Long Beach Opera announces 2023 season

[press release]






Music and Libretto by Kate Soper
Christopher Rountree, conductor
James Darrah, director
Warner Grand Theater, San Pedro
February 18 & 19, 25, 2023

Created and performed by Chris Emile
Music and sound design by Cody Perkins
Developed with and commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)
Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach
March 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 2023

A baroque banquet based on G.F. Handel’s Alessandro
Starring Jakub Józef Orliński
and the Martha Graham Dance Company
Outdoor site-specific venue TBA
May 20 & 21, 2023

The 2023 Long Beach Opera + Film Festival
Featuring a NEW STAGING of Franz Schubert’s
song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin
in tandem with the animated film Christopher at Sea by Tom C. J. Brown,
and the WORLD PREMIERE The Recital, a new film
written and directed by James Darrah, score by Christopher Rountree,
starring and co-created by Measha Brueggergosman
The Art Theatre, Long Beach
June 24 & 25, 2023

Long Beach | October 12, 2022 – Building on Long Beach Opera’s legacy of pushing operatic boundaries and boldly taking performance into uncharted territories, the 2023 Season continues to bring new energy and relevance to the form with a series of surprising, immersive, and accessible operatic experiences. These new works and new interpretations of seldom-staged pieces from the repertoire see the company further exploring the currents of opera that leading composers/makers in the field are creating today, sparking a dialogue between opera and a diverse range of mediums including dance, film, cuisine, live performance art, animation, and more. These mediums, folded into the fabric of the season, provide fruitful territory for a deeper collision with opera and emphasize the generative and often surprising results that arise when creating multimedia and multi-sensory artistic experiences.

The season begins in February with a world premiere by Kate Soper, THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, directed by James Darrah and conducted by Christopher Rountree. In March, LBO will present THE HORSE, a newly devised ritualistic dance-opera created and performed by Chris Emile with a new score by Cody Perkins. In May, LBO will present THE FEAST, a baroque banquet featuring the music of G.F. Handel and based on his seldom-staged opera Alessandro, starring superstar countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński with choreography and dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company.

The season will close with THE RECITAL, LBO’s 2023 Opera & Film Festival, featuring a new live staging of Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin in a double bill with the lauded short film Christopher at Sea, inspired by the same Schubert cycle and directed by Tom C. J. Brown. The festival will also include a world premiere film called The Recital, co-created by James Darrah, Christopher Rountree, and soprano Measha Brueggergosman, inspired by Luciano Berio’s theater piece Recital I (for Cathy).

LBO is also thrilled to announce new multi-year artistic partnerships with the Martha Graham Dance Company and Composer-in-Residence Shelley Washington.

Artistic Director James Darrah adds: “2023 marks the start of establishing Long Beach Opera as a new creative home in Southern California where both established and emerging artists can come together to create, experiment, and push the form forward. It’s about recommitting to opera’s role as a bold merger of all of the arts and empowering the season’s artists to explore what “opera” can mean to them and their work. Each project is led collaboratively, curated, and created by teams of culture makers who defy singular definition but all grapple with questions of how continually evolving and intersecting artistic mediums shape and redefine their individual practices, expand the operatic form, and impact the world at large.”

Information about season tickets at longbeachopera.org

ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE beginning in 2023:

Composer in Residence
Washington, whose work with LBO includes composing an episode of the 2021 operatic miniseries desert in and creating new orchestrations for Handel’s Giustino in 2022, becomes the company’s new composer in residence for two years. During her residency, she will write her first full-length operatic work, Nell, based on the shocking true story of Nell Theobald and her obsession with opera singer Birgit Nilsson. The opera will have its world premiere at LBO in 2024 in a production directed by James Darrah.

Artistic Partnership
Utilizing Martha Graham’s own body of choreography, fragments of unfinished pieces from their archives, and the Graham Company’s ongoing foray into diverse, new choreography, this partnership will explore new work and create new productions for LBO, both in the LA area and for venues on tour. James Darrah and Christopher Rountree will work with Janet Eilber, the Graham Company’s artistic director, and their superb roster of dancers and guest choreographers to craft a three-year partnership between LBO and the Graham Company that explores a deeper connection between dance and opera.


FEBRUARY 18, 19, 25 || Warner Grand Theater, San Pedro
An opera in two acts and two epilogues
Libretto and Music by Kate Soper
Conducted by Christopher Rountree
Directed by James Darrah

The singular compositional voice of Kate Soper returns to LBO after Voices from the Killing Jar (2021) in a thrilling new world premiere production that blends an oft-neglected sense of comedy in opera with a genre-smashing adventure story of fantastical proportions. Soper herself sets the piece’s namesake 13th-century poem as a boundary-breaking, evening-length work that defies all categorization. In a thrilling opus that examines one Dreamer’s quest for a literal rose, The God of Love, Shame, Lady Reason, and their cadre of followers lull the audience into a dreamlike world that deftly highlights the profound juxtaposition of beauty and absurdity in our own human folly.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Soper fills her newest opera with music that defies tradition and will envelop the theater in new ways with a blend of modernistic shrieks and wails, madrigalistic finery, auto-tuned didacticism, and lush Romanticism. The world premiere production, directed by James Darrah, will inhabit multiple spaces within the historic art deco Warner Grand Theater. Darrah, who is known for creating successful world premiere productions for composers including Ellen Reid, Missy Mazzoli and John Corigliano, will be joined by conductor and LBO Music Director Christopher Rountree in guiding the orchestra outside of the normal pit and onstage into the show itself. The Romance of the Rose freely beguiles, charms, and terrifies with no moral allegiances or moral compass and promises to lead audiences thrillingly astray.

An intimate, meditative operatic ritual
Developed with and commissioned by LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division)
March 4 & 5,11 & 12 || Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach
Created and performed by Chris Emile
Original music and sound design by Cody Perkins
Vocals by Alevonallure | Lighting Design by Jason Fox
Featuring a circle of West African drumming with guidance from Vodun practitioners

Choreographer and dancer Chris Emile, last seen at LBO creating the innovative choreography for Les Enfants Terribles (2021), returns to live performance with an intimate new work that combines Emile’s exceptional movement direction with operatic ritual. Audiences are invited to partake in a meditative and captivating experience driven forward by a raucous, irreverent original score and soundscape by Cody Perkins and astonishing vocals by cross-genre performer Alevonallure.

The Horse evokes the supernatural experience of spiritual possession. In Vodun tradition, a “horse” describes a person who has been possessed and is being “ridden” by a possessing deity. In combining somatic practice with theology and research into the origins of ballet, Emile reassesses how traditional balletic training regards the role of the performer/dancer. The resulting work embodies ancestral knowledge, reverence for African religions, and the human-divine connection while reclaiming the relationship between body and spirit as all are invited to witness and experience in this shared catharsis.

A baroque banquet inspired by G. F. Handel’s 1726 opera Alessandro
MAY 20 & 21 || Outdoor, site specific location
Starring Jakub Józef Orliński
and the Martha Graham Dance Company

In its first collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance Company, LBO presents The Feast, a dance ritual and baroque banquet that sets Handel’s seldom-staged opera rarity Alessandro in a site-specific outdoor location. Following an hour of cocktails and performances, audiences will be led by the Graham Company to an open-air banquet where they will continue drinking and feasting to live music and dance performances that envelop and disrupt the banquet’s proceedings in surprising ways.

The Feast features superstar Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, who makes his Southern California stage debut in this evening of Handel’s music presented with early music chamber orchestra accompaniment. Orliński will sing and even dance with the Martha Graham Dance Company for the first time. The Graham Company will be working to activate a unique location with choreography that pays homage to Graham’s own deep sense of Greek ritual, mythology, and the sacred power of dance and early music to enchant and enthrall.

The 2023 LB Opera & Film Festival: a fusion of live art song and film
JUNE 24 & 25 || The Art Theatre, Long Beach
SPECIAL SCREENINGS of Tom C. J. Brown’s animated film Christopher at Sea (2022)
A NEW LIVE STAGING of Franz Schubert’s 1823 song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin directed by Raviv Ullman and Tom C. J. Brown
THE WORLD PREMIERE of The Recital, a new film written and directed by James Darrah, starring and co-created by Measha Brueggergosman, and composed and co-created by Christopher Rountree

For its second annual Opera & Film Festival, LBO presents two full days of events that explore the intersection of film and opera with new live stagings and a robust and unexpected slate of filmic programming centered around historical art song and poetry. Anchoring the expanded festival is a new production and staging of Schubert’s 1823 song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin paired with the 2022 short film Christopher at Sea, which recently premiered at the prestigious Venice International Film Festival. Both are conceived by acclaimed British director, animator, and film festival darling Tom C. J. Brown. The new staging of the song cycle will be performed live in a new production co-directed by Brown and Raviv Ullman. In order to make Christopher at Sea, Brown lived in his film’s setting: on a large cargo vessel at sea and used historic recordings of Schubert’s song cycle as constant inspiration for the queer-focused intimate story, the score and the mood of his animated short. The LB Opera & Film Festival will present an original staged new production of the Schubert cycle followed by a screening of the film, uniquely linking these two works of art in two different mediums crafted 200 years apart.

The festival will also feature the world premiere of The Recital, a new film inspired by Luciano Berio’s wild 1972 work Recital I (for Cathy) with an original screenplay and new score crafted using pieces from the wide-ranging career of powerhouse singer Measha Brueggergosman. Written and directed by James Darrah, who the Wall Street Journal praised for his operatic film work that is “experimenting and forging a new art form” and premiering a new score composed by Christopher Rountree, The Recital continues Darrah’s commitment to the exploration of operatic cinema at LBO and brings the singular talents of Brueggergosman to Long Beach in a unique filmic medium.
Additional programming for the full festival will be announced at a later date.


Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire. 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 both commissioned and staged. Founded in 1979, it is the oldest professional opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 110 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to new operas of the 21st. LBO’s ever‐growing repertoire has provided stimulus for the subsequent founding of other local opera companies, catapulting Southern California into the spotlight as a major opera epicenter of innovation and new music. LBO is a recognized and respected member of the U. S. cultural community, receiving funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach, along with generous support from individual donors, local businesses, public corporations, and private foundations.

Supported in part by funding from the City of Long Beach

Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

Long Beach Opera receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Opera America


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