The city of Los Angeles – once the only major city in the United States without a resident opera company – is now a vibrant, international opera capital. Growing rapidly since its inaugural production in 1986, LA Opera has become the nation’s fourth largest opera company, a renowned producer of works from the classical and contemporary repertoires.
By far the youngest of the country’s major opera companies, LA Opera now “stands out as a newly important force in American opera,” according to Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed, representing a “bold new era” for the operatic art form and for the cultural opportunities available to Los Angeles audiences and members of the community. Essential to LA Opera’s achievement of this mission are the vision and energy of its general director, superstar tenor Plácido Domingo. In 2006, James Conlon became LA Opera’s new music director, succeeding Kent Nagano, who had held that position since 2003.
Presenting benchmark productions of standard repertoire as well as new and rarely-staged operas, the company brings together world-renowned singers, designers, directors and conductors to create opera that attracts the attention of international audiences and critics. With the 2007 launch of the Recovered Voices series, LA Opera became the only major opera company in the world to regularly program the works of composers affected by the Holocaust. This series has presented the U.S. premieres of Viktor Ullmann’s The Broken Jug and Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized) as well as the west coast premieres of Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf and Walter Braunfels’ The Birds. In 2010, LA Opera presented its first complete performances of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring cycle. Other highlights of recent seasons include the celebrated 2010 world premiere of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino, starring Mr. Domingo as Pablo Neruda.
LA Opera’s 2012/13 season features the first major U.S. staging in four decades of Verdi’s I Due Foscari as well as five other operas returning to the company’s repertoire. All six of these productions are completely new to Los Angeles. Four productions will be conducted by Mr. Conlon; Mr. Domingo and Resident Conductor Grant Gershon will also conduct during the season.
Complementing and supporting the company’s artistic product is the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, which has the goal of developing the talents of exceptionally gifted young artists to become performers of potentially international stature. The program will combine comprehensive vocal training with consistent employment in both understudying as well as performing roles. By providing emerging artists with the opportunity to refine their skills, build a repertoire and develop an audience for their work at a major American opera company, LA Opera is cultivating a new generation of opera artists in a supportive and constructive environment.