. She had told me that the Ring was a series, but she hadn’t informed me that it totaled 16 hours. Let’s just say that after the final curtain call, I was practically running out of the theater. In the weeks after, though, I couldn’t stop thinking about the experience. There was a lingering aftertaste that was impossible to ignore. I wanted to explore opera further. However, I had no idea how to take the next step, or even what the next step was. How could a fourteen-year-old enter the remote, grown-ups’ world of opera?

Ring photo

The answer eventually came: LA Opera’s program for high school students, LA Opera 90012. Through an essay competition, the program provides a pair of tickets for each participant and his or her guardian to four operas in the season. Though that alone got me excited, I had no idea that the program would be so much more than just free tickets.

ticket table

Firstly, there’s the Facebook page, where we talk about the operas, share classical music jokes, and play trivia games. Then, there are the opera events themselves. There’s more challenging trivia at the ticket distribution table, and sometimes, there are even dress-up opportunities. For the opera Cinderella, we all arrived at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion dressed as princes and princesses, and for a few hours, we let the music usher us into a completely different world. It was almost like an elaborate game of make-believe.

Muse and Mom

LA Opera 90012 also gave me an operatic partner-in-crime: my mom. Among my family and friends, I used to be the only opera nut, so no one really understood my “fan-girling.” LA Opera 90012 gave me a chance to share opera with my mom, and these days, she comes with me to many events. While I’m not sure if she’s a mega-fan yet, I’m happy to say that she nods off much less. Plus, all the operas we’ve seen together have led to many interesting conversations, as well as a bunch of inside jokes that no one else understands.

Romeo

As for me, LA Opera 90012 soon began seeping into my daily life. I started seeing opera everywhere I turned. After swooning over the opera Roméo et Juliette, I could read the play in English class without cringing. Since Latin and Italian vocabulary are so similar, I could sometimes get away with listening to arias instead of studying the nights before tests. Learning European history became more exciting because I could link historical events to opera plots.

table trivia

Above all, LA Opera 90012 showed me that despite what all the stereotypes may say—boring, pointless, foreign—opera is still relevant. The stories of the operas mirror our emotions, our relationships, our dreams. In the two seasons that I have participated in the program, many of the operas’ protagonists have been around our age: the hero and heroine in Roméo et Juliette, Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly (the opera that inspired Miss Saigon), the title character in Cinderella. Like us, they struggle with societal expectations, inexperience…and of course, angry parents! When I watch opera, I see works that are for and about us. We are the new audience. None of the stereotypes will be true unless we make them.

Muse and Sarvia

Maybe opera will bore you out of your mind, or maybe you’ll fall in love with it instantly. Maybe, like me, you’ll have to see a couple of operas before the art form starts growing on you. You’ll never know unless you try it. LA Opera 90012 is the perfect chance to do so.

Visit the LA Opera 90012 page for more information and how to apply. Applicants will need to write an essay completing the phrase, “I would like to attend the opera because...”  The deadline to apply is October 22, 2013.
Questions?  Contact us at 213.972.3157 or educom@laopera.org.


Magic Flute: Tech Behind-the-Scenes

This production of Magic Flute marks the first time in opera that all physical scenery has been entirely replaced with video projections. 

Magic Flute Pamina

Pamina stands on a tiny revolving door platform that pivots out of the wall that serves as a projection screen. She is harnessed and buckled into the wall.  Monostatos stands on the first level of the stage. All other scenic elements are video projections. 

Magic Flute Stage Spike Marks

Different color tapes are used for “spike” marks. These spike marks serve as a road map to indicate the position of sets and props and performers. The integration of these elements is critical in a production as intricate as this Magic Flute with nearly one thousand video animation cues. 

Magic Flute Spike Tape

The yellow “Ts” are overall placements for where the performers stand for many of the projections.  There are a number of other different colored spikes for various performer and prop placements. 

Magic Flute Video Projections

The video animation is not one complete movie that plays from beginning to end.  It is composed of layers of separate clips. All clips are stored on a powerful computer (media server) and the stage manager, while watching the visuals and following the music, “calls” these cues accordingly to a projectionist. The projectionist then pushes a “go” button which executes the cue sequences. All of this is projected through one 18,000 lumen hi-definition projector located in a booth at the back of the orchestra level seating.

The video is mixed live for every performance because every performance is different based on the musical tempi of the conductor, orchestra and singers. Thus no two productions are exactly the same. 

While Magic Flute is on stage and show-ready, Falstaff is stored in the wings until the next performance of that production. It takes three hours to completely transform the stage from one of these productions to the other, ready for curtain. 

Magic Flute with Falstaff Backstage



LA Opera Announces 2014/15 Season

(Los Angeles, CA) January 14, 2014 – General Director Plácido Domingo announced LA Opera’s 2014/15 season, created in collaboration with Music Director James Conlon and President and CEO Christopher Koelsch. The upcoming season will include six mainstage productions, with 41 performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Additional performances will take place in other venues through an expansion of the Company's Off Grand initiative. The season will open on September 13, 2014, and will run through June 14, 2015.

“We have created several exciting projects for LA Opera's new season," said Mr. Domingo. "I’m especially thrilled to perform along with James Conlon in the season-opening La Traviata, our fourth opera—and our third Verdi opera—together in Los Angeles. Our mainstage season features works by composers of six nationalities that trace the course of operatic history for more than 300 years, including adaptations of Beaumarchais’ three Figaro plays retold in three different operatic genres: classical, bel canto and contemporary. I am also very pleased to expand the Off Grand series with three very interesting productions that truly show off the striking diversity of the operatic experience. I think that our audiences will love what we have to show them.”

"Our 2014/15 season is designed to offer our audiences a broad balance of great opera written over the last 200 years: a baroque opera, an 18th-century Mozart masterpiece, a bel cantocomedy and a middle-period Verdi work as well as magnificent operas from both the early and the late 20th century," said Mr. Conlon. "The artistic flexibility of the company in presenting works in Italian, Spanish, English and Hungarian, with an orchestra and chorus capable of passing fluently from one style to another, marks an impressive artistic trajectory which we can celebrate. La Traviata and The Barber of Seville happened to be the first two operas I saw as a child, slightly over 50 years ago. I am particularly looking forward to conducting both of these beloved works, collaborating with Plácido and Marta Domingo in La Traviata as well as conducting all three parts of the Beaumarchais Trilogy."

La Traviata Opens New Season
The season opens with a revival of LA Opera's 2006 production of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata (September 13–28, 2014), conducted by James Conlon and directed by Marta Domingo. Plácido Domingo returns as Giorgio Germont, a role he performed at the Metropolitan Opera last year. La Traviata will star soprano Nino Machaidze as Violetta.

Innovative Director Barrie Kosky Returns to L.A.
From October 25 through November 15, 2014, a strikingly theatrical pairing of
 Dido and Aeneas and Bluebeard’s Castle (October 25 – November 15, 2014) will bring together two masterpieces, written more than two centuries apart, that explore the fine line between devotion and obsession. Staged by Barrie Kosky, director of LA Opera’s 2013 production of The Magic Flute, the double-bill begins with the Company premiere of Dido and Aeneas, a 1688 masterpiece by English composer Henry Purcell, in which a queen loses her heart to a man who abruptly abandons her. Bluebeard’s Castle is a 1918 opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, inspired by the famous story by Charles Perrault. The operas will be conducted bySteven Sloane.

Celebrated Opera by Composer Daniel Catán Returns
LA Opera will next present Florencia en el Amazonas (November 22 – December 20, 2014) by the late Mexican-born composer Daniel Catán, whose final opera Il Postino was premiered in Los Angeles in 2010. Inspired by the writings of Gabriel García Márquez, the opera paints an intoxicating portrait of the transformative nature of love. It will feature Chilean soprano Verónica Villarroel as Florencia Grimaldi, a famous prima donna who returns to her Brazilian homeland in search of the great love of her life. Grant Gershon, LA Opera’s Resident Conductor, will conduct a revised and updated revival of a celebrated production by Francesca Zambello that was first presented by LA Opera in 1997.

LA Opera Launches Figaro Unbound: Culture, Power and Revolution at Play
The second half of the season will be devoted to operas based on plays by one of France's greatest playwrights. The adventures of Figaro, originally told in a series of three stage comedies by French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, have captivated generations of music lovers. Operatic adaptations of the first two plays, The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, are repertoire staples, and composer John Corigliano incorporated plot elements from the third play into his 1991 opera The Ghosts of Versailles. With this "Figaro Trilogy"—LA Opera’s presentation of three Figaro operas in one season, all conducted by James Conlon—audiences have the rare opportunity to follow the complete antics of Figaro, Count Almaviva and Rosina. The trilogy will be accompanied by Figaro Unbound: Culture, Power and Revolution at Play, a three-month celebration of the revolutionary spirit and the legacy of Beaumarchais. With a variety of programming for all ages, Figaro Unbound will investigate the ongoing relevance of Figaro and the Beaumarchais trilogy, as well as the many ways the arts can impact social change.

“I am looking forward to the robust conversations that will be engendered by Figaro Unboundand the programming of three different operas based on the Beaumarchais plays," said Mr. Koelsch. "It’s a great opportunity for us to reassert the role of the opera house as a center of intellectual and artistic debate, and to explore the many ways that the arts have influenced history.”

The "Figaro Trilogy"

  • The first opera presented in the "Figaro Trilogy" will be John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles (February 7 – March 1, 2015). Described as a “grand opera buffa,” the opera premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 1991. The long-awaited West Coast premiere will be conducted by Mr. Conlon and directed by Darko Tresnjak. The cast will feature soprano Patricia Racette as Marie Antoinette and Broadway legend Patti LuPone as the Turkish entertainer Samira.
  • Rossini’s razor-sharp musical wit glints through every scene of The Barber of Seville, one of opera's most delicious comedies (February 28 – March 22, 2015). James Conlonconducts a top-notch cast, led by the Figaro of Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov, who made his LA Opera debut in 2013 as Papageno in The Magic Flute. The production, from Madrid's Teatro Real, was created by Spanish stage director Emilio Sagi.
  • LA Opera’s mainstage season concludes with one of Mozart’s greatest masterpieces, The Marriage of Figaro (March 21 – April 12, 2015), conducted by Mr. Conlon. The cast includes South African soprano Pretty Yende returning as Susanna after her sensational 2013 Company debut as Micaëla in Carmen. An ageless message of love and forgiveness,The Marriage of Figaro returns in one of LA Opera’s signature productions, created by director Ian Judge.

Sondra Radvanovsky Returns in Recital
LA Opera’s season at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will also include a recital by one of the most celebrated artists of our time, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, on November 8, 2014. In addition to recent Los Angeles appearances in the title roles of Suor Angelica (2008) and Tosca (2013), the soprano has enjoyed triumphs in Norma, Don Carlo and Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera, inUn Ballo in Maschera at La Scala, and in Aida in Munich, Barcelona and Chicago.

LA Opera Off Grand Presents Two L.A. Premieres
The LA Opera Off Grand initiative was developed to expand on traditional ideas of the operatic experience by experimenting with performance spaces, creative artists new to the genre and a variety of musical styles. Three Off Grand productions will be presented during the 2014/15 season.

  • Free performances of a community opera for families, Noah’s Flood by Benjamin Britten, will be conducted by James Conlon and performed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in March 2015
  • A mash-up of opera and film, Hercules vs. Vampires synchronizes an operatic score by composer Patrick Morganelli, performed live by members of LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, with the spectacular visuals of Mario Bava's cult fantasy film Hercules in the Haunted World. Presented in partnership with American Cinematheque, performances will take place at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in April 2015.
  • The West Coast premiere of Dog Days by composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek, will be presented in partnership with REDCAT, where it will be performed in June 2015. Hailed by The New York Times as one of the greatest operas of our time, the work incorporates elements of opera, musical theater and rock-infused concert music. Dog Days is the first production in a multi-year partnership with Beth Morrison Projects.

For more information about the Off Grand initiative, visit www.LAOpera.org/OffGrand.

Building on New Audience Initiatives
A number of audience development programs continue to enable a broader spectrum of the Los Angeles community to experience LA Opera performances. These include the Community Circle, a seating initiative in which at least 200 seats are set aside at every performance for students, senior centers and underserved groups to attend at minimal (or no) cost. The Domingo Family Program features ticket packages with discounts for children so that families can experience family-friendly performances together.

LA Opera Board Chairman Marc I. Stern Comments
“The year 2013 was enormously successful for LA Opera, both artistically and financially," said Marc I. Stern, Chairman of LA Opera's Board of Directors. "Much of the credit for that goes to our dynamic Board of Directors and steadfast supporters for their incredible generosity and their wholehearted support for Plácido Domingo’s artistic vision. Our recent success will be hard to top, but I think that LA Opera’s 2014/15 season will be one of our most memorable yet.”

Subscription Ticket Information
Season subscription tickets for the 2014/15 season are now available, starting at $102 for all six mainstage operas. For further information, please visit LA Opera’s website at www.LAOpera.org or call LA Opera’s Box Office at 213.972.8001. 

All programs, artists and dates are subject to change.



Thais: Tech Behind-the-Scenes

If you look closely at the Eros statuettes in Act 2 of Thais you will notice that there are actually two different Eros statuettes. One beautiful shiny Eros sits on a pedestal in the gold room in Scene 1 and the other tarnished and worn-looking Eros (a breakaway prop) gets thrown to the ground in Scene 2.

The breakaway Eros arrived with the set. The gold room Eros is an interpretative sculpture inspired by Hypnos the god of sleep and created by our Resident Lead Scenic Artist Tony Reveles. The statuettes have different appearances to signify the passage of time and the distinctly different emotions and actions of the two scenes. 

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

Using the original Eros statuette as a guide, Tony begins by researching images and then sculpting the head from modeling clay to get a feel for the figure’s dimensions. 

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

Detail of the finished clay model

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

In the next step Tony takes the dimensions from the clay sculpture and free-form draws the figure onto the foam block. 

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

He carves away at the block carefully using precise dimensions from his primary sculpt. 

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

Tony uses precision tools to further detail his final interpretation of the sculpture.  Note the original breakaway Eros head on the right.

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

A coating of acrylic medium is added to seal the porous material prior to the application of the final surface treatment.

Thais Eros sculpture LA Opera Tony Reveles

The figure receives a scenic treatment of aged patina and gold leaf. This is the finished Eros sculpture in the gold room Act 2 Scene1.