Continuing a long-standing tradition of presenting avant garde and contemporary operas to greater Los Angeles, the Long Beach Opera has announced the four North American and English works that will comprise its 2015 season. From a disaster romance set around a famous seismic event to a chamber piece based on an unprecendented collaboration between composer Philip Glass and beat poet Allen Ginsberg, next year’s season is one of its most boundless and relevant yet.
The 2015 season will actually start at the end of this summer with a August 23 performance at the Ford Theatre in Los Angeles of I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky, a 1995 opera inspired by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake written by one of America’s foremost contemporary composers, John Adams. A blend of musical genres follows the stories of several quake survivors with a libretto by June Jordan that also serves as a SoCal social commentary. The Southern California premiere of this work is long overdue—it has ironically never been performed in L.A., its setting—and with Long Beach Opera’s previous successes with Adams (see 2010’s production of Nixon In China), it is sure to be a night of compelling opera under the stars.
In January, the season will kick off in Long Beach with the L.A. premiere of Thérèse Raquin, the third opera from young composer Tobias Picker based on the Émile Zola novel of the same name. Words like “selacious,” “sensual” and “dark” are apt for describing this interpretation of Zola’s realistic tale of crime and illicit desires, with Picker’s score as lavish and sinister as the plot itself. A co-production with the Chicago Opera Theatre—which LBO’s Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek also heads—Thérèse Raquin is, according to Opera Now, “a thrill ride from the start.”
The American premiere of Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever, an opera about an American icon unlike any other, will follow in March. A series of vignettes as told by Marilyn and her many men, the music will be performed by a small chamber orchestra as well as a jazz trio that will create a historical setting for the stories that surrounded Monroe’s tragic life.
The last opera of LBO’s 2015 season is Hydrogen Jukebox, a late-’80s collaboration between two great American cultural minds, Philip Glass and Alan Ginsberg. Ginsberg was one of the more prolific of the Beat Poets, and his prose about everything from the sexual revolution to the Iran-Contra crisis serves as a poignant libretto for Hydrogen Jukebox, creating a snapshot of life in the U.S. from the 1950s through the opera’s 1990 premiere. Glass’ minimalist score backs dramatized stories from six quinticentially American characters in this unique, historically significant work.
For more information on Long Beach Opera or to subscribe to their 2015 season, visit longbeachopera.org