Photo: Maestro Andreas Mitisek - Long Beach Opera
Following a successful season which brought Long Beach Opera (LBO) increased ticket sales, a 20% growth in its subscriber base, and an unprecedented number of sold out performances, LBO announces its plans for 2012. The ambitious “Absurd-Bizarre- Surreal” season will include a double bill of one-acts and three full-length operas. LBO will highlight composers of the 20th century (Francis Poulenc, Bohuslav Martinu, Astor Piazzolla) and the 21st (Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Nyman).
January/ February 2012 - MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES (1968) Composer – Astor Piazzolla Libretto – Horacio Ferrer Astor Piazzolla’s haunting “tango operita,” returns to Long Beach in a new production.
March 2012 - Double Bill THE BREASTS OF TIRESIAS (1947) Composer – Francis Poulenc Libretto – Francis Poulenc based on the 1917 play by Guillaume Apollinaire. Poulenc’s surreal, comic gender bender begins this celebration of imagination. THE TEARS OF A KNIFE (1928) Composer - Bohuslav Martinu Libretto – Georges Ribermont-Dessaignes Bohuslav. Closing the double bill, Martinu’s madcap, dada romp embraces the illogical.
May 2012 - AINADAMAR (2003 /2005) Composer – Osvaldo Golijov Libretto – David Henry Hwang Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s fight for political and artistic freedom is brought to brilliant life in this haunting work.
June 2012 - THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT (1986) Composer – Michael Nyman Libretto – Christopher Rawlence and Michael Nyman, assisted by Michael Morris, based on a case study in the book of the same name by Dr. Oliver Sacks. The world’s first neurological opera illustrates the power of music to heal.
2012 SEASON DETAILS:
MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES. Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro, CA. Sunday, January 29, at 2:00PM Saturday, February 4 at 8:00PM.
Capturing the essence of cabaret, Maria de Buenos Aires is a dance-inspired dream with its feet firmly planted on the streets of Buenos Aires. LBO presented the West Coast premiere of this “tango operita” in 2004. Says Mitisek, “ There are some rare works that need to be brought back once in awhile and this is one of them.” The work pulses to the beat of Piazzolla’s music and the rhythm of Latin life. Born into poverty, María is seduced by the tango, the music of the clubs, and the dangerous undercurrents of city life. Condemned to death by thieves and brothel keepers, her shadow wanders the streets of Buenos Aires until she is blessed with a child and reborn. At an early age, Piazzolla fell in love with the tango and the bandoneon, a South American concertina. As a young man, he played in several dance bands while studying classical music. For years, Piazzolla searched for a personal approach to composition, trying to decide whether to follow the structures of classical music or the beat of the dance music he grew up with and loved. He choose to blend both and thereby create his own musical style, a new tango which has since been heard around the world. In Maria de Buenos Aires, Piazzolla and Ferrer weave a multi-dimensional mixture of jazz, classical music, poetry and voice to create the first “tango song” or “tango operita.” The work premiered at the Sala Planeta in Buenos Aires in May 1968 and had its U.S. premiere at Houston Grand Opera in 1991.
DOUBLE BILL: Venue: Center Theater, Long Beach, CA. Sunday, March 11 at 2:00 PM Saturday, March 17 at 8:00 PM.
THE BREASTS OF TIRESIAS (Les Mamelles de Tiresias)
Genders trade places on the French Riviera in this surreal comedy by Francis Poulenc based on the 1917 play of the same name by Guillaume Apollinaire. Is it a man’s world? Bored, submissive housewife Therese decides to find out for herself as she dreams of the many wonderful things she could do were she a man. Turning the tables on the Greek myth of Tiresias, a prophet who became a woman for seven years, Therese disengages from her breasts, becomes General Tiresias, and leaves home to fight wars on distant battlefields. Meanwhile, her stay-at-home husband copes by making babies on his own, 40,049 of them. Do these marriage partners really need each other? Set in the magical city of Zanzibar on the French Riviera, this exuberant comedy pits men against women in a wild battle of the sexes with comments on feminism and pacificism thrown into the mix. Containing a variety of theatrical and musical styles including jazz, cabaret and dance, Poulenc said, “I do believe I prefer this work to everything else I wrote… If people want to form an idea of my complex musical personality, they will find me quite exactly myself in Les Mamelles de Tirésias.” Poulenc’s opera-bouffe (comedy with sung and spoken dialogue) premiered on June 3, 1947 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. On June 13, 1953, Brandeis University gave the work its first U.S. production and the Metropolitan Opera staged the comedy in February 1981 and March 2002. LBO will be the first West Coast professional company to produce Poulenc’s opera and the first U.S. professional company to perform it in English.
TEARS OF A KNIFE (slzy nŏce, Les Larmes du Couteau)
Opera clichés are twisted around, nothing is as it seems, and the world spins out of control in this delicious, rarely performed work by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu and French dada, poet, playwright, and artist, Georges Ribermont-Dessaignes. Searching for the perfect husband, Eleonore looks for love in all the wrong places, commits suicide, and spontaneously returns to life. Unswayed, she continues her quest to find the perfect man. Blocking her way at every turn is Eleonore’s mother, a formidable sexual rival. In a series of surprises, their next-door neighbor, a passing bicyclist, and a hanged man are not whom they appear to be.Regarded as one of the two Czech giants of 20thcentury music, Janacek being the other, Martinu was a prolific internationally known composer in the 1940’s and 1950s and his many compositions were performed around the world. This jazz opera is filled with the rhythms, harmonies, and instruments of popular 1920’s dance music. Although written in 1928, the work didn’t premiere until 1969 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, a decade after the composer’s death. In November 2002, the U.S. premiere took place in the French language version, Les Larmes du Couteau, by the Henry Street Chamber Opera (former name of Gotham Chamber Opera.) LBO will present the Western U.S. premiere of Tears of a Knife and will be the first U.S. company to perform this dada romp in English.
AINADAMAR Venue: Press-Telegram Building, Long Beach, CA. Saturday, May 19 at 8:00 PM Saturday, May 26 at 8:00 PM.
As a child in Argentina, Osvaldo Golijov was strongly influenced by a variety of musical styles including the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. Ainadamar weaves a striking orchestral combination of flamenco, jazz, salsa, and klezmer styles into a tense and mesmerizing drama. Called a secular passion play, this powerful work has made an indelible impression on the modern music scene. Golijov and Japanese-American librettist David Henry Hwang’s operatic tribute to the freedom of ideas and the power of love is expressed as a dreamscape chronicling the final days of early 20TH century Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. Challenging the traditional roles of women, issues of class, and the prevalent anti-homosexualism of his time, Lorca was executed near Granada at the site of Ainadamar, in Arabic “fountain of tears.” An early version of the work premiered in a student production at Tanglewood Music Center in August 2003. In February 2004, after some musical and production changes, the LA Philharmonic performed the work at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. A new edition of the opera, overseen by director Peter Sellars, was given its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera in July 2005 and in June 2006, a semi-staged production of the new version was performed at the Ojai Music Festival. LBO’ will present the West Coast’s first fully staged production of the 2005 edition.
THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT - 1986.Venue: EXPO Building, Long Beach, CA. Saturday, June 16 at 8:00 PM Sunday, June 24 at 2:00 PM.
Dr. P could see the dots, but couldn’t connect them. British composer Michael Nyman, best known in the U.S. for his multi-award winning film score for The Piano, based this opera on Oliver Sacks’neurological study of an internationally known singer and voice professor who had visual agnosia, an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Upon leaving Sacks’ office after his first visit, Dr. P reached for his wife's head instead of his hat. In the actual case, as in the opera, Dr. P used music to bridge the gaps between what he saw and what he recognized. According to Sacks, the amazing thing about the case was “the power of music to organise and integrate, to knit or re-knit a shattered world into sense.” Nyman’s minimalistic score incorporates the songs by Robert Schumann which Dr. P used to help him in his daily struggle for coherence. In 1986, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. This unusual chamber opera had its U.S. premiere at the American Music Festival in Philadelphia in 1987 and the piece was staged at the College of Marin in 1998 & 2001. LBO will be the first Western U.S. professional company to produce this thought-provoking work.
About Long Beach Opera
Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertory. 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 opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 90 operas ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to operas of the 21st. Bold site-specific stagings in such places as parking structures, a trendy nightclub, the hull of an ocean liner, an Olympic swimming pool, and a furniture warehouse, as well as performances on stages and in the seats of traditional theaters reflect the company’s desire to give modern audiences an immersive theatrical experience and to showcase opera in a new light. Through its diverse productions, special concerts, and film screenings at multiple venues in the Los Angeles/ Orange County areas, an active education program, and student matinees, Long Beach Opera continues to make opera accessible to an ever-expanding audience.
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