As an opera company with a longstanding reputation for productions that are creatively innovative, challenging and often staged in unorthodox venues, each new season begs the question of just how the Long Beach Opera is going to outdo itself next. And this year, it comes by way of its repertoire.
For Long Beach Opera’s new season, announced just this week, the 44-year-old opera company will for the first time feature an entire season of operas by female composers and librettists. The female cast includes some celebrated creatives, including returning composer Kate Soper, and newly emerging figures in the genre.
The entire season will show six unique productions, including three world premieres with one being an opera for film.
FULLY STAGED PRODUCTIONS
- Feb. 3, 10, 11 – “Isola”: A musical meditation on identity, mental health and isolation through a series of non-linear vignettes, this new work by poet J. Mae Barizo was written in the Appalachians during the pandemic in 2020. The music, by emerging composer Alyssa Weinberg, promises a colorful and textured uplifting of Barizo’s work. The doors of the multi-disciplinary gallery Compound, which closed in 2022, will open once more for the world premiere in February.
- June 1, 8, 9 – “Ipsa Dixit”: A “philosophy-opera” by lauded female composer and librettist Kate Soper, the 2016 opera returns to stage to explore the meaning of art through the musings of some of history’s deepest thinkers including Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles and more. The opera was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music for its musical imagination and creative wit. Originally a show that features just one singer, this year’s performance will include original choreography from the Martha Graham Dance Company and staged at the Art Theatre of Long Beach.
- July 13, 20, 21 – “Asunción”: Latina electro-pop star San Cha ventures into the world of opera with her debut “Telenovela opera” about a flower picker living in a hacienda who finds herself in the midst of a love triangle after she falls in love with a man and a divine apparition. Composed by the pop artist, San Cha will also star in the world premiere at Los Angeles Theater Center in July.
The other portion of Long Beach Opera’s new season offers audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the company’s creative process through special previews, a workshop and even film set tours of some of the LBO’s developing works.
‘LBO ON DISPLAY’
- April 20 – “Alcina”: Powerhouse soprano Tiffany Townsend will perform selections from a new working edition of George Frederic Handel’s “Alcina” which LBO plans to present in a future season. Townsend, who will star in the forthcoming work, is also credited with developing the new working edition of the opera.
- April 28 – “The Passion of the Nell” workshop: Audiences will get a special look into LBO’s upcoming opera about the true-crime story of Nell Theobald, a young model who suffered a near-fatal lion bite during a commercial BMW car shoot. The piece, still in production, is by LBO composer-in-residence Shelley Washington with libretto by Lisa Teasley.
- Spring 2024 – “Open Air”: A new operatic film by LBO’s artistic director James Darrah and co-created by soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. The new film was inspired by “Recital I (for Cathy),” a stage work by Italian composer Luciano Berio who created the piece to showcase his wife’s mezzo-soprano voice. Brueggergosman-Lee, who is also starring in the new film adaptation, will perform music from the famed stage work as well as a newly composed piece for the film. “Open Air” is still in production, but the LBO will be giving audiences limited access to the set of the film to see some of the filming process in real-time.
Tickets and season subscriptions for the LBO 2024 season are available for purchase. Visit LBO’s website, here, for more information.