The Dwarf
A scene from LA Opera’s 2008 production of Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf | Credit: Robert Millard

Since its inception in 2007, Los Angeles Opera’s Recovered Voices project has focused on music that was suppressed by the Nazis and/or created by composers who died in the Holocaust. For its 2023–2024 season, the company has expanded the project’s reach.

From Feb. 24 – March 17, 2024, Music Director James Conlon will conduct a double bill of Alexander Zemlinsky’s The Dwarf and William Grant Still’s Highway 1, U.S.A. Zemlinsky was an Austrian who escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to America; Still was a mid-20th-century African American composer whose long-ignored works are currently getting a second look.

“My interest is in bringing back neglected music — particularly music where we know the composer was, to a greater or lesser extent, neglected because of political or racial prejudice,” Conlon said in an interview. “So it is an extension of the same concept. Because of prejudice, this music is not as well known as it deserves to be.”

William Grant Still
William Grant Still

This will be LA Opera’s first production of Highway 1, U.S.A., a story of discord between two brothers that enjoyed a critically acclaimed staging at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2021. Conlon and LA Opera presented The Dwarf in 2008.

“I consider The Dwarf to be one of the great operas of the 20th century,” Conlon said. “So I’m thrilled it’s coming back in one of my favorite productions [of my tenure here].”

The company’s 38th season — which will be Conlon’s 18th as music director — will feature six mainstage productions and five concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, along with ancillary performances in smaller venues. The schedule will include four standard-repertory operas, all in productions new to Los Angeles: Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Lucas Meachem in the title role (Sept. 23 – Oct. 15); Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, featuring Isabel Leonard (Oct. 21 – Nov. 12); Verdi’s La traviata, starring Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Violetta (April 6–27, 2024); and Puccini’s Turandot, with Angela Meade in the title role (May 18 – June 8, 2024).

The Puccini opera will be presented in a production directed by Garnett Bruce, with scenic design by artist David Hockney. It is the first LA Opera staging of the work since 2002.

El último sueño de Frida y Diego
A scene from the 2022 world premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego at San Diego Opera | Credit: Karli Cadel

The season’s other full-scale production will be El último sueño de Frida y Diego (The last dream of Frida and Diego), Nov. 18 – Dec. 3. Composed by Gabriela Lena Frank to a libretto by Nilo Cruz, the opera uses magical realism and folkloric elements to explore the tempestuous love between two legendary Mexican artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. It premiered this past fall at San Diego Opera to positive reviews.

Concert offerings will include Handel’s Rodelinda, to be performed by The English Concert on Nov. 21, and the world premiere of Joel Thompson’s Fire and Blue Sky on June 6, 2024. Written specifically for LA Opera artist-in-residence Russell Thomas, the latter traces the often-painful origin story of an artist.

In addition, three legendary divas will give separate concerts: Audra McDonald on Dec. 2, Patti LuPone on April 20, 2024, and Renée Fleming on June 15, 2024.

Among the company’s “Off Grand” presentations will be The Book of Mountains and Seas, a recent work by composer Huang Ruo. An ancient, myth-based story that reflects our modern-day environmental concerns, it will be performed April 10–14, 2024, at Santa Monica’s BroadStage.

Season tickets, which start at $104 for the six mainstage productions, are now on sale. For more information, call (213) 972-8001 or go to LA Opera’s website.