James Darrah
Long Beach Opera Artistic Director James Darrah

Everything is lining up for Long Beach Opera. The forward-thinking company has pulled off all kinds of productions since the pandemic began: in a parking garage (Les enfants terribles), in a desert (desert in), and this past weekend, under the stars at the Ford Amphitheater.

At the same time, LBO has been setting the stage for new leadership. This past year, James Darrah was hired as artistic director, Derrell Acon was promoted to associate artistic director, Alexander Gedeon got the self-designed title “minister of culture,” and, the latest addition, conductor Christopher Rountree signed on as music director, beginning this month.

Now, LBO is planning a 2022 season just as untraditional and innovative — and making the most of its team of directors.

Gedeon oversees the first production, a staging of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s 1968 choral work Stimmung. Jenny Wong conducts the ensemble of six singers, and the venue is as far-flung as ever: an abandoned grocery store in Long Beach. Four performances are set, March 19, 20, 26, and 27, 2022.

Derrell Acon
Derrell Acon

Acon produces the next project, in collaboration with New York’s Heartbeat Opera, where he also serves as associate artistic director. Quando will bridge the gap between streaming productions and live performances. LBO presents the new piece, drawn from excerpts of Verdi and Gluck, as part film screening, part live opera, at the Art Theatre of Long Beach for two performances, April 23 and 24, 2022.

The company is carrying over more of its pandemic innovations with a take on Handel’s Giustino in May 2022. Like with Les enfants terribles, Darrah will be directing both conceptually and literally, live-filming the performance as it happens. Rountree returns to the conduct the production, which has composer Shelley Washington reworking Handel’s score.

The season ends on familiar ground with a revival of The Central Park Five in June 2022. Anthony Davis and Richard Wesley’s opera got its world premiere from LBO in 2019 and went on to win the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Find more details on the 2022 season, along with subscription tickets, on Long Beach Opera’s website.

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