Recommended: LONG BEACH OPERA (2024 Season)

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by Michael M. Landman-Karny on September 12, 2023

in Music,Theater-Los Angeles

Season tickets now on sale at

ISOLAMusic by Alyssa WeinbergPoetry by J. Mae BarizoWORLD PREMIERECompound, Long Beach1395 Coronado Ave, Long Beach, CA 90804February 3,10 and 11 2024All performances at 7:30 PMGeorge R. Miller, Director (LBO directorial debut)Lucy Yates, Music DirectorAriadne Greif, Soprano

ISOLA is a prismatic meditation on time, mental health and isolation. The title is taken from the word Isola, at turns meaning isolation, an island, and the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean where Barizo’s parents emigrated from the year before her birth. Written by hand by Barizo in the Appalachians during the pandemic in 2020, the text hinges on the idea of distorted perception, both internal and external, viewed through the lens of isolation.

Weinberg sets the text using her unique aural color and texture to channel big emotions, creating an operatic experience that is “quite literally stunning” (Chicago Tribune). Weinberg is emerging as a major compositional voice and her music has been commissioned and performed by some of the most accomplished artists and ensembles around the world.

The world premiere production is part opera, part art installation, and utilizes surround-sound electronics, dance and light to activate the central character’s psyche and subconscious through a multitude of physical and sonic manifestations. Performed at Compound, a multi-disciplinary intimate gallery space in Long Beach, the opera will envelop audiences with surreal dreaminess.  ISOLA earnestly engages questions and sensations of identity, multiplicities of self, distorted perceptions of time, processing, and healing through a poetic, non-linear series of vignettes.IPSA DIXITMusic by Kate SoperWith edits of texts by Guido d’Arezzo, Aristotle, Pietro Bembo, Lydia Davis, Michael Drayton, Robert Duncan, Sigmund Freud, Jenny Holzer, Plato, Sophocles, Kate Soper, Sarah Teasdale, and Ludwig WittgensteinNEW PRODUCTIONfeaturing MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANYArt Theatre, Long Beach2025 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814June 1, 8 2024 at 7:30 PM and 9 2024 at 2:30 PMJames Darrah, DirectorChristopher Rountree, Music DirectorJanet Eilber, Choreographer

Premiered in December of 2016 in New York and a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music, IPSA DIXIT, called a “philosophy-opera” by The New Yorker, will be presented in a new production at the Art Theatre in Long Beach the first two weekends in June. IPSA DIXIT is a striking work described by the Pulitzer Prize committee as “a breakthrough work that plumbs the composer’s fertile musical imagination to explore the relationships between idea and expression, meaning and language.” The piece was created over the course of two years and contains a thrilling combination of texts stitched together by Soper into an engrossing ninety minutes. In IPSA DIXIT, Soper asks the question “How can I use music to explore something fundamental about being a thought- and language-user, with all the contradictions and paradoxes and limitations that thought and language (and music!) produce?” Soper uses her own words as well as edits of texts from Aristotle and other historic figures to push the boundaries of the meaning of art throughout the work and break operatic conventions.

As the work plumbs the meaning, structure and ephemerality of art, director James Darrah will create a multi-disciplinary new staged production with LBO Music Director Christopher Rountree which features dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company with original choreography by the Graham Company’s artistic director Janet Eilber. The team will transform the historic Art Theatre cinema in Long Beach into a unique operatic performance space. This will be the third work by Soper at LBO following Voices from the Killing Jar, presented in collaboration with the LA Phil at The Ford in 2021, and the widely acclaimed world premiere of The Romance of the Rose in 2023 deemed “an operatic triumph” by the LA Times and a NY Times critic’s pick, directed by Darrah and conducted by Rountree.

ASUNCIÓNMusic and Concept by San Cha, Libretto by McCall CadenasWORLD PREMIERELos Angeles Theater Center, Los Angeles514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013July 13, 20 2024 at 7:30 PM and 21 2024 at 2:30 PMin collaboration with Latino Theater CompanyCo-created by McCall Cadenas and San ChaMcCall Cadenas, DirectorStarring San Cha in her operatic debut

San Cha channels a wave of cultures that beautifully collide in a mix of genres that incorporate her heritage, her past and a vision for opera that encompasses pop culture and Latin culture. As eclectic in sound as she is in emotion and storytelling, at times haunting and full of ache, she remains an unstoppable dance force. Hailing from the world of pop music, San Cha in her first opera both writes and performs.

ASUNCIÓN, commissioned by Long Beach Opera with co-commissioners PSNY, PICA and MACLA, will be based on her previously released album La Luz de la Esperanza. This album was released to much critical acclaim, with Pitchfork describing it as “a work of art that took her entire life to make, the synthesis of years of struggle and growth, a style forged on the ranches of Jalisco and in the queer clubs of San Francisco.” By subverting the tropes of popular culture from her Mexican roots to make something new, San Cha has managed to make an impact on the music world, thanks to a highly original sound that encapsulates who she is.

This Telenovela opera follows the story of Dolores, a humble flower picker on a hacienda. Salvador, the owner of the hacienda who falls in love with Dolores and promises her the world, convinces her to marry him. He soon becomes obsessed and controlling. In a moment of despair Dolores is greeted by a divine apparition named Esperanza, with whom she falls in love. Will Dolores follow her heart and seek out Esperanza or will she stay in the wealth of her husband Salvador? Cadenas, who also created the libretto for ASUNCIÓN will create this world premiere production for Long Beach Opera in July 2024 in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Theater Center, in partnership with the Latino Theater Company. 

LBO ON DISPLAYFeaturing performance excerpts of multiple new works including:

OPEN AIR first look and wrap partyWORLD PREMIERE FILMScreenplay and Direction by James DarrahScore & Original Music by Christopher RountreeStarring and Co-Created with Measha Brueggergosman-LeeFilming Spring 2024DATE TBA ALCINANew Edition PreviewMusic by G.F. HandelStarring and developed with soprano Tiffany TownsendApril 20, 2024, 7:30 PMLocation TBA THE PASSION OF NELLWorkshop PreviewMusic by Shelley WashingtonLibretto by Lisa TeasleyApril 28, 2024, 7:30 PMLocation TBA

A project in which LBO will invite audiences to have an insight into the creation process will be OPEN AIR, a world premiere operatic film that explores the juxtaposition and synthesis of the worlds of film and musical storytelling. Featuring a newly created screenplay by Long Beach Opera Artistic Director James Darrah, a new score composed by LBO Music Director Christopher Rountree, OPEN AIR is likely to attract new audiences to the medium of opera by creating a stylistically opulent film featuring a distinguished contemporary operatic score.

Inspired by the opera-theater piece “Recital I (for Cathy),” created by Luciano Berio for his wife Cathy Berberian and premiered in the 1970s, OPEN AIR will similarly become a vehicle for versatile soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. “Recital I (for Cathy)” included numerous excerpts from operas wildly stitched together with a newly composed piece; OPEN AIR will similarly utilize excerpts from Ms. Brueggergosman-Lee’s wide ranging repertoire: opera arias to spirituals to jazz standards. The musical fragments will be arranged within Darrah’s original screenplay forming a unique narrative story and original score, which will also include newly composed music by the company’s music director Christopher Rountree. Audiences will be granted limited access to the set of OPEN AIR, to be able to witness the creation of a world premiere operatic film in real time as part of LBO ON DISPLAY. LBO will continue to shine a light on new works by pulling back the curtain on the incubation or production period of these new works to audiences. Audiences will have the opportunity to take a first listen to the work commissioned by LBO from LBO’s Composer-in-Residence Shelley Washington entitled THE PASSION OF NELL with a libretto by writer Lisa Teasley. THE PASSION OF NELL details the real-life true-crime story of Nell Theobald, a young model and singer who developed a life-long obsession with the opera star Birgit Nilsson after suffering a near-fatal bite from a lion on the set of a car commercial. The opera will present the sometimes unbelievable but true story of the lengths Nell went to get closer to her idol Nilsson and will examine inner thoughts of a troubled but devoted young woman whose greatest passion was opera. The workshop will be presented with singers and orchestra, conducted by LBO’s own Christopher Rountree and directed by James Darrah. The weekend prior, audiences can witness performances of selections from a new working edition of G.F. Handel’s ALCINA which LBO plans to present in a future season, with the title role performed by stunning soprano Tiffany Townsend, who will also take on an important role in the workshop performance of THE PASSION OF NELL. Townsend was last seen at LBO as Idleness in The Romance of the Rose in February 2023.

Biographies for all artists can be found here.

ADDITIONAL EVENT: GALA 1979Sunday, November 12th, 2023L’Opera Restaurant in Long Beach LBO will have one additional event this season: a gala celebration of the year it was founded. An unmissable party that will serve as both a throwback to the year LBO was founded and a look ahead to the promising and innovative future of L.A.’s longest running opera company. GALA 1979 will be a celebratory dinner party featuring an intimate not-to-be-missed performance by powerhouse vocalist Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. The evening’s multi-course meal will be created by one of Long Beach’s most popular restaurants, L’Opera, and is followed by dancing and dessert. There will be no tables for sale–only individual tickets–and all major fundraising will happen prior to the event in the form of underwriting for artists and production support. Patrons can party like it’s 1979 and revel in the cultural moment of LBO’s founding, while simultaneously supporting a new era for the intrepid company. Included in the evening will be selections from Luciano Berio’s theater piece composed in the 70’s entitled “Recital I (for Cathy)”, performed by Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. This fanciful piece is the inspirational basis for LBO’s latest film project entitled OPEN AIR and will give LBO supporters an intimate look at the Canadian soprano’s formidable repertoire, abilities and talent. GALA 1979 is an opportunity to let loose and have a fantastic time while supporting the innovative future of Long Beach Opera for the 2024 Season and beyond. 

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