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The Los Angeles Opera is an opera company in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker. It is the fourth largest opera company in the United Statesmarker. The company's home base is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilionmarker, part of the Los Angeles Music Center.

Current leadership

General director is the Spanish tenor/conductor Plácido Domingo (his contract runs through the 2010-2011 season). American conductor James Conlon has been music director since the 2006-2007 season.


The Los Angeles Opera company, which made its debut in 1986 with a production of Verdi's Otello starring Plácido Domingo, traces its roots back to the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera, which was formed in 1948. It presented staged productions through the 1950s. Shortly after its third production at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the company abandoned its own production projects and recreated itself as the Music Center Opera Association by bringing opera from other cities to the Music Center, notably the New York City Opera. The NYCO brought productions to Los Angeles every fall from 1966 to 1982.

In 1984, the Music Center Opera Association hired Peter Hemmings and gave him the task of creating a local opera company which would once again present its own productions. This led to the forming of the Los Angeles Opera. Hemmings stepped down as General Director in 2000, with Plácido Domingo assuming leadership of the company following season. (In fact, Domingo had been involved in the creation of the company, having served as its artistic consultant since 1984.) In November 2001 Edgar Baitzel was made director of artistic operations. Baitzel was appointed the LAO's artistic director in May 2003 and then the company's chief operating officer in February 2006. Baitzel died in March 2007.


The Los Angeles Opera gives between seventy and one hundred performances a year. It offers productions in the standard operatic repertory as well as new and rarely-staged operas. During the 2003-2004 season, the company performed the world premiere of Nicholas and Alexandra, with music composed by Deborah Drattell and text by Nicholas von Hoffman. The company has also turned to theater and cinema world for directors of its productions. During the 2001-2002 season, it mounted a production of Wagner's Lohengrin, directed by Austrian actor Maximilian Schell and a double bill of Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, directed by filmmaker William Friedkin.

Highlights of recent seasons have included Verdi's Falstaff starring Bryn Terfel; Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role of Samuel Barber's Vanessa; Puccini's La bohème and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci starring Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna; Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Massenet's Manon starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón; an all-star La traviata (Verdi) with Renée Fleming, Rolando Villazón and Renato Bruson; Leos Janacek's Jenufa starring Karita Mattila; Erwin Schrott in Don Giovanni and Le Nozze di Figaro; and Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny starring Anthony Dean Griffey, Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone. To date, Placido Domingo has sung 20 different roles with the company, most recently Siegmund in Die Walkure, Vidal Hernando in Luisa Fernanda, and the title roles in Idomeneo and Parsifal. He has also conducted 11 different operas and numerous concerts with the company. Other frequent and notable guests with the company have included Samuel Ramey, Violeta Urmana, Hildegard Behrens, Denyce Graves, Frederica von Stade, Sumi Jo, Deborah Voigt, James Morris, Rod Gilfry, Jennifer Larmore, Maria Ewing, Susan Graham and Ferruccio Furlanetto.

The company's multi-year Recovered Voices project, begun during the 2006-2007 season, is dedicated to presenting little known operas by the lost generation of composers whose lives and careers were cut short by the Third Reich. To date, the company has presented Alexander von Zemlinsky's An Italian Tragedy and The Dwarf, the U.S. premiere of Viktor Ullmann's The Broken Jug, and the U.S. premiere of Walter Braunfels' The Birds as part of this mission.

Productions for the 2009-2010 season include Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore featuring Giuseppe Filianoti, Nino Machaidze and Nathan Gunn (James Conlon, conductor; Stephen Lawless, director); Wagner's Siegfried and Götterdämmerung; Handel's Tamerlano starring Plácido Domingo and Bejun Mehta; Rossini's The Barber of Seville featuring Nathan Gunn, Juan Diego Florez and Joyce DiDonato; and the U.S. premiere of Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten presented as part of the Recovered Voices project.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

The company is currently preparing its first presentation of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. This will be the first time that Wagner's complete Ring cycle will be performed in Los Angeles. New productions of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were performed in early 2009, to be followed by Siegfried (September/October 2009) and Götterdämmerung (April 2010). Three full cycles will then be produced from May 29 through June 26, 2010, accompanied by the citywide Ring Festival LA. The innovative production is directed and designed by German theater artist Achim Freyer and conducted by James Conlon. The principal artists include Linda Watson, Vitalij Kowaljow, Michelle DeYoung, Plácido Domingo, John Treleaven, Graham Clark, Gordon Hawkins, Eric Halfvarson, Alan Held and Jennifer Wilson, among others.

Education and Community Programs

For over 20 years, LA Opera has produced a wide variety of education and outreach programs designed to bring opera to people of all backgrounds, from young children experiencing opera for the first time to experienced opera lovers of all ages. These include “In-School Operas” performed for and by elementary school students; full-scale student matinees and a summer “Opera Camp” for secondary school students; accredited teacher training programs; large-scale free community performances for families; a popular lecture series for ticket holders before every mainstage performance; and open dress rehearsals for senior centers. In 2008, these programs were enjoyed by an all-time high of more than 159,000 students, teachers and community members.

Music Directors

  • James Conlon, 2006-present
  • Kent Nagano, 2001-2006 (held the official title of "Principal Conductor" from 2001-2003)

Other resident conductors

  • Grant Gershon, "Associate Conductor/Chorus Master", 2007-present
  • William Vendice, "Head of Music Staff/Chorus Master", 1995-2007
  • Randall Behr, "Resident Conductor, Chorus Master, and Head of Music Staff", 1988-1995

External links


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