LA Opera Postpones Four Fall Productions; Announces New Digital Programming
Company seeks to Minimize Financial Impact to Artists and Staff
(Los Angeles) July 28, 2020 — LA Opera announced today that it is postponing four productions that were scheduled for later this year to the fall of 2021 due to concerns for artist and patron safety regarding COVID-19. The first half of LA Opera's 2020/21 season was originally scheduled to feature three mainstage productions (Il Trovatore, Tannhäuser and Cinderella) and one Off Grand feature (Get Out in Concert), with a total of 20 performances between September 26 and December 13. All of these performances have been rescheduled to take place in the first half of the 2021/22 season, with most of the originally cast performers returning for the new dates.
New programming for fall of 2020 will be presented digitally, although the company does have tentative plans for in-person performances in outdoor spaces, dependent upon how COVID-19 restrictions develop in the next few months. Fall 2020 programming includes:
- a virtual gala to celebrate LA Opera’s 35th Anniversary and raise funds for the LA Opera Relief Fund;
- a livestream of The Anonymous Lover (L'Amant Anonyme) by French composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a prominent Black composer in 18th-century France;
- and a series of seven operatic digital shorts, including newly commissioned works.
LA Opera hopes to resume performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in early 2021 as previously planned, beginning with Mozart's Don Giovanni, opening on January 30, 2021. The company also plans to present its cancelled productions of Pelléas et Mélisande and The Marriage of Figaro, originally scheduled for May and June 2020, respectively, in a future season.
The company has been engaged in ongoing conversations with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) that together represent the nearly 300 artists and musicians that had been contracted for the postponed productions in order to help curb the financial impact of the postponements.
LA Opera will provide advance payments to principal singers impacted by the postponement. The compensation for these nearly 20 singers, who have individual representation, varies according to their personal circumstances and needs. LA Opera is working to find future engagements for the three singers who were unable to rearrange their schedules to accommodate the postponements and plans to provide advance payments, once those agreements are settled.
“We realize the difficulties these postponements engender for these valued artists and artisans and wanted to create both some measure of economic protection for them and give them assurances of future work,” said President and CEO Christopher Koelsch.
As with all performing arts organizations, the pandemic has placed enormous pressure on the finances of LA Opera. The toll from cancelled productions and performances currently stands at nearly $9 million in earned and contributed revenue for the 2019/20 fiscal year alone. With ongoing uncertainty regarding when performances can resume, the company is bracing for additional revenue losses between $13 and $22 million for the 2020/21 season—for a total potential revenue loss of anywhere between $21 million to $31 million. The company is working to reduce these losses through fundraising and cost reductions.
Koelsch underscored that contributions to the LA Opera Relief Fund are critical for helping the company and its artists, artisans and staff withstand the economic fallout from the closures as a result of the pandemic. “We are exceedingly grateful that our LA Opera family have contributed to—and continue to support—the LA Opera Relief Fund. The company and our artists are relying on this support, for without ticket revenue, contributions are our only source of income. We are doing all we can to ensure the company can return with its artistic resources fully intact when we are allowed to perform again before a live audience. It has therefore become imperative that we expand the LA Opera Relief Fund and reach out to the broader community who value the essential role the arts play in the life of our region."
Despite the postponements, many staff members will continue to work to produce LA Opera At Home digital programming and to support administrative functions such as fundraising, communications, finance and more. Payroll reductions have been implemented for these employees largely through reduced work hours and pay cuts, although layoffs of six full-time administrative personnel were necessary, and the company will be implementing rolling furloughs for box office staff once work slows. “LA Opera remains committed to ensuring that the burden of reductions is shared across the company so that artists, staff and the institutional infrastructure have the support and resources needed to return to full production when permissible,” explained Koelsch.
Updated schedule for postponed operas
- Verdi's Il Trovatore will now be performed from September 18 through October 10, 2021, conducted by Music Director James Conlon. Guanqun Yu will replace Angel Blue as Leonora and Raehann Bryce-Davis will sing all performances as Azucena, a role she originally shared with Ekaterina Semenchuk. The remainder of the cast remains unchanged: Gregory Kunde as Manrico, Vladimir Stoyanov as Count di Luna, and Morris Robinson as Ferrando.
- Wagner's Tannhäuser has been rescheduled for October 16 through November 6, 2021, conducted by James Conlon. Original cast members Issachah Savage (Tannhäuser), Sara Jakubiak (Elisabeth), Yulia Matochkina (Venus) and Lucas Meachem (Wolfram) will all return, joined by Morris Robinson, who replaces John Relyea as Hermann.
- Rossini's Cinderella (La Cenerentola) will be performed from November 20 through December 12, 2021, conducted by Roberto Abbado. While the Cinderella cast will remain as originally announced, led by Serena Malfi (Angelina/Cinderella), Levy Sekgapane (Ramiro), Alessandro Corbelli (Magnifico), Rodion Pogossov (Dandini), and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Alidoro), the previously scheduled Stefan Herheim production of that opera is unavailable for the new performance dates. The director and production team for the Los Angeles performances will be announced later.
Get Out in Concert (with composer Michael Abels conducting the LA Opera Orchestra and the DC6 Singers in live performances of the "gospel horror" soundtrack) has been rescheduled for October 30 and 31, 2021. It will take place as part of LA Opera’s Off Grand programming at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown LA.
Please visit LAOpera.org for complete information about casting and performance dates. Patrons who purchased tickets for these performances will be contacted by LA Opera regarding the postponements.
Packages and single tickets for the spring 2021 operas (Don Giovanni, Breaking the Waves, Aida and Off Grand productions) are on sale to the public now. Tickets for fall 2021 productions (Il Trovatore, Tannhäuser, Cinderella and Get Out) are available as part of a package only. Tickets are fully refundable in the event of COVID-related concerns and can be purchased at LAOpera.org or by calling 213.972.8001.
New Fall Programming
• Bologne’s The Anonymous Lover — Composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was the son of an enslaved African woman and a French plantation owner in the French colony of Guadeloupe. He became the first prominent Black classical composer in 18th-century Europe. His prodigal talents were recognized by Marie Antoinette and he is known to have inspired Mozart. This 1780 comic romance, his only surviving opera, tells the story of Léontine, a young widow disillusioned with love. For months, she has received a steady stream of letters and gifts from an unknown man professing his undying passion. After hiding his true feelings for nearly a decade, Valcour, her closest confidant, finally reveals that he himself is Léontine’s secret admirer. A one-time performance on November 14, directed by Bruce Lemon, Jr. (of Watts Village and Cornerstone Theater Company), and in a socially distanced stage setting, the opera will be conducted by James Conlon, and will feature artists Tiffany Townsend, Robert Stahley, Gabriela Flores, Michael J. Hawk, Alaysha Fox and Jacob Ingbar singing the roles of Léontine, Valcour, Dorothée, Ophémon, Jeannette and Colin, respectively, accompanied by the LA Opera Orchestra. The Anonymous Lover will be produced and live-streamed in partnership with the Colburn School. Viewers will watch from the comfort of their own home while the opera is performed live in the Colburn School’s Zipper Hall. The Colburn School will concurrently and collaboratively engage in an academic and performance-based exploration of the works and legacy of Joseph Bologne.
“I speak for all of my colleagues who work on the stage and in the pit in affirming that our first instinct is to perform, and that we have missed doing so, and of connecting with audiences through music, in this difficult time,” said Music Director James Conlon. “I am gratified that in producing The Anonymous Lover, we will begin to rebuild those connections, and of course, to provide some meaningful, challenging and rewarding work for our musicians and young artists. This is especially true in conducting rarely heard and rediscovered works like this extraordinary work by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.”
• Digital Shorts — LA Opera has commissioned or adapted a series of short vocal works from some of today’s most sought-after composers, including Du Yun, Gabriela Lena Frank, Tamar-kali, Missy Mazzoli, Tyshawn Sorey, David Lang and Matthew Aucoin, pairing them with talented visual artists including animators, experimental filmmakers and choreographers. The videos will be released throughout the fall and early winter and will include works such as:
- an animated adaptation of a suite from Du Yun’s one-act opera Zolle;
- flamenco choreographer Irene Rodríguez’s interpretation of Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s Las cinco lunas de Lorca for countertenor and chorus;
- a short film of “The Sodbuster’s Aria” from the opera Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli, directed by James Darrah;
- and an exploration of the death of Carmen, The Opera Murder Club: Jane Doe by writer-director Lila Palmer and composer Tamar-kali, featuring mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis.
35th Anniversary Gala: A Virtual Celebration
On October 15, fans and supporters of LA Opera will gather across the country virtually to commemorate the company’s 35th anniversary. The digital gala will feature appearances from opera superstars Angel Blue, Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Ana María Martínez, Angela Meade and Russell Thomas, among others, as we all collectively reflect on the company’s history and the future ahead. The LA Opera Orchestra under the baton of James Conlon and the LA Opera Chorus led by Resident Conductor Grant Gershon will also join the celebration with carefully curated virtual performances. Tickets will be available to the public, and proceeds from the “35th Anniversary Gala: A Virtual Celebration” will benefit the LA Opera Relief Fund.
About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, especially given the extraordinary challenges of the time. As LA Opera awaits its cue to return to the stage with world-class productions in person, the company is offering a multitude of opera content including live recitals, opera broadcasts and learning opportunities via its LA Opera at Home digital offerings, which has accumulated over 630,000 views since its launch on March 17, 2020. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period through the LA Opera Relief Fund. Those wanting to support LA Opera can visit LAOpera.org/donate.
LA Opera Media Contact
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LA Opera is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.