Long Beach Opera to Celebrate Renowned Artist Frida Kahlo With Five Outdoor Performances


Photo courtesy of MOLAA. Frida on Rooftop, New York, 1946 by Nickolas Muray.

Five outdoor performances of Robert Xavier Rodríguez’ opera Frida are coming your way, with the anticipated Southern California premiere by Long Beach Opera (LBO) to take place Saturday, June 17 at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), coinciding with the museum’s current exhibition Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray.

The opera celebrates the renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, her vivacious spirit, sexuality, fragility, and her tumultuous life with muralist Diego Rivera. The amazing score from Robert Xavier Rodríguez captures Kahlo’s essence with music as rich and moving as her art.

Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Laura Virella will star as Frida Kahlo in her LBO debut, while Venezuelan-American baritone Bernardo Bermudez will also debut opposite her as Diego Rivera. Kristof Van Grysperre returns as LBO’s conductor, while Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek both directed and designed the production.

“You learn much more about people by watching them not alone, but in conflict with others,” composer Rodríguez said in a statement. “It’s that fascinating and unpredictable through-line of their relationship that drives the action. Frida sings as she lived—against the tide from the very first note.”


Photo by Naomi Vaughan of Laura Virella, courtesy of LBO.

In keeping with the Mexican tradition of Frida, the score features mariachi-style orchestration, including authentic Mexican folk songs, dances and the composer’s own “imaginary folk music,” according to Long Beach Opera.

Described as “romantically dramatic” by the Washington Post, Rodríguez’ work also encompasses his sense of humor. “I never borrow, I steal,” the composer stated, referring to two Mexican piñata songs (“Horo y fuego” and “Al quebrar la piñata”), two narrative ballads (“La Maguinita” and “Jesusita”), the Communist anthem (“L’Internationale”), Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde that he incorporates into the performance.

Frida will be held at MOLAA and Grand Performances in Los Angeles. The two-hour 20-minute long outdoor performance will be sung in English and Spanish and includes one intermission.

Opera ticket holders will also be given free exclusive access to Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray two hours before the performance. The exhibit, featuring portraits of Kahlo taken by Muray, who was her on-and-off lover for 10 years as well as lifelong friend, opened on April 30 and will run through September 3.



Photo courtesy of MOLAA. Frida with Olmeca Figurine, Coyoacán, 1939 by Nickolas Muray.

One hour prior to each performance, Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek will also hold a pre-opera talk with guests.

Performances at MOLAA will be held on June 17, 18, 24 and 25 at 8:00PM. One performance will be held on Friday, June 23 at Grand Performances in Los Angeles.

Tickets range from $49 to $150 and can be purchased by calling the LBO Box Office at 562.470.SING (7464) or by visiting the webpage here. Student Rush tickets for $15 will be available as space permits.

Grand Performances is located at 350 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. MOLAA is located at 628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.