Los Angeles Opera has announced a standards-heavy 2024–2025 season, featuring three well-known classics, the return of a well-received Shakespeare adaptation, and one 21st-century work.
James Conlon’s 19th season as music director will feature new-to-Los Angeles productions of Madame Butterfly, Così fan tutte, and Rigoletto; the return of Ian Judge’s production of Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet; and the company premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s 2003 opera Ainadamar.
If that mix seems a bit out of balance, there’s a reason: A planned world premiere got scrapped due to budgetary concerns. Mason Bates’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a co-commission with the Metropolitan Opera, had been scheduled for October. Instead, it will be staged at Indiana University in November and then at the Met during the 2025–2026 season.
LA Opera CEO Christopher Koelsch cited inflation as the underlying reason for the cancellation.
“Even though ticket sales and donations for the first half of the 2023–2024 season have been healthy, recent revenue growth has not been able to keep pace with escalating costs,” Koelsch explained in a statement. “These factors, combined with our desire to maintain a high level of quality, have led to a reduction of mainstage productions, from six to five.
“We are hoping to return to six mainstage operas in the near future,” he added.
In an apparent coincidence, four of the season’s five productions are set in the 1930s.
The season opens Sept. 21 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, conducted by Conlon and directed by Mario Gas. The production, which originated in Madrid, places the action on a 1930s movie set. Korean soprano Karah Son performs the title role.
Romeo and Juliet, last staged by the company in 2011, returns Nov. 2. Domingo Hindoyan and Lina González-Granados share the conducting duties; Duke Kim and Amina Edris sing the title roles.
Conlon returns to conduct Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte beginning March 8, 2025. The production, set at a swanky country club in the ’30s, debuted at San Francisco Opera in 2021. Critic Steven Winn, on this website, raved that director Michael Cavanagh’s “inventive staging is full of witty and wise choices.” The cast at LA Opera includes Ana María Martinez as Despina and Rod Gilfry as Don Alfonso.
Ainadamar, with music by Golijov and a libretto by playwright David Henry Hwang, opens April 26, 2025. Deborah Colker directs the production, which is originally from Detroit Opera and also scheduled to be staged by the Met in 2024–2025. At LA Opera, González-Granados conducts a cast led by Martinez as Margarita Xirgu and Daniela Mack as Federico García Lorca. An international hit, Ainadamar tells the tragic story of Spanish poet and playwright García Lorca, who was assassinated in 1936, a victim of the fascist Franco regime. It was last staged in Southern California by Long Beach Opera in 2012.
Verdi’s Rigoletto concludes the season May 31–June 21, 2025. Conlon conducts a cast led by Quinn Kelsey in the title role and René Barbera as the Duke of Mantua. Director Tomer Zvulun sets the action in Mussolini’s Italy, in the process giving the story “a gangsterish twist,” according to a review of the production’s 2019 Houston Opera premiere.
The season also includes four recitals at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that feature prominent female vocalists: Kristin Chenoweth on Dec. 14, Kelli O’Hara on Feb. 1, 2025, Angel Blue on March 15, 2025, and Renée Fleming on June 14, 2025. The company also presents three recitals by rising male vocalists at The Wallis in Beverly Hills: French lyric tenor Benjamin Bernheim on Nov. 9, bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green on Jan. 19, 2025, and tenor Joshua Guerrero on June 7, 2025.
More offbeat presentations include the world premiere of a new score for the 1931 Spanish-language film of Dracula, commissioned by LA Opera and composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, Oct. 25–27 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel. The West Coast premiere of Adoration, Mary Kouyoumdjian’s stage adaptation of Atom Egoyan’s 2008 film, takes place Feb. 19–23, 2025, at REDCAT.
Season tickets for the five mainstage shows are now on sale; individual tickets go on sale June 14. For more information, call 213-972-8001 or go to LA Opera’s website.