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LA Opera Kicks Off 'On Now' Platform With Stream Of THE ANONYMOUS LOVER

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James Conlon conducts the online stream of a long neglected 1780 comic romance.

On November 14, 2020, LA Opera will present the company premiere of The Anonymous Lover (L'Amant Anonyme), a 1780 opera by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), who is widely regarded as the first Black classical composer known to history.

Conducted by James Conlon, the company's Richard Seaver Music Director, and directed by Bruce Lemon, Jr., in a socially distanced stage setting at the Colburn School, the performance will be streamed online for free to reach a wide audience.

The Anonymous Lover will be the inaugural presentation of the company's new LA Opera On Now platform. After becoming the first major American Opera Company to respond to stay-at-home orders by launching an acclaimed series of unique LA Opera At Home online offerings, the company is now making streaming a permanent part of its programming. Under the On Now banner, the company will shine the spotlight on new and innovative interpretations of opera that viewers in Los Angeles and beyond can enjoy on screens, even after stay-at-home recommendations are lifted. To date, the company reports more than 750,000 views of its online programming since its launch on March 17, 2020, demonstrating a clear demand for such content.

According to Christopher Koelsch, the company's Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and CEO, "This presentation of The Anonymous Lover gives us many reasons for celebration. An unjustly neglected piece long overdue for a return to the opera stage, the opera reminds us that artists of color have created, performed and worked in the field of classical music for centuries, too often facing insurmountable odds. I'm thrilled to work with stage director Bruce Lemon, Jr., for the first time, in our efforts to help bring this remarkable work back to its rightful place in the repertoire."

Not only does The Anonymous Lover launch the new On Now initiative, it's also the company's first stage production since the stay-at-home orders began. "I know that our soloists and orchestra members are eager to return to doing what they love," continued Koelsch. "It's important to note, first and foremost, that LA Opera is committed to the health and well-being of our artists, audiences and employees. We have been working closely with COVID compliance officers to ensure everyone's safety. Our team has had to reimagine virtually every aspect of this production, and I'm delighted to see the creativity and enthusiasm that the entire company has brought to the project."

"The company premiere of The Anonymous Lover is a worthy extension of my personal mission to focus on music by composers whose names and works have been virtually eliminated from history," said Conlon. "Both the opera and the composer have been essentially ignored over more than two centuries, unquestionably because of the composer's race. I'm also excited that this special online performance will celebrate the inauguration of the On Now initiative. I have embraced our company's digital offerings as a meaningful way to connect with audiences around the world. I hope that opera lovers throughout Los Angeles, and well beyond, will enjoy this opportunity to hear the work of a composer whose music, a quintessential product of the Classical period, is ripe for rediscovery."

"The opera is about a fear of expressing love, a breakdown in communication, something that we're all dealing with right now," said Lemon. "The entire world is having a shared experience of not being able to communicate in the ways we used to do. There's something special about people finding ways to connect with each other, even when everything is against them. Even when all we know is on fire, we're still finding ways to connect more honestly and intimately than ever before. Of course, there is no way to do this opera without talking about why we don't know Joseph Bologne or his work today. It's an opera by a Black composer who died in relative obscurity. And this is because of racism, period; facts are facts. Aside from his art, he was a soldier, fighting for the revolution. Throughout history and around the world, many of the creations and accomplishments of Black people have been erased or buried, so for us to elevate this work to the public consciousness, especially now, against the backdrop of our current revolution, feels important and timely. Just to know someone like Joseph existed and thrived against such opposition is inspiring."

The Anonymous Lover is produced and streamed in partnership with the Colburn School, which will concurrently and collaboratively engage in a performance-based exploration of the works and legacy of Joseph Bologne.

Free digital tickets for The Anonymous Lover are now available at LAOpera.org/Lover. The stream will premiere at 5pm on Saturday, November 14.


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