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Long Beach Opera Announces Three Programs For Fall 2020

Viva VERDI: new eight course online seminar from Dr. Derrell Acon on the activism of opera composers of the 19th century.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered many performing arts organizations around the world, Long Beach Opera (LBO) has been industriously devising live innovative performance opportunities for both its artists and audiences.

Three new offerings are announced for fall 2020 including the 2020 Songbook, a fundraiser premiering 20 newly commissioned works, Viva VERDI, an online course focusing on the activism of 19th century opera composers, and The Creative in Me, a newly commissioned work for children featuring Black composers through history.

LBO will return to live in-person performances in the spring of 2021 with its Season of Solidarity, curated by Yuval Sharon. Updates related to the in-person season within pandemic restrictions will be released soon.

For more information please visit

2020 Songbook
Premiering November 15th at 5:00 PM PT

After the successful new "UnGalas" were launched last season, LBO will continue to redefine what a fundraiser can be this season with the 2020 Songbook premiering on November 15th. With in-person fundraisers completely cancelled this fall, LBO has chosen to find a way to support the creative economy while still raising money for artistic programming and initiatives.

This year, instead of purchasing a table to a gala, each sponsor will commission a new piece of music created by an emerging composer who has not yet had a major opera commission. These new works will premiere at an all virtual event on November 15th. The only parameters given to the composers will be that the piece must be a reflection of an event or experience from 2020, must be 3-5 minutes long, and must be for voice and one instrument or electronics. The resulting 2020 Songbook will serve as an artistic time capsule of this very unusual time, as well as contributing to the creative economy by supporting the creation of new works.

The emerging composers have been selected by a panel of five illustrious mentor composers, who will provide support and feedback to the emerging composers on their composition, and who will also appear at the virtual event to discuss their experiences. The five mentors are Anthony Davis, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, George Lewis, and Du Yun, who among them have won three Pulitzer Prizes, a MacArthur Genius Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and have premiered some of the most interesting and dynamic contemporary operas presented in the 21st century.

The 2020 Songbook will take place on Sunday, November 15th at 5:00 PM as a live virtual ticketed event featuring the premieres of 20 newly commissioned works. The event will also include interviews with the many artists and performers involved in the project as well as some behind the scenes footage highlighting the creative process. The entire evening will be hosted live by beloved Metropolitan opera superstar Anthony Roth Costanzo. Tickets will cost $75 per device, with a $25 ticket available to those in need (such as students, artists, and anyone suffering from financial stress brought on by the pandemic). All of the composers and artists involved will be compensated for their work, including $50 of each $75 ticket going directly towards artist costs. The proceeds of this "UnGala" will directly support LBO's 2021 Season of Solidarity, including the additional costs brought on by producing live performances in the time of Covid-19.

Viva VERDI: Why Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists
Beginning October 6th, 2020 at 5:30 PM PT

This fall, LBO will debut a virtual seminar taught by LBO's Director of Engagement and Equity Dr. Derrell Acon, entitled "Viva VERDI: Why Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists". Dr. Acon, a doctor and Fulbright scholar of 19th Century Opera History and Performance, as well as a renowned speaker on topics related to activism in the arts, will teach an 8-course seminar on how opera composers like Giuseppe Verdi used their art as a means of social advocacy and rebellion. The course will compare the artist activists in previous generations who have been catalysts for social change with the activists working to bring about social justice today, calling for a return to opera's former power to engage the most pressing issues of the times. The seminar includes historical context, musical examples, and will be interactively taught on Zoom Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30PM PT for four weeks beginning on October 6th. The suggested tuition is $250 per participant. Attendance will be capped and spots are limited.

Newly commissioned family opera "The Creative in Me"
Available online in October

LBO has created a digital version of its newly commissioned piece for children and families; The Creative in Me to be made available to schools and parents this fall. The Creative in Me tells the story of an African American father and daughter united by their love of classical music. This musical drama features arias from Black composers throughout history and is interwoven into a story of familial loss and discovery. The Creative in Me was originally slated to premiere in-person in schools last spring and this fall; a new version for this time has been created in which the father and daughter have to communicate via zoom. The Creative in Me will be distributed in early October.

Event details:

2020 Songbook
Sunday, November 15th at 5PM Pacific
20 world premiere performances
Event features Anthony Roth Costanzo (host) and mentor composers
Anthony Davis, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, George Lewis, and Du Yun.

Tickets available at;
For information on supporting the event, contact

Viva VERDI: How Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists
8 Sessions over 4 weeks
From October 6 - 29th, every Tuesday & Thursday at 5:30 PM Pacific via zoom
For more information and to register, please visit

Creative in Me
For information about distribution, including contact details for schools interested in programming Creative in Me, email

Artist Bios

Anthony Roth Costanzo Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo began performing professionally at the age of 11 and has since appeared in opera, concert, recital, film, and on Broadway. His debut album, ARC, on Decca Gold was nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award, and he is Musical America's 2019 vocalist of the year.

Costanzo has appeared with many of the world's leading opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, English National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, Dallas Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Spoleto Festival USA, Glimmerglass Festival and Finnish National Opera. In concert, he has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and National Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has performed at a wide-ranging variety of venues including Carnegie Hall, Versailles, The Kennedy Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Sawdust, Minamiza Kyoto, Joe's Pub, The Guggenheim, The Park Avenue Armory, and Madison Square Garden.

Costanzo is a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and won first prize in Placido Domingo's Operalia Competition. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his role in a Merchant Ivory film. He has begun working as a producer and curator in addition to as a performer, creating shows for National Sawdust, Opera Philadelphia, the Philharmonia Baroque, Princeton University, WQXR, The State Theater in Salzburg, Master Voices and Kabuki-Za Tokyo. Costanzo graduated from Princeton University, where he has returned to teach, and he received his masters from the Manhattan School of Music. In his youth, he performed on Broadway and alongside Luciano Pavarotti.

Anthony Davis Opera News has called Anthony Davis "a national treasure" for his pioneering work in opera. His music has made an important contribution not only in opera, but in chamber, choral and orchestral music. He has been on the cutting edge of improvised music and jazz for over four decades. Anthony Davis continues to explore new avenues of expression while retaining a distinctly original voice. Mr. Davis has composed eight operas. X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X with a libretto by Thulani Davis, had its world premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986. A recording of the opera was released in 1992 on the Gramavision label and earned a Grammy nomination for music composition. UNDER THE DOUBLE MOON, with a libretto by Deborah Atherton, premiered at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 1989 and TANIA, an opera based on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst with a libretto by Michael John La Chiusa, premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in 1992, was recorded and released for KOCH International in October 2001, and received its European premiere in Vienna in November 2003.

His fourth opera, AMISTAD premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on November 29th, 1997. AMISTAD was created in collaboration with librettist Thulani Davis and was directed by George C. Wolfe. A new production of the opera, directed by Sam Helfrich, debuted at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in May 2008. A recording of the opera was released on New World in 2008. Anthony Davis' opera WAKONDA'S DREAM with a libretto by Yusef Komunyakaa had its world premiere with Opera Omaha in March 2007. LILITH, an opera about Adam's first wife based on Allan Havis' acclaimed play with a libretto by the playwright, debuted in 2009, followed by LEAR ON THE 2ND FLOOR, an opera inspired by King Lear, in March 2013. A new opera THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE based on the trial and tribulations of the Central Park Five with a libretto by Richard Wesley was performed on June 15, 22 & 23, 2019 with Long Beach Opera at the Warner Grand Theater in Los Angeles and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2020.

Anthony Davis has composed numerous works for orchestra and chamber ensemble, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, Kansas City Symphony and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His other works include the music for the critically acclaimed Broadway production of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENIUM APPROACHES, PART ONE which premiered in May 1993 and PART TWO, PERESTROIKA which debuted in November 1993.

He has written two choral works. The first, VOYAGE THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE UPON THESE SHORES, an a cappella work based on the poem "Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden, is a harrowing tale about the slave trade and the fateful Middle Passage. His work, RESTLESS MOURNING, an oratorio for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble with live electronics, sets the poetry of Quincy Troupe and Allan Havis, as well as the 102nd Psalm, and presents a powerful evocation of the 9-11 Tragedy. The Carolina Chamber Chorale premiered the work at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival on May 31st, 2002.

As a pianist, Anthony Davis continues to perform in solo piano concerts in the United States and Europe. He has also performed in duo with bassist Mark Dresser, trumpet master Wadada Leo Smith and flautist Nicole Mitchell. He has appeared as a regular member of the Golden Quartet and Quintet with Wadada Leo Smith including the recordings Ten Freedom Summers and America's National Parks.

A graduate of Yale University in 1975, Mr. Davis is currently a professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. In 2008 he received the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award from the National Opera Association acknowledging his pioneering work in opera. In 2006 Mr. Davis was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Mr. Davis has also been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York Foundation of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Carey Trust, Chamber Music America, Meet-the-Composer Wallace Fund, the MAP fund with the Rockefeller Foundation, New Music USA and Opera America. He has been an artist fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Civitella Ranieri and at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy.

Annie Gosfield, whom the BBC called "A one-woman Hadron collider," lives in New York City and works on the boundaries between notated and improvised music, electronic and acoustic sounds, refined timbres and noise. Her music is often inspired by the inherent beauty of found sounds, noise, and machinery. In 2017, Gosfield collaborated with Yuval Sharon and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the multi-site opera War of the Worlds that incorporated three defunct air raid sirens that were re-purposed into public speakers to broadcast a free, live performance to the streets of L.A. from Walt Disney Concert Hall. She has composed site-specific music for factories; researched jammed radio signals; led a band driven by vacuum machine, and analog synth sounds; and developed two orchestral pieces during a 2016 residency sponsored by the League of American Orchestras.

Annie has been awarded fellowships and grants from the American Academy in Rome (2015), American Academy in Berlin (2012), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2008), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Siemens Foundation, the MAP Fund, NYSCA, Meet the Composer, and others. Gosfield's discography includes four portrait CD's on Tzadik, and compositions on Sony Classical, EMI, Innova, CRI, Mode, ReR, Harmonia Mundi, Wergo, CRI, and ECM. She has worked with The L.A. Philharmonic, Bang on a Can All-Stars, JACK Quartet, MIVOS Quartet, FLUX Quartet, Talujon Percussion, So Percussion, Joan Jeanrenaud, Kathleen Supové, Lisa Moore, Felix Fan, Frances Marie Uitti, Stephen Gosling, Anthony DeMare, James Ilgenfritz, String Noise, and Jennifer Choi. Active as a writer and teacher, she contributes to the New York Times series "The Score," and has been the Milhaud Professor of composition at Mills College, a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and a visiting artist at Cal Arts.

David Lang is one of the most highly esteemed and performed American composers writing today. Acclaimed for his vocal music, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion, and for writing narrative music for dance, films, and theatrical productions, as well as his own operas. He earned Golden Globe, Critics' Choice, and Academy Award nominations for his music for Paolo Sorrentino's film Youth. Most recently, Lang scored Paul Dano's directorial debut, Wildlife, as well as Patty Jenkins's limited series I Am the Night.

Recent works include his opera prisoner of the state (with libretto by Lang) - premiered in 2019 by the New York Philharmonic, who co-commissioned the work along with Rotterdam's de Doelen Concert Hall, London's Barbican Centre, Barcelona's l'Auditori, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Bruges's Concertgebouw; the writings, commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Netherlands Kamerkoor, and premiered by Theatre of Voices; the mile-long opera co-created with architect Elizabeth Diller and premiered in New York City's mile-long elevated park The Highline; the loser, which opened the 2016 Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and for which Lang served as composer, librettist and stage director; the public domain for 1000 singers at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival; his chamber opera anatomy theater at Los Angeles Opera and at the Prototype Festival in New York; the concerto man made for the ensemble So Percussion and a consortium of orchestras, including the BBC Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; mountain, commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony, death speaks, a song cycle based on Schubert, but performed by rock musicians, including Bryce Dessner from The National and Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond; the whisper opera, for the International Contemporary Ensemble and soprano Tony Arnold; and love fail, an evening-length work for the early music vocal ensemble Anonymous 4, with libretto and staging by Lang.

Lang is a Professor of Music Composition at the Yale School of Music and is Artist in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective Bang on a Can. His music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and Ricordi/Universal Music Classical.

George Lewis is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, where he serves as Area Chair in Composition and Faculty in Historical Musicology. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, Lewis's other honors include a MacArthur Fellowship (2002) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), a Doris Duke Artists Award (2019), a United States Artists Walker Fellowship (2011), an Alpert Award in the Arts (1999), and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis' work in chamber music, orchestral, operatic, and improvisational forms, as well as electronic and computer music and interactive multimedia installations, is documented on more than 150 recordings.

His work has been presented by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Dal Niente, London Philharmonia Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Musikfabrik, Mivos Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Spektral Quartet, Talea Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Wet Ink, JACK Quartet, and others, with commissions from American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, Ensemble Either/Or, Turning Point Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, IRCAM, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and others. Lewis's music is published by Edition Peters.

Lewis has served as Fromm Visiting Professor of Music, Harvard University; Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor of Music, University of California, Berkeley; Paul Fromm Composer in Residence, American Academy in Rome; Resident Scholar, and Center for Disciplinary Innovation, University of Chicago. His book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music (University of Chicago Press, 2008) received the American Book Award and the American Musicological Society's Music in American Culture Award; Lewis was elected to Honorary Membership in the Society in 2016. Lewis is the co-editor of the two-volume Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies (2016), and his opera Afterword (2015) has been performed in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic. Lewis holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Edinburgh, New College of Florida, and Harvard University. (

Du Yun, born and raised in Shanghai, China, and currently based in New York City, works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theatre, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Her body of work is championed by some of today's finest performing groups and organizations around the world.

Known for her "relentless originality and unflinching social conscience" (The New Yorker), Du Yun's second opera, Angel's Bone (libretto by Royce Vavrek), won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize; in 2018 she was named a Guggenheim Fellow; and in 2019, she was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Composition category for her work Air Glow. As an avid performer and bandleader (Ok Miss), her onstage persona has been described by the New York Times as "an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge." Du Yun is Professor of Composition at the Peabody Institute, and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

A community champion, Du Yun was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble; served as the Artistic Director of MATA Festival (2014-2018); conceived the Pan Asia Sounding Festival (National Sawdust); and founded FutureTradition, a global initiative that illuminates the provenance lineages of folk art and uses these structures to build cross-regional collaborations from the ground up. In 2018, Du Yun was named one of 38 Great Immigrants by the Carnegie Foundation, and in 2019 the Beijing Music Festival named her "Artist of the Year."

Dr. Derrell Acon is a uniquely accomplished bass-baritone and an international scholar on topics ranging from 19th Century Italian Opera to American Blacktivism. He has made his debut in the roles of Jake and Jim in Porgy and Bessat Semperoper Dresden, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Deutsches Theater München, Kölner Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Haifa Congress Center, Tel-Aviv Charles Bronfman Hall, and Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari. In 2018, he debuted as Escamillo in Opera Ithaca's Carmen, as Rocco in Heartbeat Opera's Fidelio, as Zuniga in Pacific Opera Project's Carmen, and as the bass soloist in LA Master Chorale's Messiah Sing-Along.

Dr. Acon is a 2013-2014 Fulbright scholar to Italy, where he researched the operas of Giuseppe Verdi and lectured on the Black American Experience, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grantee for his work in Verdian scholarship and performance, and a frequent presenter throughout the U.S. at such venues as conferences for the National Association for Ethnic Studies, National Association of Negro Musicians, and National Men of Color Summit and internationally at venues in Europe and Africa. Dr. Acon has also been seen as an opera lecturer at The Chautauqua Institution, Portland Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, and Des Moines Metro Opera. He is the co-creator of 'Creative in Me', in which he also portrays the character Reginald.

Dr. Tyrone Stanley (Playwright for Creative in Me) is a playwright and composer whose works have been featured in multiple national and international festivals and concerts. Dr. Stanley is currently an English professor at Montgomery College, and a lecturer at Morgan State University. Dr. Stanley made history at Morgan State University as the first Creative Dissertation in the English department, earning him the Ph.D in English. He received his M.A. in English/Creative Writing at the University of Central Oklahoma, and B.A. in English from North Carolina A&T State University. Dr. Stanley recently completed a Post-Doctoral Writing for Television Professional Program at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

An accomplished musician and director, Dr. Stanley is the composer and playwright of Soul On Fire the Musical, which made a Kennedy Center debut in 2014. Soul On Fire the Musical made its Off Broadway debut in New York's June Havoc Theatre, as a main stage feature for the Midtown International Theatre Festival in 2013. His work has also been seen in the National Black Theatre Festival, Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, and Soul On Fire will open in 2017 in an Apollo Theatre debut. Dr. Stanley is a recipient of the Central Oklahoma Playwriting Award (2009) for his 10-minute play, Distant Cousins, which also earned him the Middle-Atlantic Writers Association Award in Creative Writing. A fluent performer of Italian, French, and German opera, Dr. Stanley made his New York City Opera debut as a lead tenor in Toni Morrison's Margaret Garner, the opera. He has also been seen as Andre the Viper in Fats Waller Musical Ain't Misbehavin; Sportin' Life in the Australia/New Zealand tour of George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess; a feature role in an open run of NJ Performing Arts production of Your Arms Too Short To Box With God, which starred Tony Award winner Melba Moore and Cissy Houston; and a featured role in the regional premiere of Passing Strange (Guthrie, OK). He has appeared on CBS' As the World Turns; ABC's All My Children; HBO's Sex & the City; and Whoopi Goldberg's Whoopi.

Alexander Gedeon, director of 'Creative in Me', is a stage director, songwriter and performer working primarily in the field of contemporary opera, born and based in Los Angeles. His creative work has spanned the divide from pop to classical, and has been called "provocative, visually stunning" and "a perfect, experimental approach to opera" (San Diego UT, Times SD). Prior to committing to opera, Alexander created Trick & the Heartstrings, a New York punk-funk trio, for which he composed music and created a live show London NME called "a supertight howl of righteous rhythm and blues with jaw-dropping pop twists." The trio signed with Warner Bros UK subsidiary 679 and was produced by Grammy-winner Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + the Machines). Other musical projects garnered years' worth of radio airplay on LA's KCRW, and placements on ABC-TV and the iTunes Worldwide playlist.

After pivoting to opera stage directing, Alexander Assistant Directed the David Lang premiere of "anatomy theater" at LA Opera and "Central Park Five" at Long Beach Opera. Alexander made his directorial debut with "La tragédie de Carmen" at San Diego Opera in 2017 and served as associate director for the LA Philharmonic's production of John Cage's "Europeras 1 & 2", directed by MacArthur Fellow Yuval Sharon in 2018. Alexander is the co-creator and director of "Sanctuaries", a chamber opera about the Black experience of displacement in Portland, Oregon, premiering in April 2021 (2019 MAP Fund Award recipient). This fall, he will direct and perform "Concerto for Having Fun with Elvis on Stage" a collaboration with composer Daniel Corral at REDCAT, Los Angeles. Alexander continues his collaboration with Yuval Sharon. associate-directing "Comet/Poppea", featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra next spring.

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