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Blog entries tagged with opera

Quote of the day!

Gianni Sachi, Woody Allen, James Conlon and Saimir Pirgu

How the times change…from Woody Allen, director of LA Opera’s 2008 production of Gianni Schicchi, to promoting To Rome With Love opening in Los Angeles on Friday, June 29. In the film, Woody Allen plays an opera director crippled by his fear of death.  "I'm not anti–Los Angeles," Allen says today. "I couldn't live here because I don't like a place where I have to drive everyplace, and I don't like sunshine. But I love coming out here for a couple of days. I have a lot of friends here, and the town has, over the years, really come on very strong. When I first came out here years ago, you couldn't get a decent meal in Los Angeles. Now it's full of great restaurants, great museums; the opera's wonderful."

To read the entire article, visit LA Weekly.com.


Opera's Next Supercommittee

or: "How the LA Opera College Advisory Committee Prepares Young People to be the Next Generation of Opera-Lovers and Shows That The Company is Serious About a Very Modern Approach to Marketing Opera."

by Johannes Schmitt, LA Opera College Advisory Committee

In December 2011, I joined the inaugural LA Opera College Advisory Committee. Committee members are encouraged not only to be ambassadors for the art form, but also to act as sounding boards for LA Opera’s general strategy to engage and connect with a variety of audiences - many of them non-traditional. Most are potential opera-goers who have maybe attended a big musical (like Cats or Wicked), but have yet to be introduced to the pleasures of watching Don Giovanni brag about his promiscuity or hear Isolde mourn the loss of her lover Tristan.

Johannes Schmitt (pictured right) and a fellow LAO Commege Advisoty Committee member at the LA Times Festival of Books

I should note that I am neither a vocal student, nor performing arts professional (my background is in philosophy). I simply like opera in the way other people like knitting, baking cupcakes and watching NHL hockey games. Even though I recently went all the way to the Bay Area just to see John Adams' Nixon in China at San Francisco Opera (a rewarding experience), I usually don't travel around the country just to see the most hyped opera productions or stalk my favorite opera singers.  So why did someone like me, who simply likes opera, decide to join the College Advisory committee?

I think opera is not just a great art form (as we know from the new LA opera branding campaign, it is more than the sum of its (p)arts), but its special role in the arts raises a lot of interesting and sometimes challenging questions. I was and continue to be interested in the refreshingly pragmatic way in which LA Opera approaches these questions.

LAO College Advisory Committee working at the LA Times Festival of Books

For example, is the whole art form aesthetically past its prime? Are there ever going to be contemporary operas that parallel the great masterpieces of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century?  Does opera (unlike modern musical theater) resist innovation? And finally, is opera inherently elitist or bourgeois because opera subscriptions, just like expensive sports cars, tend to be associated with social status and prestige?

These questions seem daunting. But I think the answer can be very simple: The most effective way of showing that opera is not obsolete, irrelevant or elitist is getting new people - especially young people - from every zip code between Whittier and Westchester to be equally excited about new productions.

And a great way of getting young people excited about the arts is giving them an opportunity to experience them from the inside. That’s where LA Opera's College Advisory Committee comes in. Students gain insight into the carefully and meticulously managed operations required to produce an opera. They quickly learn to appreciate the hard work behind the seemingly effortless singing and acting. And they come to identify with their local opera company, which may make them more likely to be involved in their own (smaller-scale) community opera productions, volunteer their time for outreach campaigns and think about opera as a genre in new and creative ways.

LAO College Advisoty Committee with tenor Stephen Costello after LA Boheme Q&A

Like any other cause, opera needs to make an effort to recruit people who care about it. It is wrong to think that opera companies should not be concerned with recruiting (and also training) future stakeholders. Opera is not a sacred cow. The view that it is somehow blissfully immune to changing societal demands is as unfortunate as it is widespread.

On the bright side, just like we don't worry about other 'genres' of performing arts that are able to excite audiences (a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, say), we don't have to worry about the future of opera as long as it continues to draw new audiences. And just like other art forms, opera needs to be marketed intelligently. It needs fans, sponsors, subscribers, advocates, Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes. The leadership of the LA Opera College Advisory Committee does a great job of equipping young people with the tools (and the unforgettable moments) to share their personal stories and anecdotes about opera and spread the excitement. 'Hey, guess who I had a chat with last night? Mimi and Rodolfo from La Bohème!’  At the end of the day, that is what opera is all about: Great stories, experienced through music, and shared between generations of performers and audiences.


Why We Sing - LA Opera and City of Hope

Ashley Faatoalia at City of Hope

I've been fortunate enough to sing at several of the LA Opera's City of Hope concerts. While it's always an honor to participate as an artist, I have never received the response I did yesterday afternoon. 

Following the concert, I stayed outside the auditorium with my fellow artists to greet our audience. After several exchanges with people asking for photos, thanking us for coming, and asking about the company, I headed inside for a few photos with the ensemble. Just as I walked away, a lady approached me with tears in her eyes. She told me that she was a cancer patient receiving treatment on campus. She told me that things had not been easy, and that she almost didn't come to the concert. Then she took my hands and thanked me for "making time stop for a little while" and taking her mind off her illness. We hugged and I gave her my best wishes for recovery. 

Ashley Faatoalia at City of Hope

I don't share this often, but my father passed away in 2006 after a two year fight with pancreatic cancer. Whenever people ask who my heroes are, I always list him because he lived and fought against his disease for two years after the Doctors told him he'd be gone in a matter of weeks. I was raised by my mom, and my father and I didn't always have the closest relationship, but his illness brought us together in a strange way. I watched him have good days as well as awful ones. Even when he was at his worst, he found ways to take his mind off things (usually through laughter or music). One of my last memories with him is from my senior recital at Chapman University. He was clearly ill, the cancer was spreading, and he was not himself. In spite of all this he came and shared one of the most important musical events of my life with me and waited afterwards to hug me and tell me that I had done well. I cherish that moment. 

When this lady spoke to me so sincerely and openly, it touched me in a profound way and brought back memories of my dad. I feel proud to be a part of the Education and Commuity Programs department and the work that we do and blessed for the ability to change someone's day and make it a little brighter. 


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.


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.


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.


From a Penguin to an Octopus!

Our newest guest blogger, 12 year old Claire Johnson, joins us to blog about her experience with our Cathedral Project. This year we presented the world premiere production of Jonah and the Whale by Jack Perla and Velina Hasu Houston.

 Velvety brown on the outside, sequined on the inside...my costume!  During practice this week, Paloma and I were called behind the curtain to the fitting area.  Finally, we saw our outfits. The octopus hat was cozy and soft, I didn’t want to take it off.  There were no mirrors, so we had to use each other as a mirror. We both looked like real octopi!

Octopus in Costume

 

Saturday’s practice was different from all other practices.  When we arrived, we saw the orchestra unpacking instruments, the shiny handbells all laid out on a table, and the principal singers talking to each other.  I really wanted to stay and watch the excitement, but the sealife had to go upstairs.  Distracted, we reviewed our movements.  We could hear the instruments and singers rehearsing the first part of the show.  It sounded amazing!.  It wasn’t til after break that we got to go downstairs and do the sealife scene, whale included.  It looked like a real whale and I got to do my favorite thing, scaring the fish!

Near the end of our five hour practice we were relaxing, watching the end of the show, when Nathan, one of our animal directors, gave us new words to learn!  We sat on the ground in a group while Nathan read the words to us and we repeated them.  Singing these words on Monday will feel different because we will be in a new space…. the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.  And, this time I wont be a penguin like in Noah’s Flood, I will be an octopus!

 Jonah Sealife

Jonah and the Whale (photo by Robert Millard)


LA Opera 90012: Introducing Students to Opera

LA Opera 90012 invites students to enter a competition for the chance to win a mini subscription, for themselves and a chaperone, to see four operas for free. After completing the program, many students come back to participate as Ambassadors, helping to coordinate ticketing, hospitality and social media for all events. 

90012 Ambassadors

L-R: Muse Lee, Joshua Villareal, Desanka Ilic, Amanda Harris, Arianna Tarki

 

We asked last year's ambassadors to share stories about their experience with LA Opera 90012:

"Before I joined the LA Opera 90012 program, I saw opera as a museum display. Though it was beautiful and I yearned to touch it, we were nevertheless separated by a barrier of glass and time. Over my last three years in the program, LA Opera 90012 showed me that the whole of opera isn’t enclosed between the rise of the curtain and the final bow. It's in the eager faces of families as we distribute tickets and the excited shouting during a heated Opera Jeopardy round. It's in the thoughtful parent-child conversations during the car ride home, and the insightful online discussions, and the friendships made and the laughter and tears shared. During the 14/15 season of LA Opera 90012, we look forward to many more moments like these."
-Muse Lee, Lead Ambassador, 4th year participant.

 90012 Blog 2

Muse Lee and Madeleine Lew, 90012 participants

 

"Like chocolate lava cake a la mode, opera is dense to be sure, but immensely rich, luxurious, and rewarding. Once you scoop past the crust, a dream of warm, gooey splendor awaits. Opera never ceases to amaze me. Hundreds of years, people, rehearsals, man-hours and cups of tea all combine perfectly to create the master-pieces we see. It’s accessible as the day the ink on the manuscript dried if we approach it correctly. That is, with a bit of background knowledge, a good translation, and a love for beauty and life, anyone at any age in any time can feel what audience members of the past did. The art form is universal. Opera is the heart-break after knowing the one you love does not share your feelings. It is the giddiness of playing a prank. It’s the look in your lover’s dying eyes, the pure joy in your heart, the immense emptiness of your soul, and the very essence of your passion. I can only hope that every person in the world gets to humbly watch the human experience so masterfully illustrated as I do when I visit the opera. As such, I can’t wait to share it with amazing teens across my city this year."
- Amanda Harris, Senior Ambassador, 3rd year participant.

 90012 3

Ellie and Julie Johnson, 90012 Ambassador and chaperone

"Opera is expensive, and I am not a rich person.  If  LA Opera 90012 did not exist I would have never been able to experience the beauty that can only be seen in opera.  On Saturday, May 17th, 2014, this program allowed me to see an opera by Massenet called Thaïs.  Placido Domingo was performing, as well as many other wonderful opera singers. However, once Nino Machaidze stepped on the stage dressed in gold and light, a fiery passion was ignited in my soul. I wanted, no, I needed to be on that stage.  Since then, I have been dedicating my life to opera.  I became an Ambassador, auditioned  for Opera Camp, and found the best possible vocal teacher that would aid me on my journey.  Thaïs was my defining moment, which opera will yours be?"
 - Ellie Johnson, Ambassador, 2nd year participant. 

 

The application deadline is October 20, 2014, or until the program reaches capacity. More information can be found here.



Enjoy Yourself! A student's impression of Operalia

Guest blogger Ellie Johnson, a 10th grader and Amabassor in LA Opera’s 90012 program, shares her impression of this year's Operalia finale.


Opera Buddies 

L-R: Ellie Johnson, Muse Lee, Spencer Hart, Sarah Toutounchian

 

Like many 15 year olds, I love spending time with my friends gossiping and gushing about the latest episode of “Sherlock.”  However, I also love opera and watching opera competitions.  When I heard LA Opera was making tickets available for Opera Camp members to attend Operalia at a discounted price,  I literally died on the inside from happiness.  Immediately, I texted my two opera buddies.

When August 30th arrived, I kept looking at the clock to see if it was too early to start getting ready.  The car ride felt too long as I daydreamed about the greatest singers in the world.  Waiting outside of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I spotted one of my music teachers, Mrs. Manfredi.  As we exchanged simple chit chat and excited comments about the competition,  I learned this competition might never be in Los Angeles again.  It dawned on me this might be the only time I could see Operalia. LIVE. After finding Opera Camp buddies and reminiscing about the summer show, the bell rang for Operalia to start. I hurried over to my seat, through door 31.  

I wish I could write about my experience watching the competition, but it would take up at least 20 pages.  So, I will write about the singers I voted for:  Joshua Guerrero singing "Torna ai felici di" from Le Villi, and Amanda Woodbury singing "A vos jeux, mes amis"from Hamlet.

I’m sure Joshua does not remember me, but I performed with him in LA Opera’s community opera, Jonah and the Whale.  It was exciting to see a familiar face on stage. Once he took that first breath and started singing, I could hardly contain my excitement, because he was singing the exact song he performed in a Master Class I attended a year a half ago!  I was practically shoving the binoculars into my eye sockets so I could see his face.  

Sorry Joshua, but I have to say, I liked Amanda’s performance the most. Watching the emotion she brought onto stage is what I hope to bring every time I sing a role. Her quality and power are definitely one of a kind.  

Before the final winners were announced, we watched a video about Operalia that included interviews from past winners.  I will never forget what Placido Domingo told Joyce DiDonato before going on stage when she won in 1998… “Enjoy yourself!”  I did enjoy myself at my first Operalia, and I hope this isn’t my last.