Long Beach Opera Presents Steamy Season Opener: 'Thérèse Raquin'


In case you missed the Long Beach Opera (LBO) and Art Theatre’s boozy screening of Thérèse Raquin: The Adultress, Marcel Carné's 1953 adaptation of Émile Zola's realist novel, now you have two more chances to see Tobias Picker’s operatic interpretation of the steamy drama.

LBO's 2015 Season of “Desire. Passion. Corruption.” opens with Picker’s adaptation of Thérèse Raquin on Saturday, January 24 at 8:00PM and Sunday, February 1 at 2:30PM at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.

Called putrid and pornographic when it was first published in 1867, Zola’s novel brought the 27-year-old a kind of twisted fame for going beyond the bounds of what was considered acceptable behavior at the time. In an uninhibited tale of adultery, madness and revenge, the story is a devastating exploration of the darkest and most animalistic facets of our sometimes tumultuous human existence.

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Thérèse escapes into a passionate love affair, a coupling that becomes the catalyst for the demise of her hindering husband. After the husband’s death, her and her lover’s guilt drive them toward madness and despair.

“The novel exudes opera from every page,” explained Picker in a statement. “Everything about it is operatic. I felt myself becoming involved in the characters’ intense emotions. I view them as real people with extremely serious conflicts. For me, the ‘animal side’ of the characters is what makes them so deeply human.”

Dubbed by the Washington Post as a “major operatic talent,” Mary Ann Stewart debuts her talent at LBO with the title role. Ed Parks, praised by Opera News for his “warm, velvety baritone” at the Metropolitan Opera, also makes his LBO debut as the fateful lover. Matthew DiBattista, recently heard at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, returns to LBO as the betrayed husband. Thérèse Raquin marks LBO’s third co-production with Chicago Opera Theater (COT), also under the directorship of Andreas Mitisek. The first, Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher, opened LBO’s 2013 season and Ellington’s Queenie Pie, kicked off the 2014 season.

Andreas Mitisek, Artistic and General Director of LBO and General Director of COT, who will be conducting the performances, said in a statement, ““Picker’s music elevates the story into a passionate, soaring music drama of the best kind, always close to the emotional state of the protagonists.”

Director Ken Cazan returns to LBO, where he previously staged LBO's acclaimed production of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen and Glass’ The Fall of the House of Usher. Cazan said in a statement, “This, almost more than any opera I have ever worked on, feels like a play with music. There is not one character in the novel who is defensible as a human being...the ensuing guilt that both lovers feel and their sham of a marriage makes for great and sad drama.”

Upcoming productions in LBO’s 2015 Season “Desire. Passion. Corruption” will include Marilyn Forever by Gavin Bryars, on March 21 and Hydrogen Jukebox by Phillip Glass, on May 30 and June 6 and 7.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the opera, click here or call (562) 432-5934.

The Warner Grand Theatre is located at 478 W. 6th St., in San Pedro.

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