Long Beach Opera Receives 1.25 Million Gift From Carol Richards

  In addition to this historic gift, LBO also recently received a $100,000 capacity building grant from the Perenchio Foundation of Los Angeles

By: Nov. 30, 2023
Long Beach Opera Receives 1.25 Million Gift From Carol Richards

Long Beach Opera has received the largest single gift in the company's history of $1.25 million from long-time Board member Carol Richards. Richards served on LBO's Board from the company's inception in 1979 until her passing in 2021, at which time she included Long Beach Opera in her estate plans with this historic gift, which recently came to fruition.  LBO plans to use Richards' gift to make strategic investments that will build organizational capacity over time, slowly expanding its artistic offerings over the next five years, when LBO will celebrate its 50th anniversary season.  
 
In addition to this historic gift, LBO also recently received a $100,000 capacity building grant from the Perenchio Foundation of Los Angeles.  The company has utilized this grant to upgrade its ticketing and database platform which will be launched in conjunction with the sale of single tickets to the 2024 season, starting today.  
 
General Director and CEO Jennifer Rivera stated, “We are so grateful to both Carol Richards and the Perenchio Foundation for their belief that LBO, as a hub for artistic innovation and expression that supports emerging artists and adventurous programming, warrants major support. We plan to utilize these gifts to make important investments in the future of LBO, allowing the company to thrive and grow, while continuing to focus on changing the artistic landscape with non-traditional programming like our 2024 season.” 
 
LBO's 2024 Season, featuring all female composer and librettist teams, two world premieres, a new operatic film, and a look at works in process will begin February 3-11 with the world premiere of the meditative opera ISOLA by composer Alyssa Weinberg with text by poet J. Mae Barizo at Compound, Long Beach . In April and May, LBO will produce several events as part of LBO ON DISPLAY, designed to open up the creative process and invite audiences into the creation of new work.
 
June 2-9, LBO continues its relationship with composer Kate Soper in presenting her unique theater piece IPSA DIXIT in a new staged production directed by LBO AD James Darrah at Art Theatre, Long Beach. The opera marks the Second Company project in partnership with Martha Graham Dance Company. The season will conclude July 13-2 at Los Angeles Theater Center in Downtown Los Angeles with the world premiere of the telenovela operetta ASUNCIÓN, created and performed by Latina electro pop star San Cha in her operatic debut and director / librettist McCall Cadenas.  It is a collaboration with Latino Theater Company.
 
Single tickets for this exciting season go on sale today at longbeachopera.org utilizing LBO's new ticketing platform available through the company's website. Two and Three-Opera Subscriptions also remain available. 
 
More about the 2024 Season:
 
ISOLA
WORLD PREMIERE
Music by Alyssa Weinberg
Libretto by J. Mae Barizo
George R. Miller, Director
Lucy Yates, Music Director
Ariadne Greif, Soprano
February 3, 4, 10, 11, 2024  All performances at 7:30 PM
Compound, Long Beach
1395 Coronado Ave, Long Beach, CA 90804
 
ISOLA, a prismatic meditation on time, mental health and isolation is by poet J. Mae Barizo and composer Alyssa Weinberg. The title is taken from the word Isola, which, by turns, means isolation, an island, and the archipelago in the Pacific Ocean where Barizo's parents emigrated from the year before her birth. Handwritten by Barizo in the Appalachians during the pandemic in 2020, the text hinges on the idea of distorted perception, both internal and external, viewed through the lens of isolation.
 
Composer Alyssa Weinberg sets the text using her unique aural color and texture to channel big emotions, creating an operatic experience that is “quite literally stunning” (Chicago Tribune). Weinberg is emerging as a major compositional voice and her music has been commissioned and performed by some of the most accomplished artists and ensembles around the world.
 
The world premiere production, staged by director George R. Miller in his LBO directorial debut, is part opera, part art installation, and utilizes surround-sound electronics, dance and light to activate the central character's psyche and subconscious through a multitude of physical and sonic manifestations. Performed at Compound, a multi-disciplinary intimate gallery space in Long Beach, the opera will envelop audiences with surreal dreaminess.  ISOLA earnestly engages questions and sensations of identity, multiplicities of self and (as) other, distorted perceptions of time, processing, and healing through a poetic, non-linear series of vignettes.
 
IPSA DIXIT
NEW PRODUCTION
Featuring Martha Graham Dance Company 
Music by Kate Soper 
With edits of texts by Guido d'Arezzo, Aristotle, Pietro Bembo, Lydia Davis, Michael Drayton, Robert Duncan, Sigmund Freud, Jenny Holzer, Plato, Sophocles, Kate Soper, Sarah Teasdale, and Ludwig Wittgenstein
James Darrah, Director
Christopher Rountree, Music Director
Janet Eilber, Choreographer
June 2, 8 at 7:30 PM and 9 at 2:30 PM
Art Theatre, Long Beach
2025 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814
 
Premiered in December of 2016 in New York and a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music, Kate Soper's IPSA DIXIT, called a “philosophy-opera” by The New Yorker, will be presented in a new production at the Art Theatre in Long Beach the first two weekends in June. 
 
IPSA DIXIT is a striking work described by the Pulitzer Prize committee as “a breakthrough work that plumbs the composer's fertile musical imagination to explore the relationships between idea and expression, meaning and language.” The piece was created over the course of two years and contains a thrilling combination of texts stitched together by Soper into an engrossing ninety minutes. In IPSA DIXIT, Soper asks the question “How can I use music to explore something fundamental about being a thought- and language-user, with all the contradictions and paradoxes and limitations that thought and language (and music!) produce?” Soper uses her own words as well as edits of texts from Aristotle and other historic figures like Plato, Sophocles, Guido d'Arezzo, Pietro Bembo, and Freud to push the boundaries of the meaning of art throughout the work and break operatic conventions.
 
As the work plumbs the meaning, structure and ephemerality of art, director James Darrah will create a multi-disciplinary new staged production with LBO Music Director Christopher Rountree and feature dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company with original choreography by the Graham Company's artistic director Janet Eilber. The team will transform the historic Art Theatre cinema in Long Beach into a unique operatic performance space. This will be the third work by Soper at LBO following Voices from the Killing Jar, presented in collaboration with the LA Phil at The Ford in 2021, and the widely acclaimed world premiere of The Romance of the Rose in 2023 deemed “an operatic triumph” by the LA Times and a NY Times critics pick directed by Darrah and conducted by Rountree. 
 
ASUNCIÓN
WORLD PREMIERE
in collaboration with Latino Theater Company
Music and Concept by San Cha
Libretto by McCall Cadenas
McCall Cadenas, Director
Starring San Cha in her operatic debut
July 13, 20 at 7:30 PM and 21 at 2:30 PM
Los Angeles Theater Center, Los Angeles
2025 E 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90814
 
San Cha channels a wave of cultures to beautifully collide in a mix of genres that incorporates her heritage, her past and a vision for opera that encompasses pop culture, Latin culture, and. As eclectic in sound as she is in emotion and storytelling, at times haunting and full of ache, she remains an unstoppable dance force. Hailing from the world of pop music, her first opera, commissioned by Long Beach Opera with co-commissioners PSNY, PICA and MACLA, will be based on her previously released album “La Luz de la Esperanza”. This album was released with much critical acclaim, with Pitchfork describing it as “a work of art that took her entire life to make, the synthesis of years of struggle and growth, a style forged on the ranches of Jalisco and in the queer clubs of San Francisco.” By subverting the tropes of popular culture from her Mexican roots to make something new, San Cha has managed to make an impact on the music world, thanks to a highly original sound that encapsulates who she is. This will be her first foray into opera, in which she will not only write but also perform.
 
ASUNCION, a Telenovela opera follows the story of Dolores, A humble flower picker on a hacienda. Salvador, the owner of the hacienda who falls in love with Dolores and promises her the world, convinces her to marry him. He soon becomes obsessed and controlling. In a moment of despair Dolores is greeted by a divine apparition named Esperanza whom she falls in love with. Will Dolores follow her heart and seek out Esperanza or will she stay in the wealth of her husband Salvador?
 
Director McCall Cadenas, who also created the libretto for ASUNCION based on San Cha's album “La Luz de la Esperanza,” will create this world premiere production for Long Beach Opera in July 2024 in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Theater Center, in partnership with the Latino Theater Company. 
 
LBO ON DISPLAY
Featuring performance excerpts / insider events for multiple new works including:
 

OPEN AIR

A WORLD PREMIERE OPERA FILM 
Written and Directed by James Darrah
Original Music and Score by Christopher Rountree
Developed with and starring Measha Brueggergosman-Lee
Spring 2024
 
A project in which LBO will invite audiences to have an insight into the creation process will be OPEN AIR, a world premiere operatic film that explores the juxtaposition and synthesis of the worlds of film and musical storytelling. Featuring a newly created screenplay by Long Beach Opera Artistic Director James Darrah, a new score composed by LBO Music Director Christopher Rountree and the singular talents of soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee, OPEN AIR is likely to attract new audiences to the medium of opera by creating a stylistically opulent film featuring a distinguished contemporary operatic score. 
 
Inspired by the opera-theater piece “Recital I (for Cathy)” created by Luciano Berio for his wife Cathy Berberian and premiered in the 1970'a, OPEN AIR will similarly become a vehicle for versatile soprano Measha Brueggergossman-Lee. “Recital I (for Cathy)” included numerous excerpts from operas wildly stitched together with a newly composed piece; OPEN AIR will similarly utilize excerpts from Ms. Brueggergossman - Lee's wide ranging repertoire: opera arias to spirituals to jazz standards. The musical fragments will be arranged within Darrah's original screenplay forming a unique narrative story and original score which will also include newly composed music by the company's music director Christopher Rountree. 
 
Audiences will be granted limited access to the set of OPEN AIR, to be able to witness the creation of a world-premiere operatic film in real time as part of LBO ON DISPLAY.
 

ALCINA

PREVIEW
Music by G.F. Handel
Starring and new edition developed with soprano Tiffany Townsend
April 20, 2024
 
THE PASSION OF NELL
WORKSHOP PREVIEW
Music by Shelley Washington
Libretto by Lisa Teasley
April 28, 2024 (Location TBA)
 

OPEN AIR

WORLD PREMIERE FILM
Screenplay and Direction by James Darrah
Score & Original Music by Christopher Rountree
Starring and Co-Created with Measha Brueggergosman-Lee
Filming Spring 2024
First look and wrap party
Date and venue TBA
 
LBO will continue to shine a light on new works by pulling back the curtain on the incubation or production period of these new works to audiences.
 
Audiences will have the opportunity to take a first-listen to the work commissioned by LBO from LBO's Composer-in-Residence Shelley Washington entitled “THE PASSION OF NELL” with a libretto by writer Lisa Teasley. THE PASSION OF NELL details the real-life true-crime story of Nell Theobald, a young model and singer who developed a life-long obsession with the opera star Birgit Nilsson after suffering a near-fatal bite from a lion on the set of a car commercial. The opera will present the sometimes unbelievable but true story of the lengths Nell went to get closer to her idol Nilsson, and will examine inner thoughts of a troubled but devoted young woman whose greatest passion was opera. The workshop will be presented with singers and orchestra, conducted by LBO's own Christopher Rountree and directed by James Darrah
 
The weekend prior, audiences can witness performances of selections from a new working edition of G.F. Handel's ALCINA which LBO plans to present in a future season, with the title role performed by stunning soprano Tiffany Townsend, who will also take on an important role in the workshop performance of THE PASSION OF NELL. Townsend was last seen at LBO as Idleness in The Romance of the Rose in February 2023. 
 
Biographies for all artists can be found here. 
Information about season tickets at longbeachopera.org.
 

ABOUT 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.
 



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