Long Beach Opera Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek today announces the company's 2013 plans to produce five rarely performed 20th and 21st century operas. The season's theme is "Borderline" and the scheduled productions are the U.S. premieres of Gabriela Ortiz' Unicamente la Verdad and Stewart Copeland's Tell-Tale Heart, the Western U.S premiere of Michael Gordon's Van Gogh, the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher, and the Professional U.S. premiere of Ernest Bloch's Macbeth. Four of the five – Ortiz, Copeland, Gordon, and Glass – are living composers who actively contribute to today's music scene.
Commenting on his selections, Mitisek says, "These operas have immense theatricality in their exploration of people on the border between the real and the imaginary, truth and illusion, ambition and treachery, genius and madness. Musically, the season is a fascinating kaleidoscope of styles – a colorful pattern from the early 20th century post-romanticism of Ernest Bloch to the progressive rock-influenced music of Stewart Copeland, founder of the rock band, The Police. In 2013, we will cross the borderlines of opera convention and enter new territories of the unseen and unheard."
About the ambitious step of producing an entire season of unusually diverse operas, Mitisek is comfortable with his decision saying, "LBO's growing, curious audiences are open to new adventures and experiences in often unconventional places. Unlike other companies, we offer an entire season of virtually unknown works which deserve to be performed. It's a 'killer' season in every sense and LBO to its core."
LBO will be staging Glass at the Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro; Ortiz at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach; the double bill of Copeland/ Glass at the EXPO Art Center, Long Beach; and Bloch at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro. Complete cast and production information will be available at a later date.
Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher
On January 27, 2013, the season opens with the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass' The Fall of the House of Usher, a gothic horror story which blurs the line between the real world and the supernatural. From knocks inside a coffin to eerie cello solos to a percussive storm, Glass' haunting 1987 score for Edgar Allan Poe's macabre masterpiece provides the perfect backdrop for this nightmarish journey to The Edge of madness. Ken Cazan, who staged LBO's acclaimed The Cunning Little Vixen, will direct.
Returning to the venue of last season's Maria de Buenos Aires, LBO will present three performances of Usher at the beautiful Warner Grand Theatre. Once called "The Castle of Your Dreams," the art deco movie palace is the perfect venue for this ghostly tale of a mysterious mansion with an apparent life of its own. The opera marks LBO's first co-production with the Chicago Opera Theater (COT) under the joint directorship of Andreas Mitisek. COT will open the work on February 23, 2013.
Gabriela Ortiz' Unicamente la Verdad
On March 24 and March 30, 2013, LBO stages the U.S. premiere of Unicamente la Verdad (Only the Truth), a controversial work dealing with love, drugs and betrayal along the US-Mexican border. Mexico's foremost female composer, Gabriela Ortiz, and her brother, Los Angeles and San Diego-based artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres, created this timely video-opera.
Camelia "la Tejana" and her lover are drug traffickers smuggling marijuana from Mexico to Los Angeles until betrayal by one turns the other into a killer. Based on newspaper accounts and inspired by the ballad "Contrabando y Traición" (Smuggling and Betrayal), this explosive docudrama is set to contemporary music, incorporating the accordion and tuba of Northern Mexican corridos (ballads), and presented against graphic film footage. First developed in a November 2008 workshop at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the final version premiered in 2010 at the Festival de Mexico in Mexico City. Unicamente la Verdad will be staged at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, CA..
Gabriela Ortiz' work has been commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic (conducted by Salonen), the Kronos Quartet, and Dawn Upshaw, among others. Ortiz has won many awards including Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships for Unicamente La Verdad. Rubén Ortiz-Torres' work is widely recognized and part of the Permanent Collections of many museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Besides being a painter, video artist, and photographer, he is on the faculty of the University of California San Diego.