Opera Preview: GIUSTINO (Long Beach Opera)

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by Jacob Lansky on May 15, 2022

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles


Opera fans, take note! The ever-adventurous Long Beach Opera launches its 2022 spring and summer season with a genuine rarity: a new version of Handel’s Giustino, performed at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAAA) in Long Beach (May 21, 22, 28, 2022 at 7:30pm) in what appears to be only the second American production of the work since its 1989 Opera Center premiere in San Francisco.

But this time around, the 1737 original gets a “new look” courtesy of LBO’s Artistic Director James Darrah, with additional music and arrangements by Shelley Washington. Ms. Washington (pictured below) is a composer, performer, collaborator, and educator who writes music that draws elements from jazz, rock, American folk and other musical spaces. She also performs as a saxophonist and vocalist, and doubles on flute, piccolo, and clarinet.

In this world-premiere adaptation, transposed to an imagined California setting, Handel’s glorious score and still-relevant saga of warring armies reemerges as a site-specific, cinematically driven contemporary production featuring expanded orchestrations, sound design, and installation art. Darrah’s stylistic hybrid of cinema-theater will be familiar to audiences who have experienced his acclaimed production of last season’s Philip Glass opera Les enfants terribles. At MOLAA, the action of the scenes will move through the sculpture garden and galleries, while being filmed live-to-video to form an uninterrupted movie within an opera. The intermission will see additional spaces being activated, with the museum’s multiple settings serving to create overlapping narratives in the continuously playing video.

At these performances, the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra will be conducted by Christopher Rountree, with a cast led by Anna Schubert and Orson Van Gay (both of them seen in Les enfants terribles). Production design is by Adam Rigg, with lighting design by Pablo Santiago and Michael Rathbun, and live cinematography by James Darrah and Raviv Ullman.

George Frideric Handel
Long Beacg Opera
Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), 628 Alamitos Ave. in Long Beach
world-premiere production of a new adaptation
orchestrations/adaptations/new music by Shelley Washington
May 21, 22, 28, 2022 at 7:30pm
for tickets, visit LBO

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