By Robert D. Thomas
Southern California News Group
With all of the schedules flowing into my email inbox, even for someone who spent much of my life writing media releases it’s easy to miss an important aspect of an email. That was the case with LA Opera’s 2018-2019 season announcement a couple of weeks ago.
Most of the posts I’ve read (including mine) focused on the company’s six main stage productions for next season, which — to be charitable — aren’t particularly adventurous: Carmen and The Pearl Fishers by Bizet; Nabucco and Rigoletto by Verdi; Gluck’s Orpheus and Eruydice and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.
Orpheus is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago (read details HERE) and Candide (a musical, rather than an opera) is part of the company’s three-year celebration of the centennial of Bernstein’s birth.
However, what nearly all of us overlooked is that LAO will offer four productions in its “Off Grand” series, which is really beginning to live up to its name as three of the four productions are actually playing in facilities off of Grand Ave. in downtown Los Angeles. The four offerings are one more than this season’s schedule.
Phillip Glass’ La Bette et la Bête will take place at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Matthew Aucoin’s Crossing will play at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. A double bill of operas by Gordon Getty, The Canterville Ghost and Usher House, will be held at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
The fourth production will be Keeril Makan’s Persona, which will play at REDCAT, the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater inside of Walt Disney Concert Hall. The company will again present a community opera, Jonah and the Whale, on March 16 and 17, 2018 in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which is (barely) off Grand.
Persona, Crossing and The Canterville Ghost will all be receiving their west coast premieres and all except Crossing will play for four performances each — there’s just one performance of Crossing scheduled.
Why are the “off Grand” productions important? There are at least two reasons:
1. They are a chance for the company to present operas by living composers without having to sell the 3,000+ seats in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
2. They allow the company to bring opera to locales that are away from its Bunker Hill headquarters. The Theatre at the Ace Hotel is a refurbished United Artists movie theatre from the 1920s and the other venues are recently built.
So kudos to LAO for branching out!
(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.