Show artwork for Highway 1, USA / The Dwarf

Highway 1, USA / The Dwarf Highway 1, USA / The Dwarf

Composed by William Grant Still / Alexander Zemlinsky

Conducted by James Conlon

February 24 – March 17

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

A DOUBLE FEATURE OF ONE-ACT GEMS

WATCH TRAILERS

LOVE IS THEIR REFUGE - Highway 1, USA 

A Historic LA Premiere, Highway 1, USA by trailblazer William Grant Still, hailed as “the Dean of African-American Composers.” Norman Garrett and Nicole Heaston star as a hardworking Black couple determined to build a better life, whose years of sacrifice turn out to be misguided. Chaz'men Williams-Ali portrays the ne'er-do-well brother who squanders every opportunity granted to him. Conducted by James Conlon, this new staging (only the second-ever professional production of this heartwarming opera) is helmed by visionary director Kaneza Schaal and production designer Christopher Myers, reuniting after their work on our stunning 2022 production of Omar.

LOVE IS HIS RUIN - The Dwarf 

An Impossible Romance, a gothic tale of one-sided love in a decadent Spanish court. Oscar Wilde’s fable is brought to life through a lush and romantic score conducted by James Conlon. Tenor Rodrick Dixon stars in the title role opposite audience favorites Erica Petrocelli and Kristinn Sigmundsson as we present Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf. Last staged at LA Opera in 2008 to critical acclaim, Tony-winning director Darko Tresnjak conjures a royally opulent production, with costumes from fellow Tony Award winner Linda Cho. 

More about Highway 1, USA

Learn more about this exciting new production in this video with Director Kaneza Schaal:

“Still’s one-act stunner... Though stylish, the music is unabashedly approachable. If played more widely, Still’s aesthetic might attract modern-opera skeptics who have rejected works from the modernist or Minimalist camps that dominate the 20th-century repertoire currently performed in America.”

The New York Times

More about The Dwarf
The Dwarf's Autobiographical Origins: Unrequited love is an experience that most of us have gone through. The Dwarf was inspired by Zemlinsky's relationship with a fellow composer.. Read More

“[Dixon] clearly loves to inhabit the vocally demanding role of the Dwarf, which he performs to mesmerizing effect.”

Seen and Heard International

Get More with a DYO Package. Design-Your-Own Package with 3 or more shows starting at $56. Customize which shows and dates you attend plus receive added benefits. DYO PACKAGE

Artists: Highway 1, USA

Mary
Nicole Heaston
Bob
Norman Garrett
Nate
Chaz'men Williams-Ali
Aunt Lou
Deborah Nansteel
Sheriff
Alan Williams
Conductor
James Conlon
Director
Kaneza Schaal
Production Design
Christopher Myers
Co-Scenic Designer
Amy Rubin
Co-Scenic Designer
Cheyanne Williams
Costumes
Charlese Antoinette Jones
Lighting
Pablo Santiago
Chorus
Jeremy Frank

Artists: The Dwarf

The Dwarf
Rodrick Dixon
Donna Clara
Erica Petrocelli
Don Estoban
Kristinn Sigmundsson
Ghita
Emily Magee
First Maid
Kathleen O'Mara
Second Maid
Deepa Johnny
Third Maid
Sarah Saturnino
First Companion
Tiffany Townsend
Second Companion
Madeleine Lyon
Conductor
James Conlon
Director
Darko Tresnjak
Scenery
Ralph Funicello
Costumes
Linda Cho
Lighting
Pablo Santiago
Chorus
Jeremy Frank
Choreographer
Bill Burns

Read the synopsis

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Synopsis

Highway 1, USA
Bob and Mary have worked hard and sacrificed a lot in order to put Nate, Bob's younger brother, through college. Mary dreams of the life they will have once Nate's education is completed. Bob explains that according to his mother's deathbed wish, they must support Nate until he has established himself financially. Mary tells Aunt Lou of her hatred for Nate.

After finishing his education, Nate remains idle for a year, living with Bob and Mary and contributing nothing. One morning Bob expresses his doubt that Nate will ever get a job. Nate comes in after Bob has left and commences to woo Mary. Mary laughs at him and confirms her love for Bob. Nate becomes enraged and stabs her.

Mary's screams bring Bob running. Thinking that Mary is dead, Bob takes the blame in order to protect his brother. Mary regains consciousness and names Nate as her assailant. As he is led away, Nate pleads with Bob to help him. Ignoring his pleas, Bob kneels by Mary and promises her a brighter future.

The Dwarf
It is the 18th birthday of Donna Clara, the Spanish Infanta. Don Estoban, the court chamberlain, supervises as the servants prepare a sumptuous birthday party. The Infanta’s favorite maid, Ghita, marvels at the splendor of the decorations and gifts. Don Estoban tells the maids about some of the fabulous gifts. Among them, a Sultan has sent the Infanta a dwarf who has never seen himself in a mirror; he believes himself to be a handsome knight. The maids hurry to cover the mirrors before the gift ceremony begins.

After the Infanta and her retinue have taken their places for the celebration, the dwarf is brought in. Gazing at the Infanta’s beauty, the dwarf sings an impassioned song of love. The Infanta tells the dwarf that he may choose any of the ladies in the court as a wife, and the dwarf tells her that the only one he could love is the Infanta herself. The Infanta sends her guests away, and listens intently as the dwarf improvises a story about rescuing her from a dragon.

Ghita tries unsuccessfully to bring the dwarf, back to reality. His beautiful dream finally collapses when he inadvertently uncovers a mirror and suddenly finds himself face to face with his reflection. When the Infanta returns, he begs her to tell him that that she loves him. The Infanta cruelly spurns him. The dwarf falls dying at her feet, as the Infanta hurries back into the ballroom to dance.

 

Highway 1, USA is performed in English with English subtitles. The Dwarf is performed in German with English subtitles.

Approximate running time: approximately two hours and 50 minutes, including one intermission

Click here to read James Conlon's essay on the double bill.

Read the digital program here.

Audio description will be available for the March 3 matinee.

Production made possible by generous support from
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, GRoW @ Annenberg

Founding and ongoing leadership support for the Recovered Voices project provided by
Marilyn Ziering and the Ziering Family Foundation

Principal underwriting support provided by a generous anonymous gift

Special additional support from
Thurmond Smithgall and The Lanie & Ethel Foundation

With special appreciation to
Régina and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten

Special additional support for Highway 1, USA from
National Endowment for the Arts
OPERA America/Next Stage*

Kaneza Schaal’s direction of Highway 1, USA generously underwritten by a gift from
The Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Next Generation Artist Award

*The production of Highway 1, USA received funding from OPERA America’s Next Stage program, which were funded with gifts from OPERA America’s 50th Anniversary Campaign, including a leadership gift from Frayda B. Lindemann. Supplemental support for revisions was generously provided by the Mellon Foundation.

An original LA Opera production

Artwork for Highway 1, USA / The Dwarf
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2023/24 Season