As LBO’s ‘Hydrogen’ wraps up this season, they’re prepping for 2016

It’s a big week for Long Beach Opera, as they’re debuting their season finale on Saturday night, and announced next year’s season earlier this week:

The 2016 season

Next year brings four operas, including Bernstein, Poulenc, a timely world premiere and a “techno-video-pop opera” that will all challenge the way you look at the world.  Details follow from the press release:

Long Beach Opera’s Outside-the-Box Productions go ‘IN’ in 2016

Announcing LBO’s 2016 Season
Four Unexpected Experiences
including a World Premiere, a West Coast Premiere, and a Video-Pop Opera


May 28, 2015 (Long Beach, CA) – Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek announces Long Beach Opera’s 2016 season: a new production of the 1974 version of Leonard Bernstein’s comic operetta Candide, winner of four Tony Awards; the world premiere of Tobin Stokes’ Fallujah, with a libretto by Iraqi-American Heather Raffo, based on the story of a US Marine and his experience during the Iraq war; Suzan Hanson starring in Francis Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice), a moving monodrama about unrequited love; and the West Coast premiere of the video-pop opera The News by Jacob TV – the Andy Warhol of new music.

The 2016 season will take LBO to a variety of unconventional locations, including Fallujah’s staging in the Long Beach National Guard Armory and La Voix Humaine at a popular underground nightclub in a former bank building.

Mitisek says, “Next year is 100% LBO, a season that is “IN”: Insidious–Intriguing–Intense– Inquisitive–Infamous–Insightful–Indulging–Inspiring. These works make us see the world in a different light, and make us ask questions where we previously thought we knew all the answers. We know our audiences will see the world in a different way after they’ve spent some time with these characters. And, as always with LBO – Expect the Unexpected.”


Subscriptions go on sale Thursday, May 28, 2015 and are available from the LBO Ticket Services at 562-432-5934 and online at

Why buy early?

Early bird subscribers who claim their places by June 15th will have handling fees waived and get first priority for seating at the various venues.


2016_LBO_CandideCANDIDE (1974 version)

Composer: Leonard Bernstein

Book by Hugh Wheeler (based on Voltaire)

Lyrics: Richard Wilbur with additional lyrics by John La Touche and Stephen Sondheim

DATES: Two Performances: Jan 23 & Jan 30, 2016
VENUE: Center Theater, Long Beach

The original 1956 work was nominated for three Tonys, including Outstanding Musical. The 1974 version was nominated for seven Tonys (winning four, including Best Director and Best Book). Candide is based on Voltaire’s biting satire of innocence, optimism, and the unexpected lessons of life. Dr. Pangloss teaches his pupils — the happy bastard Candide, the adoring and cunning Cunegonde, the vain Maximilian, and the always available Paquette — that this is “the best of all possible worlds.” Shortly thereafter, Candide is exiled from home, dragged into the Bulgarian army, brought before the Spanish Inquisition, swindled out of a fortune, shipwrecked and separated from his true love Cunegonde. Bernstein’s witty score embraces everything from Viennese waltzes to rhythmic Latin dances.

2016_LBO_FallujahFALLUJAH (World Premiere)

Composer: Tobin Stokes

Librettist: Heather Raffo

DATES: Seven Performances: March 12 to March 20, 2016
VENUE: Long Beach National Guard Armory

Canadian composer Tobin Stokes (born 1966) and Iraqi-American playwright Heather Raffo based their opera on US Marine Christian Ellis’ war experience in Iraq. The opera’s characters are inspired by people Ellis encountered, including his fallen comrades. In 2004 Christian Ellis was a young US Marine fighting in the Iraq War. He suffered a broken back when his platoon was ambushed and was one of the few survivors. When he eventually returned home, he found himself battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The opera Fallujah began with a generous grant to City Opera Vancouver from Charles Annenberg Weingarten and, a philanthropic media division of the Annenberg Foundation.

From the front lines of Iraq comes this personal story of trauma, anguish, and inspiration. On both sides of the battleground, mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters are saying goodbye to each other. After Fallujah, their lives will never be the same. War is a nightmare from which no one emerges unscathed and where the deepest wounds are mental scars which do not heal.

While in Fallujah, a young Marine meets an Iraqi boy whose acquaintance with American soldiers results in tragedy. After returning home, the Marine suffers a series of vivid flashbacks that take him back to the violence he experienced on the battlefield. He cannot bear to face his mother who longs to reunite with her son. Ultimate survival depends on his finding a way to live with himself and reconnect with the outside world. As the soldier relives his painful memories, a simple gesture from the Iraqi child becomes the catalyst through which he remembers how to live.

2016_LBO_VoixLA VOIX HUMAINE (1959)

Composer: Francis Poulenc

Librettist: Jean Cocteau

DATES: Seven Performances: April 8 to April 17, 2016
VENUE: The Underground at the Federal Bar, Long Beach

This one-woman opera is based on the 1930 play of the same name by Jean Cocteau. Poulenc’s “Lyric Tragedy” premiered in 1959. “I’m writing an opera – you know what it’s about: a woman (me) is making a last telephone call to her lover who is getting married the next day.” Poulenc had recently gone through a breakup himself and described the opera as a “musical confession.”

A woman. A broken heart. A telephone. It is late at night and a distraught woman is on the phone with her lover of five years. Tomorrow he will marry her rival. Tonight she clings to their final conversation – her grief gradually consuming her as the call reaches its surprising conclusion. This dramatic monologue of great emotional range and power is based on a play by Jean Cocteau: …the telephone is sometimes more dangerous than the revolver, its tangled cord drains us of our strength, while giving us nothing in return.

Poulenc’s operatic tour de force will star LBO veteran soprano Suzan Hanson, whose major roles at the company include her recent appearances in Therèse Raquin, Bloch’s Macbeth, The Death of Klinghoffer, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Medea.

2016_LBO_The NEWSTHE NEWS (West Coast Premiere)

Composer: Jacob TV

Videos: Jan Boiten, Kristien Kerstens and JacobTV

DATES: Two Performances: June 18 & June 26, 2016
VENUE: TBA in Hollywood, Los Angeles

Dutch composer Jacob TV (Jacob Ter Veldhuis, 1951) commented about his opera, The News: “The media are social institutions with a duty in society, but they have also become an industry that wants to make a profit. A lot of news has become infotainment, sometimes drenched with emotion. A lot what we see on TV has been manipulated in some kind of way. A nonstop mixture of reality and imagination. The NEWS libretto has not been ‘written’, but it just comes into being, by selecting ready-made clips from the endless stream of ‘found footage’ from the media. I use the melody and rhythm of speech samples as the leitmotif for the opera. I translate speech into musical notation. I try to zoom in on people’s thoughts and feelings, in search for meaning. The meaning of words is essential, and by turning speech into music, I am able to express ‘the indescribable’, since music has the power to deepen the essence of language and image in an abstract way.”

This brilliant Video-Opera slices and dices our daily news footage leaving nothing untouched – politics, the economy, religion, war, showbiz, even women’s makeup infomercials. Singing anchors and commentators serve it up on a score that blends classical, world, blues, jazz and rock. Filled with bitterly funny irony, the opera holds a mirror to our society addicted to an endless stream of news and what passes for news. Stinging political parody, calculated to offend liberals and conservatives alike… Can we distinguish any longer between what’s real and what’s phony, what’s important and what’s trivial?   — Chicago Tribune

Not done yet

The season finale is still in the works:

Catch Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg’s Hydrogen Jukebox, a psychedelic journey through thirty years of American history. Two of the four shows (including tonight’s) are currently sold out, but grab tickets to the evening performances on June 6 & 7 asap. 2015_LBO_hydrogen_logoThe dynamic cast includes poet Michael Shamus Wiles, sopranos Jamie Chamberlin and Ashley Knight, mezzo-soprano Karin Musegain, tenor Todd Strange, baritone Roberto Perlas Gomez and bass Jason Switzer. Get a glimpse of rehearsals and sound bites in this mini-trailer:

Artistic and General Director: Andreas Mitisek
507 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, CA. 90802/ / 562-432-5934

For additional information about the season, please visit

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