A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

While the Covid-19 pandemic has shuttered many performing arts organizations around the world, Long Beach Opera (LBO) has been industriously devising live innovative performance opportunities for both its artists and audiences.  Three new offerings are announced for fall 2020 including the 2020 Songbook, a fundraiser premiering 20 newly commissioned works, Viva VERDI, an online course focusing on the activism of 19th century opera composers, and The Creative in Me, a newly commissioned work for children featuring Black composers through history.  LBO will return to live in-person performances in the spring of 2021 with its Season of Solidarity, curated by Yuval Sharon. Updates related to the in-person season within pandemic restrictions will be released soon.

For more information, please visit www.longbeachopera.org.

2020 Songbook
Premiering November 15th at 5:00 PM PT

After the successful new “UnGalas” were launched last season, LBO will continue to redefine what a fundraiser can be this season with the 2020 Songbook premiering on November 15th. With in-person fundraisers completely cancelled this fall, LBO has chosen to find a way to support the creative economy while still raising money for artistic programming and initiatives. 

This year, instead of purchasing a table to a gala, each sponsor will commission a new piece of music created by an emerging composer who has not yet had a major opera commission. These new works will premiere at an all virtual event on November 15th. The only parameters given to the composers will be that the piece must be a reflection of an event or experience from 2020, must be 3-5 minutes long, and must be for voice and one instrument or electronics. The resulting 2020 Songbook will serve as an artistic time capsule of this very unusual time, as well as contributing to the creative economy by supporting the creation of new works.

The emerging composers have been selected by a panel of five illustrious mentor composers, who will provide support and feedback to the emerging composers on their composition, and who will also appear at the virtual event to discuss their experiences. The five mentors are Anthony Davis, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, George Lewis, and Du Yun, who among them have won three Pulitzer Prizes, a MacArthur Genius Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and have premiered some of the most interesting and dynamic contemporary operas presented in the 21st century.

The 2020 Songbook will take place on Sunday, November 15th at 5:00 PM as a live virtual ticketed event featuring the premieres of 20 newly commissioned works. The event will also include interviews with the many artists and performers involved in the project as well as some behind the scenes footage highlighting the creative process. The entire evening will be hosted live by beloved Metropolitan opera superstar Anthony Roth Costanzo. Tickets will cost $75 per device, with a $25 ticket available to those in need (such as students, artists, and anyone suffering from financial stress brought on by the pandemic). All of the composers and artists involved will be compensated for their work, including $50 of each $75 ticket going directly towards artist costs. The proceeds of this “UnGala” will directly support LBO’s 2021 Season of Solidarity, including the additional costs brought on by producing live performances in the time of Covid-19. www.longbeachopera.org/ungala

Viva VERDI: Why Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists
Beginning October 6th, 2020 at 5:30 PM PT

This fall, LBO will debut a virtual seminar taught by LBO’s Director of Engagement and Equity Dr. Derrell Acon, entitled “Viva VERDI: Why Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists”. Dr. Acon, a doctor and Fulbright scholar of 19th Century Opera History and Performance, as well as a renowned speaker on topics related to activism in the arts, will teach an 8-course seminar on how opera composers like Giuseppe Verdi used their art as a means of social advocacy and rebellion. The course will compare the artist activists in previous generations who have been catalysts for social change with the activists working to bring about social justice today, calling for a return to opera’s former power to engage the most pressing issues of the times. The seminar includes historical context, musical examples, and will be interactively taught on Zoom Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30PM PT for four weeks beginning on October 6th. The suggested tuition is $250 per participant. Attendance will be capped and spots are limited. www.longbeachopera.org/Verdi

Newly commissioned family opera “The Creative in Me”
Available online in October

LBO has created a digital version of its newly commissioned piece for children and families; The Creative in Me to be made available to schools and parents this fall. The Creative in Me tells the story of an African American father and daughter united by their love of classical music. This musical drama features arias from Black composers throughout history and is interwoven into a story of familial loss and discovery. The Creative in Me was originally slated to premiere in-person in schools last spring and this fall; a new version for this time has been created in which the father and daughter have to communicate via zoom.  The Creative in Me will be distributed in early October.

Event details:

2020 Songbook
Sunday, November 15th at 5PM Pacific
20 world premiere performances
Event features Anthony Roth Costanzo (host) and mentor composers
Anthony Davis, Annie Gosfield, David Lang, George Lewis, and Du Yun.

Tickets available at www.longbeachopera.org/ungala;
For information on supporting the event, contact hwaldman@longbeachopera.org.

Viva VERDI: How Giuseppe and Gang Would Be BLM Activists
8 Sessions over 4 weeks
From October 6 – 29th, every Tuesday & Thursday at 5:30 PM Pacific via zoom
For more information and to register, please visit www.longbeachopera.org/Verdi.

Creative in Me
For information about distribution, including contact details for schools interested in programming Creative in Me, email Education@LongBeachOpera.org.