Los Angeles Opera / Music News & Info: Classical

More about LA Opera: first 2017/18 production announced, plus how about a contract extension for Grant Gershon?

Tosca BTS - Placido Domingo and Grant Gershon

This past weekend’s press release from Los Angeles Opera about Music Director James Conlon’s latest contract extension through the end of the 2020/2021 season included statements from General Director Plácido Domingo, Board Chair Marc Stern, and Mr. Conlon himself.

One person who was not quoted was the company’s Resident Conductor, Grant Gershon, so I asked him for his thoughts.  He had this to say:

“This is such great news for LA and for all of us who love making music with James! I’m extremely proud of the myriad musical highlights of LA Opera under James’ leadership and I’m happy that we can continue this marked upward trajectory for several more years (at least!).”

Speaking of Mr. Gershon and Los Angeles Opera, it’s worth noting that his own contract with LA Opera currently expires at the end of this 2016/17 season (!).  Let’s hope for the sake of the company and those that attend its performances that he’ll be retained.  I understand from multiple reliable sources (none of which are Mr. Gershon himself) that he will be on the LA Opera podium this coming 2017/2018 season, so at least he’ll still be involved with them in some way in the near future.  Incidentally, his contract as Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale currently goes to the 2020, so he’ll definitely still be making his presence felt at the Music Center through at least the end of the decade.

That said, he continues to expand his involvement with other arts organizations.  His interpretation of John Adams’ El Niño with the Los Angeles Philharmonic this past December was absolutely first-rate.  More notably perhaps, San Francisco Opera just announced that he will make his company debut conducting the world premiere of Mr. Adams’  Girls of The Golden West, a new opera based on different source material than the David Belasco play which inspired Puccini’s La fanciulla del West; it will run for eight performances at War Memorial Opera House beginning on Nov 21, 2017; Peter Sellars, last seen in Southern California putting the Master Chorale through their paces in Lagrime di San Pietro at the beginning of their season, will direct.


LA Opera is planning to fully announce their own 2017/2018 season this coming Monday (exact time still TBD), but they’ve already made one of the productions publicly known:  Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, in a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and featuring a first-ever collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet, the famed Chicago troupe which was a one-time co-resident company at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion before decamping in the early ’90’s under a mountain of debt before successfully re-inventing itself and landing in the Windy City.

John Neumeier, director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet, will direct and design the sets, costumes, and lighting.  This will also mark the first time that either company will perform the 1774 Paris version of this work, Orphée et Eurydice.

There will be six performances  of the at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion running May 10-25, 2018.  Mr. Conlon will conduct.  The title roles will be sung by Russian tenor Maxim Mironov and American soprano Lisette Oropesa, respectively.  Neither singer is new to LA Opera:  Mr. Mironov made his company debut in 2011 as Don Narciso in Il turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy) by Rossini, while Ms. Oropesa first appeared with the company in 2014 in the role of Rosalba for Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas.  Soprano Liv Redpath, a member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, will sing the role of Love.

The production actually begins its run in Chicago, with seven performances in September and October of this year.  Harry Bicket conducts a different cast.  After Los Angeles, it travels to Hamburg for shows in February 2019 featuring the Hamburg Ballet.

Full press release is after the links below.



Photo credit:  courtesy of Los Angeles Opera


LA Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago present a new co-production of Orpheus and Eurydice, featuring first-time collaboration with the Joffrey Ballet

Legendary choreographer John Neumeier directs, choreographs and designs this new production of Gluck’s classic masterpiece

Lyric’s Civic Opera House, Chicago (Sep 23 – Oct 15, 2017)
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles (March 10 – 25, 2018)
Staatsoper Hamburg (Feb 3 – 19, 2019)

(Los Angeles) January 17, 2017 – LA Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago announce a new co-production of Orpheus and Eurydice (Orphée et Eurydice), composer Christoph Willibald Gluck’s most popular work, to be directed by John Neumeier, the internationally acclaimed director and chief choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet. The Joffrey Ballet will be featured in performances at both Lyric Opera and LA Opera. This will be the first collaboration between Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera and The Joffrey Ballet.

Orpheus and Eurydice will be presented in the U.S. twice: first in Chicago at Lyric’s Civic Opera House, opening the 2017/18 season, September 23 through October 15, 2017, and then in Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, March 10 through 25, 2018. Staatsoper Hamburg, one of Germany’s leading companies, will additionally stage the production at Hamburgische Staatsoper with members of the Hamburg Ballet from February 3 through 19, 2019.

John Neumeier, a Milwaukee native and one of the most influential choreographers of our time, has worked with leading dance and opera companies around the world including the Paris Opera, American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi Ballet and London’s Royal Ballet. Most recently, Neumeier worked with The Joffrey Ballet, upon whom he set the North American premiere of the full-length story ballet Sylvia in October 2015.

Orpheus and Eurydice is as moving a drama as exists in opera. The reforms and changes in operatic composition represented by this work, in its distillation to what Gluck described as “beautiful simplicity,” affected the entire course of the art form’s development. Very little operatic repertoire positions the dance element as the equivalent to song, which are the hallmarks of the 1774 Paris version of this work. This revision found Gluck adding much important ballet music (including the riveting “Dance of the Furies” and the exquisite “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”), creating a vital dance element that immeasurably enhances the drama. Gluck also reworked Orpheus’s music—written for alto castrato—for the tenor voice. The composer’s additions to the role include an aria in which Orpheus declares himself ready to face the perils of the Underworld. Moments like this imbue the role with a degree of virtuosity that is formidably challenging for the singer, but also hugely exciting for audiences. The tenor voice gives Orpheus the quality of heroism, which is also vitally important in this work.

The presentation of the 1774 Paris version of this work is a first for both Lyric Opera and LA Opera.

Lyric’s production will feature Russian tenor Dmitry Korchak as Orpheus, Canadian soprano Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice, and American soprano Lauren Snouffer as Amour (Love). Orpheus will be led by British conductor Harry Bicket, noted for his interpretation of baroque and classical repertoire.

The LA Opera performances will be conducted by James Conlon, the company’s Richard Seaver Music Director, and the cast will be led by Russian tenor Maxim Mironov and American soprano Lisette Oropesa in the title roles. Mr. Mironov made his Los Angeles debut in 2011 as Don Narciso in Rossini’s The Turk in Italy. Ms. Oropesa made her first appearance with LA Opera in 2014, when she performed the role of Rosalba in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. The role of Love will be performed by soprano Liv Redpath, a member of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. In both cities, the sets, costumes and lighting are designed by the director, John Neumeier.

Lyric Opera of Chicago will present Orpheus and Eurydice in seven performances, September 23 through October 15, 2017, at Lyric’s Civic Opera House (20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago). Tickets will be available as part of a subscription package for Lyric’s 2017/18 season, available on February 7  at LyricOpera.org or at 312.827.5600 as Lyric announces its entire season. Individual tickets will go on sale in July 2017.

LA Opera will present Orpheus and Eurydice in six performances, from March 10 through 25, 2018, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles). Tickets start at $15 for adults and $7.50 for children and will be available, as part of a subscription package, on January 23, 2017, at LAOpera.org or at 213.972.8001. LA Opera and Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center will each showcase The Joffrey Ballet at the Music Center during the month of March 2018. The entire 2017/18 LA Opera season will be announced on January 23, 2017. Individual tickets will go on sale in June 2017.

Performances at both locations will be in French with projected English translations.

“It has been a longstanding dream of the artistic leadership of LA Opera to recruit John Neumeier to our ranks of supremely gifted collaborators,” said Plácido Domingo, the Eli and Edythe Broad General Director of LA Opera. “We have long admired the power of his visual storytelling, the refinement of his aesthetic taste and his supreme emotional sensitivity in his acclaimed work with the Hamburg Ballet. I will never forget my experience working under the direction of John for a truly memorable production of Otello, conducted by Carlos Kleiber.  I know that he will bring a uniquely insightful, humane and poignant emotional interpretation to one of the operatic repertoire’s most enduring tragedies. LA Opera is honored to collaborate with Lyric Opera in bringing Gluck’s masterpiece to life on our stage; Orpheus represents only the second time that these two important forces in American opera have come together to create a co-production. We are also especially thrilled to partner for the first time with The Joffrey Ballet, whose participation will make Orpheus a truly magical experience for our audiences.”

“I cannot imagine a more exciting way to open Lyric’s 2017/18 season than with this new production of Orpheus and Eurydice,” adds Anthony Freud, Lyric’s General Director, President & CEO. “Lyric’s first collaboration with The Joffrey Ballet represents a momentous partnership between two of Chicago’s greatest cultural institutions. I have admired the work of John Neumeier for more than 30 years, and I am thrilled that he will be returning to Lyric 57 years after he made his debut as a dancer with the company (in the world premiere of Giannini’s The Harvest). This is the first time in Lyric’s history that a new production will be directed, choreographed and fully designed (sets, costumes and lighting) by a single artist. John Neumeier is a true master in all these disciplines, as well as being one of the most iconic legends in the world of ballet and dance. Conducted by Harry Bicket, and with our wonderful cast, this production of Orpheus will be unforgettable.”

“As a choreographer, I’ve always been fascinated by emotion as the primary source of movement in my choreography,” said John Neumeier. “What originally drew me to Orpheus was the fascinating discrepancy between an imaginary, mythical story and the very human, the very realistic emotional structure. It is love that ultimately proves to be Orpheus’ strength as well as his fatal weakness. Melding chorus, moving scenery, realistic and fantastic costumes and music with a strong focus on ballet, I hope to emphasize the mythical element of the story while bringing it closer to audiences by giving the production a contemporary setting. I look very much to realizing this complex, many-faceted production combining the artists of these important cultural institutions: the Lyric Opera, LA Opera and The Joffrey Ballet.”

“This is an incredibly rare and special time for audiences worldwide to explore the unique choreographic language of John Neumeier,” adds Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. “John understands dance as a living art form, frequently updating his work in a way that resonates with contemporary audiences. The story of Orpheus is hundreds of years old, yet this production captures the humanity shared by all generations. After working with John to present the North American premiere of his powerful story ballet Sylvia, I’ve seen firsthand his ability to make classic stories mean something to us today. We’re thrilled to collaborate with John once again and look forward to a new partnership with the Lyric Opera this fall.”

About Lyric Opera of Chicago
Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

To learn more about Lyric’s new season, go to LyricOpera.org. You can also join the conversation with @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1617 #LongLivePassion

About LA Opera
In just three decades of existence, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies. Under the leadership of Plácido Domingo (Eli and Edythe Broad General Director), James Conlon (Richard Seaver Music Director) and Christopher Koelsch (President and CEO), the company is dedicated to staging imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions and inventive stagings of the classics that preserve the foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling.

In addition to its mainstage performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company explores unusual repertoire each season through the LA Opera Off Grand initiative, performed in a variety of venues throughout Los Angeles. The company also presents a robust variety of educational programming and innovative community engagement offerings, experienced by more than 135,000 people each season. To learn more, please visit LAOpera.org. You can join the conversation with @LAOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #LAO32

About The Joffrey Ballet
Classically trained to the highest standards, The Joffrey Ballet expresses a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company, audiences, and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works.

The company’s commitment to accessibility is met through an extensive touring schedule, an innovative and highly effective education program including the much-lauded Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet, community engagement programs, and collaborations with myriad other visual and performing arts organizations.

Founded by visionary teacher Robert Joffrey in 1956, guided by celebrated choreographer Gerald Arpino from 1988 until 2007, The Joffrey Ballet continues to thrive under internationally renowned Artistic Director Ashley Wheater and Executive Director Greg Cameron. To learn more, visit Joffrey.org.

About John Neumeier
John Neumeier, a Milwaukee native, trained in his hometown and created his first choreography at Marquette University. After completing his studies in Copenhagen and London, he joined Stuttgart Ballet in 1963. He enjoyed a hugely successful four-year tenure as director of Ballet Frankfurt before his appointment at the Hamburg Ballet, where he has been director and chief choreographer as the Hamburg Ballet since 1973. Neumeier has also worked as guest choreographer with many companies, including London’s Royal Ballet, the Vienna, Munich and Dresden State Opera companies, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Paris Opera, Tokyo Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Canada, Mariinsky Theater, Bolshoi Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet, among others. Neumeier’s many honors include the Dance Magazine Award, Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, French Order of Arts and Letters and the Legion of Honour, Nijinsky Award for Lifetime Achievement, Herbert von Karajan Musikpreis, Deutscher Jubiläums Tanzpreis, Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation, and most recently the 2015 Kyoto Prize.

About Staatsoper Hamburg
The Hamburg State Opera is one of the leading opera houses in Europe. Outstanding opera and ballet productions are on the varied program, which spans nearly 400 years of music history. Under the artistic direction of opera director Georges Delnon and the Hamburg general music director and chief conductor of the Philharmonic State Orchestra Kent Nagano, the company has set itself the target of showing a personal and recognizable profile in the awareness of the significant tradition of the institution in the tension between careful cultivation of a wide repertoire and remarkable passion.

To learn more, please visit staatsoper-hamburg.de. You can join the conversation with #staatsoperHH on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

About the Hamburg Ballet
The Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier is famous far beyond the city of Hamburg. International tours have made it not only a highlight of the international ballet scene, but also one of Germany’s most important cultural ambassadors. The heart of the company is Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer John Neumeier, who has directed the company since 1973. Neumeier is a master at combining classical ballet tradition with contemporary forms in his works, while developing a unique personal choreographic language.

Since 1975, the dance festival Hamburg Ballet Days has provided the high point and finale of every season. The festival traditionally ends with the Nijinsky Gala, featuring guest appearances by international stars of the dance scene as well as the entire Hamburg Ballet ensemble.

To learn more, please visit hamburgballett.de. You can join the conversation with #hamburgballet on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

LA Opera is a non-profit organization
dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.

Yamaha is the Official Piano of LA Opera.


LA Opera Media Contact
Fran Rizzi, Director of Public Relations
frizzi@laopera.org / 213.972.7554

Lyric Opera of Chicago Media Contact
Holly H. Gilson, Deputy Director of Communications
hgilson@lyricopera.org / 312.827.5939

The Joffrey Ballet Media Contact
Caitlin Jagodzinski / Beth Silverman, The Silverman Group, Inc.
caitlin@silvermangroupchicago.com / 312.932.9950

Staatsoper Hamburg Media Contact
Dr. Michael Bellgardt, Press Officer
michael.bellgardt@staatsoper-hamburg.de / +49 40 35 68 406

Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier Media Contact
Dr. Jörn Rieckhoff, Head of Communications/PR and Dramaturgy
joern.rieckhoff@hamburgballett.de / +49 (0) 40 21 11 88-29

One thought on “More about LA Opera: first 2017/18 production announced, plus how about a contract extension for Grant Gershon?

  1. Pingback: LA Opera announces rest of 2017/18 season | All is Yar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.