Staking its claim as Southern California’s most innovative and inclusive opera company, Long Beach Opera has announced its 2024 season will be composed entirely of works by female composers and librettists.
The creators range from the acclaimed avant-garde classical composer Kate Soper to Latina electro-pop star San Cha. The operas include two world premieres, plus the first West Coast staging of a piece that earned raves when it premiered in New York.
“It’s exhilarating to be presenting a season with so many powerhouse women artists — some newly emerging into the opera field and others already trailblazing their way to new heights,” General Director and CEO Jennifer Rivera said in announcing the season. “In my career as an opera singer, I never had the opportunity to perform a single opera by a female composer, so I feel grateful to be able to take part in the changes happening in the opera industry that are being reflected here at LBO.”
The season, which will be spread around a variety of venues, opens in February 2024 with the world premiere of Isola, described as “a prismatic meditation on time, mental health, and isolation by poet J. Mae Barizo and composer Alyssa Weinberg.” The production, to be staged at Compound in Long Beach by director George R. Miller, will utilize surround-sound electronics and dance to convey the distorted perceptions of the central character’s subconscious mind.
The recipient of a 2022 Opera America Discovery Grant, Weinberg has had her works performed by the Chicago Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Eighth Blackbird.
The season continues with the West Coast staged premiere of Kate Soper’s Ipsa Dixit, June 1–9, 2024, at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. The new production, directed by LBO Artistic Director James Darrah and conducted by Music Director Christopher Rountree, will also feature the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Dubbed “a kind of lecture or philosophical inquiry in music” by The New York Times, the piece includes excerpts of texts by Plato, Sigmund Freud, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others. LBO staged the world premiere of Soper’s The Romance of the Rose in February.
The season concludes with the world premiere of Asunción, a collaboration between San Cha and McCall Cadenas, July 13–21, 2024, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center downtown. Described as a “telenovela opera,” it is based on San Cha’s album La Luz de la Esperanza. The singer-songwriter will also perform the lead role.
LBO also announced a series of spring events that will feature early looks at works in progress. These include a new edition of Handel’s Alcina; Shelley Washington and Lisa Teasley’s The Passion of Nell, which tells the story of aspiring model and singer Nell Theobald and her relationship with opera star Birgit Nilsson; and a new film Darrah is writing and directing as a vehicle for soprano Measha Brueggergosman-Lee. Audiences will be granted limited access to the set to watch the movie being created.
Season subscriptions are now on sale; tickets to individual events go on sale Nov. 15. For more information, go to Long Beach Opera’s website.