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the loser

At the Theatre at Ace Hotel


The West Coast premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang's compelling new work.

Two piano prodigies at a master class encounter an even greater talent: the virtuoso Glenn Gould, on the cusp of superstardom. The devastating realization that they will never approach their new rival’s level of artistry changes their lives forever. A painful meditation on dreams forsaken and hopes unrealized unfolds in an unusually intimate staging that incorporates multiple levels of the spectacular Theatre at Ace Hotel. Composer David Lang returns to LA Opera for the first time since his spellbinding anatomy theater, with baritone Rod Gilfry in a tour-de-force performance of a role he created at the work’s premiere at the pathbreaking BAM Next Wave Festival, produced by Bang on a Can.

"Boldly unconventional… engrossingly ambiguous. Mr. Lang captures the conflicted emotional currents of the story in his elusive, austere music." – The New York Times


  • Friday February 22, 2019 08:00 PM

    Best Availability and Great Seats Just Released in Prime Balcony

  • Saturday February 23, 2019 08:00 PM

Performances take place at the Theatre at Ace Hotel (933 South Broadway, Los Angeles, 90015).

West Coast premiere.

The running time is approximately one hour, performed without intermission.

Produced by Bang on a Can.


Creative Team


A Note from Composer David Lang

“Suicide calculated well in advance, I thought, no spontaneous act of desperation.”

So begins Thomas Bernhard’s novel The Loser. The narrator, who is never named in the book, retells the story of his friend Wertheimer, who has just committed suicide, and in the process he reveals everything about himself. They both had been promising concert pianists in their youth, among the best in the world, but they had the misfortune of meeting each other as students in a master class of Vladimir Horowitz, in which the young Glenn Gould had also been a participant. The knowledge that they were never going to be as great as Gould wrecked their lives forever.

The story is not at all about Gould, Horowitz, or classical music. On one level the novel is an intense tour-de-force of character development, as the narrator tells you more and more about himself and his world, with all the details revealed in no particular order. In its own confrontational and strangely beautiful way, however, it is also about perfectionism, hard work, optimism or lack of, how we justify our lives to ourselves, and how we learn to appreciate beauty and become alienated from it at the same time.—David Lang

The Loser by Thomas Bernard used by permission of SuhrkampVerlag AG, Berlin. Translated by Jack Dawson. This translation used by permission of The Knopf Doubleday Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

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