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Jonah and the Whale

Conducted by James Conlon


LA Opera joins with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and several other community and school groups to present Jonah and the Whale, by composer Jack Perla and librettist Velina Hasu Houston. The opera will be conducted by LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, James Conlon and will be directed by  Eli Villanueva.

Following in the tradition of previous Cathedral Project productions, Jonah and the Whale will feature professional opera singers in the leading roles and members of the LA Opera Orchestra, performing along with a large group of community-based performers drawn from schools, churches, choirs and orchestras from every part of Los Angeles.


Production made possible with a generous grant from the
Dan Murphy Foundation

Special support also received from the
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs


There are currently no upcoming performances.

Performances of Jonah and the Whale will take place at The Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels, 555 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


Jonah and the Whale re-imagines the biblical hero’s struggle with God and faith, his reluctance to forgive, and ultimate enlightenment through the encouragement of a feisty chorus of krill and other sea-creatures met in the belly of the famous whale.

The Hebrew prophet Jonah sings praises to the Lord. The townspeople, who are righteous believers already, beseech him instead to minister to Israel’s enemies in Assyria.

This prospect fills Jonah with fear. His mother Margalit reminds him that love is more powerful than hate, and that he should look upon his enemies with compassion. Nevertheless, Jonah chooses to remain in Israel, where he will continue to preach the word of God.

Sarah, formerly betrothed to Jonah, has been taken from her homeland by the Assyrians as a prisoner of war. She dreams that Jonah will come to rescue her one day. Jonah, meanwhile, worries about Sarah’s fate and hopes that she hasn’t lost her faith.

The Voice of God calls out to Jonah, commanding him to go forth as a prophet to the wicked people of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, in order to save them from His destruction. Jonah decides to reject God’s calling, and flee Israel by sea.

Sailors go about their work, confident that the Lord will guide and protect them. Jonah has joined them on their ship, eager to begin a new life in distant lands. When a storm rises, Captain Mordecai grows concerned by the restless waves and wind. The sailors sense that this storm is different from any other that they have encountered, and they suspect that Jonah’s presence may have something to do with it. Captain Mordecai tries to calm their suspicions, but as the storm continues to grow in violence, the sailors question Jonah’s motives behind taking this journey. They cast lots in order to determine whose presence has put all of their lives at risk. Jonah’s toss falls short, and he cannot conceal the truth that he has turned away from God. The sailors demand that he be cast overboard. To save the lives of the crew, Jonah bids farewell and jumps into the sea.

Separately, Sarah prays for God’s mercy on Jonah, while Margalit wonders if she will ever see her son again.

Three days later, Jonah awakens inside the belly of a great fish. In the darkness, he hears voices and laughter, reminiscent of children. The voices come from the glowing krill and other sea creatures. They tell Jonah that he should open his heart to his enemies, for they are lost and desperately need to hear the Lord’s message in order to be saved.

As the storm abates, Jonah thanks God for sparing him. He promises to dedicate his life to spreading the Lord’s word. Safely brought to shore, he sets out for Nineveh, where he is reunited with Sarah. Margalit arrives too, having come in search of her son. Joined with his loved ones once more, Jonah sets out to spread God’s message of love and repentance.

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