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Pacific Opera Project Takes Direct Aim at the Pandemic

October 13, 2020

Pacific Opera Project (POP) has always delighted in taking on the moment. Now, the Los Angeles opera company with a penchant for pop culture and a knack for reworked productions is going as topical as it gets.

POP tackles the subject of the coronavirus pandemic head-on with three revamped productions this fall. Covid is the theme all around, from updated plot lines to new repertoire to the newfangled setup for performers and audiences alike.

Each performance will take place at Camarillo United Methodist Church, drive-in style. The singers and orchestra perform live, while video streams above the stage and sound goes out on FM radio to the audience in their cars. It’s a setup that’s worked for other classical concerts in California and beyond.

The updated season opens with COVID fan tutte, a popular choice in 2020 (the Finnish National Opera staged its adaptation of the Mozart opera last month). POP’s version features a new English libretto by Artistic Director Josh Shaw and brings face masks and social distancing into the story — as POP’s summary puts it, “perhaps finally making the disguises and plot of Così fan tutte (almost) believable.” Three real-life couples (soprano Jamie Chamberlin and tenor Nathan Granner, mezzo-soprano Christina Pezzarossi and bass-baritone Colin Ramsey, and soprano Ariel Pisturino and bass-baritone E. Scott Levin) star in three performances, Nov. 14, 15, and 22.

That same month, POP premieres two Gluck operas, both one-acters and seldom performed, but the real interest here is one of the titles. La corona (The crown) and Il Parnaso confuso (Parnassus confused) run for two performances, Nov. 20 and 21. Sopranos Jessica Sandidge, Tiffany Ho, and Audrey Yoder and mezzo-soprano Meagan Martin sing dual roles, and Kyle Naig conducts a period ensemble (he also leads the orchestra for the Mozart).

POP brings the season to a close with what’s become a December tradition. The company’s take on Puccini — La bohème: AKA “The Hipsters” — gets an update each year, and while there’s plenty in store for the 2020 edition, POP is also saying that this year will be the last for now, perhaps a hint that it can’t be topped.

For tickets and more information, visit Pacific Opera Project’s website.

Peter Feher is an editor at SFCV. He can be reached at [email protected].

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