With the recent opening of the new portion of the Metro Expo Line, getting to Downtown LA is easier than ever. Writer Sarah Spitz found out how easy when she and a friend took the train to see the May 20 matinee of La Bohéme. In her first person report (originally published in the Santa Monica Daily Press, she shares how easy and convenient it was to take the train to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Read on…
by Sarah Spitz
My friend and I managed to avoid a zoo of a completely different sort on Sunday, as we made our way to downtown L.A. during a day of apocalyptic predictions about traffic. Three sports playoffs, a bike race and a parade were all scheduled for the same day, and rather than tempt fate and try to drive, let alone park downtown with all the street closures, we decided to take the Metro Rail to see “La Bohéme” at L.A. Opera.
Save these tips for future use, they’ll save you time and frustration. The Expo line runs every 12 minutes or so. Pick it up at Jefferson and La Cienega boulevards (parking is free) and ride to the end at Metro Center/Seventh Street. Then grab a Red or Purple line toward Union Station, hop off at the Civic Center exit, and walk two blocks — OK, I admit it, uphill — from First and Hill streets to Grand Avenue. Maybe they’ll put in a mini-funicular some day.
We bought day passes for only $5 (parking alone at the Music Center is $9), left the Westside at 11:12 a.m., arrived at around 11:40 a.m., took an eight-block walk to Cole’s for lunch (they still claim the mantle of the original French dip and I believe them since the restaurant’s been there since 1908), walked back to Metro Center and arrived at the Music Center at 1:20 p.m., with plenty of time for a leisurely drink on the plaza before the 2 p.m. matinee.
And here’s the best part: no hassle with the traffic getting out of the parking lot, and the walk to the Civic Center station is downhill from The Music Center!
Oh, how was the opera? Well, come on, it’s “La Bohéme!” One of the most recognizable, tragic romantic stories, popularized on film (Baz Luhrmannn’s spectacular “Moulin Rouge”) and in countless opera productions, and this one is sumptuous.
How can you go wrong when a real-life husband and wife play the lovers? Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello are as lovely to look at as they are to hear, and the supporting cast is stellar.
As Musetta, Janai Brugger stole the show. In March, she competed against 1,500 other singers to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and is a member of L.A. Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist program. And Artur Rucinski, making his L.A. Opera debut, as Musetta’s hot-headed jealous lover, Marcello, sings and acts the role to perfection.
Although I agree with New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley that standing ovations have become almost meaningless, this opera deserves the lengthy standing ovation it received. There are only three more performances through June 2; visit LAOpera.com
Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She reviews theatre for L.A. Opening Nights.