A Documentary About the Mobile Opera Hopscotch Is Coming on Public Television

Jim Farber on July 12, 2016
Hopscotch’s Phillip King (harp), Jonah Levy (trumpet), and Delaram Kamareh | Credit: Dana Ross

Nine months ago a fleet of 24 limousines and a cast of 126 performers presented Hopscotch, a mobile opera that defied all the rules. Its multiple plotlines and musical encounters were, by design, presented out of sequence in a manner that was so nonlinear that every audience member experienced the piece differently. It was so intimate that only four people at a time could travel from chapter to chapter (accompanied by the performers) along one of three entirely different routes: Red, Green and Yellow.

Hopscotch, conceived by six writers and six composers, and produced by Yuval Sharon and his company, The Industry, was as vast and varied as the landscapes and architecture that provided backdrops for the action — whether it was a cemetery in Boyle Heights, the banks of the Los Angeles River, or the cavernous derelict interior of the Million Dollar Theater.

On Tuesday, July 19, at 9 p.m., Los Angeles Public Television station KCET will present Hopscotch: An Opera for the 21st Century documenting the process of its creation and presentation. The program will also be streamed on Link TV nationwide and can be viewed on DIRECTV 375 and Dish Network 9410. Produced as part of KCET’s “Artbound” series, the documentary features scenes from the opera and interviews with production staff, composers, writers, performers, and audience members.

Despite the immense complexity of Hopscotch, Sharon said prior to a preview screening that he never doubted that the work would be presented.

“It was always such a flexible modular idea that as soon as one piece would be drawn out of it, there would be another avenue we could take, quite literally. If we couldn’t drive down one street, we took the next one over. If there was a site we wanted to activate and we couldn’t (Dodger Stadium was a big loss) we chose another one. The scale may have been shrinking and expanding, but we always knew we were going to find a way to make this happen.”

For Sharon, Hopscotch was an opera of surprise, where, in the best John Cage tradition, anything could happen.

“We wanted to show people that an environment they drive through day in and day out could be the site for surprise and possibility. By weaving through the diverse segments of LA and working with artists from every cultural background, what we wanted to do was not just create an opera, but in a way create a microcosm of Los Angeles.” 

A studio recording of Hopscotch featuring the music of Veronika Krausas, Marc Lowenstein, Andrew McIntosh, Andrew Norman, Ellen Reid, and David Rosenboom will be released in January.  

Read more about Hopscotch at the opera’s website. Read a review of Hopscotch.

Hopscotch on the roof