LA Opera Off Grand & The Broad Stage Present USHER HOUSE & THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
LA Opera Off Grand and The Broad Stage will present a double bill of one-act operas by Gordon Getty: Usher House and The Canterville Ghost. The operas will be performed on June 22 and 24 at The Broad Stage, located at 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
The double bill, dubbed "Scare Pair" by composer-librettist Gordon Getty, brings two different haunted houses to the operatic stage. Writer Edgar Allan Poe takes the stage himself as the main character of Usher House, an unsettling chiller based on Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. The Canterville Ghost puts a deft comic spin on Oscar Wilde's witty short story of the same name, in which the 300-year-old ghost of an English nobleman fails to impress his newest audience, a family of Americans who simply refuse to be frightened.
About Usher House
Usher House recounts the final days of the last two surviving members of an ancient family. A quintessentially Gothic tale, the opera features a high-strung recluse, a beautiful invalid and a sinister doctor, all hidden away in a crumbling manor house full of secrets.
In adapting Poe's short story for the operatic stage, Mr. Getty found himself taking several liberties with the plot and characters.
"To start, I have made Poe himself the narrator who lives to tell the tale," he said. "More radically, I have conceived him and the doomed siblings as types of an antebellum warmth and gallantry which hardly exist anywhere in the prose of the real Poe, and must be counter to his purposes here. I have added other gothic staples as well."
Usher House had its world premiere in 2014 at Welsh National Opera. San Francisco Opera presented the U.S. premiere in 2015.
About The Canterville Ghost
Based on Oscar Wilde's comic short story of the same name, The Canterville Ghost will have its West Coast premiere in these performances. The opera is a faithful adaptation of the original tale, in which a rich American family buys an English manor house that harbors a centuries-old ghost. The new owners are unimpressed by the ghost's numerous efforts to frighten them, and the family's twin boys take great delight in tormenting the spirit; only the young daughter shows any sympathy for the ghost's plight.
The Leipzig Opera presented the world premiere of The Canterville Ghost in 2015. The U.S. premiere of the opera took place in 2017 at the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York.
The double bill is conducted by Sara Jobin, the incoming artistic director of the Center for Contemporary Opera, where she has been chief conductor for seven years. She has conducted five productions for San Francisco Opera, where she made history as the first woman to conduct mainstage subscription performances, as well as productions for Arizona Opera, Opera Santa Barbara and Pittsburgh Opera. The production is directed by Brian Staufenbiel, who has been the creative director and stage director for San Francisco's Opera Parallèle since 2007.
For both operas, the scenery designer is Dave Dunning, the costume designer is Callie Floor, the lighting designer is Nicole Pearce, and David Murakami designed the projections. Yayoi Kambara is the choreographer of Usher House.
The Usher House cast includes tenor Dominic Armstrong as Edgar Allan Poe, baritone Keith Phares as Roderick Usher, dancer Jamielyn Duggan as Madeline Usher, and bass-baritone Matthew Burns as Dr. Primus. Soprano Summer Hassan, an alumna of LA Opera's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, is heard as the voice of Madeline Usher.
Mr. Burns will also sing the title role in The Canterville Ghost, with Ms. Hassan as Virginia Otis, Mr. Phares as Mr. Otis, and mezzo-soprano Jessica Ann Best as Mrs. Otis. Baritone Kevin Wetzel and mezzo-sopranos Augusta Caso and Hilary Ginther will also appear in various roles in the double bill.
About Gordon Getty
The music of Gordon Getty has been performed in such venues as New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London's Royal Festival Hall, Vienna's Brahmssaal, and Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall and Bolshoi Theatre, as well as at the Aspen, Spoleto, and Bad Kissingen Festivals.
The first of his three operas, Plump Jack-involving the adventures of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff-was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony and has been performed by the BBC Philharmonic and London Philharmonia, among other ensembles. LA Opera presented a concert performance of Plump Jack in 1988. In 2011, the Munich Radio Orchestra performed Plump Jackin a new concert version. Learn more about the composer and his music at GordonGetty.com.
Performance Dates, Times and Venue
Two performances of Usher House and The Canterville Ghost will be presented as part of the LA Opera Off Grand series at The Broad Stage:
• Friday, June 22, 2018, at 7:30pm
• Sunday, June 24, 2018, at 2pm
The two performances will take place at The Broad Stage, located at 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Tickets and Additional Information
Tickets are on sale now. Tickets begin at $44 and and can be purchased online at LAOpera.org, by phone at 213.972.8001, or in person at the LA Opera box office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012). For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email LAOpera@LAOpera.org.
For additional information about this presentation, visit LAOpera.org/Usher.
Photo Credit: Steven Pisano / Center for Contemporary Opera