James Darrah
James Darrah

Long Beach Opera’s 2021 season is taking shape. With a new artistic director at the helm, and live performances looking feasible this spring and summer, the company is ready to realize production plans made last year.

First up, a drive-in style staging of Phillip Glass’s Les enfants terribles, on the roof of a Long Beach parking garage. Glass’s opera, in a standard indoor setting, had been on LBO’s initial 2021 schedule, curated by Interim Artistic Advisor Yuval Sharon and announced back in May 2020. Between then and now, Sharon found success with a parking-garage version of Götterdämmerung at Michigan Opera Theatre. It’s LBO’s pandemic solution too, plus Sharon handing off his vision to the company’s newly appointed artistic director, James Darrah. Darrah had been set to direct the indoor production of Les enfants terribles, and he will direct the outdoor adaptation now, in three performances May 21–23.

Another of Sharon’s projects — a double bill of Pierrot lunaire and Kate Soper’s Voices From the Killing Jar — gets the outdoor treatment in August. LBO has its sights set on a Los Angeles-area amphitheater for the production, and Jenny Wong will conduct the small ensemble, made up of musicians from Wild Up — exact details to be announced next month.

Now for the new work on LBO’s season schedule. Darrah, along with composer Ellen Reid and playwright Christopher Oscar Peña, oversees desert in, a streaming series that’s part world-premiere opera, part prestige TV. Each episode, eight in total, highlights a different composer-screenwriter pair; Reid’s music is the first episode, and composers from Vijay Iyer to Nico Muhly to Nathalie Joachim are contributing to the project too. The setting stays the same, with the series filmed in Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs. Among the cast, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard is set to star. Desert in premieres in June on operabox.tv and is a co-production with Boston Lyric Opera.

It’s an abbreviated season for LBO; two previously announced productions, including former Artistic Director Andreas Mitisek’s staging of The Lighthouse, remain postponed. “One year ago it was impossible to imagine that indoor performances would still be prohibited at this time,” says CEO and Executive Director Jennifer Rivera, “but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to continue to be flexible and adaptable to every scenario.”

Subscription tickets and more information on the season ahead are available on Long Beach Opera’s website.

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