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LA Opera LUMEE'S DREAM Premieres Today

'p R I S M' continues streaming until February 8.

This month, LA Opera presents the premieres of new Digital Shorts from two of today's most prominent female composers, Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid. Part of the company's On Now platform of online programming, offered free of charge to viewers, Digital Shorts are new commissions which pair gifted composers and visual artists.

Also new to On Now this month is a full-length streaming performance of Ellen Reid's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera "p r i s m," presented free of charge as well. The opera had its world premiere at LA Opera in 2018.

All three works are directed by James Darrah.

Missy Mazzoli's The West is a Land of Infinite Beginnings will premiere at 11am PST on January 15, 2021, and will be available for viewing through January 29. A surreal meditation on the American Dream and the role that uncontrollable forces play in our lives, the piece illustrates a harrowing scene from Proving Up, the 2018 opera Mazzoli wrote with librettist Royce Vavrek. Based on a short story by Karen Russell, the opera is a surreal tale of a 19th-century farming family striving to fulfill the requirements of the Homestead Act. Directed by James Darrah, the new Digital Short visualizes the appearance in the opera of the ghostly Sodbuster, a failed homesteader driven mad by his inability to fulfill the Act's most daunting and seemingly arbitrary requirement: obtaining a glass window for his farmhouse. The soundtrack features bass soloist Andrew Harris, with conductor Christopher Rountree leading the International Contemporary Ensemble.

"The work dwells more in questions than answers," said Mazzoli. "In a country where we imagine all success to be earned, is failure also earned? What happens when conditions become so extreme that the only way to achieve the American Dream is to resort to cruelty, thievery and manipulation? No character illustrates this darkness more viscerally than the Sodbuster, a gaunt and ghostly villain, a walking symbol of fate, death and pure rotten luck who cheerfully sings 'the west is a land of infinite beginnings' as he wreaks havoc. The Sodbuster comes in many forms and with many faces, but rest assured, in the end, he comes for us all."

For viewing details and additional information, visit LAOpera.org/West.

Ellen Reid's Lumee's Dream will premiere at 11am PST on January 29, 2021, and will be available for viewing through February 12. The piece is inspired by a scene from "p r i s m," composed by Reid in collaboration with librettist Roxie Perkins, The opera explores the psychological aftermath of a traumatic event. Lumee's Dream is taken from a lyrical moment in the opera, in which the mother of a teenage girl takes a moment of reflection. Co-directors James Darrah (also the director of photography) and Adam Larsen (also the editor and effects designer) fill the digital screen with kaleidoscopic images that create a surreal atmosphere.

"Lumee, one of the two main characters, sings this aria while smoking outside a nightclub in the second act, giving us a window into her selfish fantasies," said Reid. "This video is not taken from the production but is conceived as a companion piece, probing the character's imagined reality. Nadia Sirota channels Lumee through her viola playing, Rebecca Jo Loeb gives voice to the character, and Sasha Rivero and Anna Schubert's physical performances give us a window into her soul."

For viewing details and additional information, visit LAOpera.org/Dream.

"Both of these original video art works occupy the same universes as the full pieces that inspired them, but they explore quite different thematic material," said Darrah. "For The West is a Land..., the goal was to not just do an excerpt from Proving Up but rather create a kind of visual and aural prologue that is more about a nightmarish dream space. We've intentionally leaned into some history of suspense and horror films in a way that I think will be surprising to audiences. Lumee's Dream is intentionally more meditative and sensory, a long-form visual poem."

The LA Opera On Now platform will also feature a stream of a full-length performance of "p r i s m," winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The opera, which had its 2018 world premiere at LA Opera and was subsequently filmed in New York in 2019, will stream online for two weeks, beginning at 4pm PST on January 26.

The unforgettable opera erupts with color, using choral and orchestral manipulation to deliver an eerily distinct sonic world as it explores the trauma of sexual abuse and the elasticity of memory that can follow in its wake. A mother and daughter lock themselves away from the world to protect themselves from the dangers lurking outside. But when the girl's memories contradict her mother's stories of the past, she must choose between discovering the truth or holding on to the comforts of the only life she's ever truly known.

Directed by James Darrah, the performance features mezzo-soprano Rebecca Jo Loeb as Lumee, the mother, and soprano Anna Schubert as her daughter Bibi. Julian Wachner conducts the instrumental ensemble Novus NY and members of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.

For viewing details and additional information, visit LAOpera.org/prism.


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