Opera in Los Angeles can be an elusive beast. When the story broke about LA Opera receiving a $14 million bailout from the city for their production of the Ring cycle, many Angelinos responded by asking, “we have an opera?” The answer, friends, is yes, you’ve got a glorious one, headed by the knock-out team of Plácido Domingo and James Conlon. Housed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles, LA Opera offers a solid mix of classics and new or lesser-known works every season, almost always with innovative staging. (Do a Google Image search of “LA Opera Ring Cycle” for proof, if necessary.)
Across town, the Long Beach Opera focuses on new repertoire and innovative performances, with seasons as likely to include hits from John Adams and Philip Glass as they are to feature performances staged in an aquarium.
Student performances certainly deserve attention here as well, as singers from USC’s Thornton School of Music receive mentoring directly from the stars downtown and the Center for New Performance at Cal Arts regularly presents productions around the city. With a little digging – and help from the enormous number of tiny, independent theatres in Los Angeles – fans of opera can find staged and unstaged local performances put on by new names and faces almost daily. (Nick Norton)