Long Beach Opera to Stage THE PERFECT AMERICAN
The opera, directed by Kevin Newbury and conducted by Andreas Mitisek, will be staged at the Terrace Theater, 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA. LBO is grateful for a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) to support the U.S. premiere of The Perfect American.
In a series of fictionalized scenes, the opera explores what might have transpired in the life and mind of cultural icon Walt Disney during his final days. As he drifts back and forth between the present and memories of his Midwestern American childhood, Disney is haunted by fears of mortality and his still unfulfilled ambition to build a utopian "city of tomorrow." As the boundaries between reality and imagination become increasingly blurred, appearances by real and fictional characters, including Disney family members, a disgruntled former employee, Andy Warhol, and an animatronic Abraham Lincoln, reveal much more about this larger-than-life figure than simply making dreams come true. Filling in the spaces where facts end, The Perfect American tells the poetic and tragic story of a man who scaled the heights and depths of the American Dream.
After seeing the world premiere in Madrid, Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed wrote that The Perfect American was "a great American opera that needs to be seen in L.A. And, it is also the only great L.A. opera."
Composer Philip Glass comments, "Icons like Disney are complicated people...Everybody has different sides - that's not a bad thing. That makes it interesting. I think [the opera] serves his memory in an honest and interesting way."
"I am so excited to be directing the North American premiere of Philip Glass' The Perfect American, says Director Kevin Newbury. The opera is an acutely theatrical, phantasmagoric look at the life and legacy of one of our most important American icons. The Perfect American traverses time and space, examining the nature of creativity and the many aspects of Disney's life (both light and dark) that contributed to his work and legacy. This is a quintessentially American story and Long Beach Opera is the perfect place to launch the American premiere production."
The role of Walt Disney will be sung by American baritone Justin Ryan. Praised for his "commanding presence...owning the stage every time he set foot on it" (Opera News) as well as his "tremendous charisma" (NY Classical Review), Ryan recently received critical praise for his "strong portrayal" of Edward Hopper (New York Times) in StewArt Wallace's Hopper's Wife at New York City Opera.
Composed by Philip Glass with a libretto by Rudy Wurlitzer, The Perfect American is an adaptation of American, German-speaking Peter Stephan Jungk's novel, Der König von Amerika, an imaginary vision of the darker side of Walt Disney. The idea for the opera originated with Belgium impresario Gerard Mortier. It was commissioned in September 2008 for New York City Opera (NYCO), where Mortier was contracted to be general director the following year. In November 2008, Mortier and NYCO parted ways and he took the project to Teatro Real in Madrid, where he had been named artistic director. The Perfect American was subsequently commissioned by Teatro Real in a co-production with the English National Opera (ENO). The world premiere took place at the Teatro Real in January 2013 and was performed by ENO in June 2013. Opera Queensland staged the work in 2014 for the Brisbane Festival. The Perfect American is Glass' 25th opera.
IF YOU GO:
THE PERFECT AMERICAN
Sunday afternoon, March 12, 2017, at 2:30 PM
Saturday evening, March 18, 2017, at 8:00 PM
Venue: Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA. 90802
Runtime: Two hours and 25 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.
Sung in English.
Single tickets for The Perfect American range from $49 to $150 and can be purchased by calling the LBO Box Office at 562.470.SING (7464) x101 or by going online to www.longbeachopera.org/tickets. Flex-Pass and LBO Opera Access options offer ticket discounts and Student Rush tickets for $15 will be available space permitting. See the LBO website for details.
More information at www.longbeachopera.org/2017-season/perfect-american.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Kevin Newbury - Stage Director
Kevin Newbury is a theatre, opera and film director. He has directed over 20 world premieres, including Bel Canto (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Fellow Travelers (Cincinnati Opera), Oscar (Opera Philadelphia, Santa Fe Opera), The Manchurian Candidate (Minnesota Opera), O Columbia (Houston Grand Opera), and Kansas City Choir Boy (with Courtney Love; NYC, LA, Boston, Miami). Other recent projects were at Carnegie Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Kennedy Center, Barcelona Liceu, San Francisco Opera, Bard Summerscape, Seattle Opera, L'Opera de Montreal, Canadian Opera Company, Wexford Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Portland Opera. His theatre credits include the GLAAD-winning play Candy and Dorothy. Newbury's film credits include Monsura is Waiting & Stag (40 festivals, several awards) and the upcoming Another Dance of Death.
Andreas Mitisek - Conductor
Since 2003, Mitisek has been LBO's artistic & general director. In 2012, he joined Chicago Opera Theater (COT) as general director. Recent conducting credits include Thérèse Raquin, I was Looking at the Ceiling and then I Saw the Sky, The Death of Klinghoffer, Camelia la Tejana and The Fall of the House of Usher (co-production with COT). Other conducting credits include: Joruri in Tokyo, Don Giovanni (Seattle Opera), Madama Butterfly (Orlando Opera), Jane Eyre (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Eugene Onegin (Teatro Municipal in Santiago de Chile). Mitisek also conducted the Austrian and Italian premieres of Nixon in China. His recent directing credits include The Fairy Queen, Fallujah, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, King Gesar, Macbeth, Nixon in China, Tell-Tale Heart, Van Gogh, The Paper Nautilus, Ainadamar and Maria de Buenos Aires. Mitisek is on the board of directors for OPERA AMERICA, the national service organization for U.S. opera companies.
Sean Cawelti - Video and Puppet Designer
Sean Cawelti graduated from UC Irvine with honors in directing and studied puppetry at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Sean is the founding artistic director of Rogue Artists Ensemble, a multi-media, puppet and mask company and was the Center Theater Group's 2015 Sherwood Award recipient. He has designed puppets, masks, props and video for theater, music videos, museums, concerts and arena shows, including the Kanye West Yeezus tour.
LONG BEACH OPERA: Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO creates immediate, inventive, and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most opera companies in the number of world, American, and West Coast premieres the company has staged. Founded in 1979, it is the oldest professional opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 110 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to operas of the 21st. LBO's ever?growing repertoire has provided stimulus for the subsequent founding of other local opera companies, catapulting Southern California into the spotlight as a major opera epicenter. LBO is a recognized and respected member of the U. S. cultural community, receiving funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach, along with generous support from individual donors, local businesses, public corporations and private foundations.