Sunday, March 13, 2011

Long Beach Opera on the Edge

WHEN you do what I do, you hear a lot of arts advocates and administrators talk about "reaching out," finding "new audiences," "making connections," and so on, and it gets tiresome. In part that's because it seems so calculated, in part because it usually means watering down programming to make it safer and more familiar.

LBO's next opera: Philip Glass's "Akhnaten"
But Andreas Mitisek, the Austrian conductor who runs Long Beach Opera, has revived the fortunes of the once- struggling little company by redoubling his commitment to its avant-garde point of view. Whether he's putting on opera in swimming pools or furniture stores, or offering premieres of new and challenging work, he's found -- and grown -- and audience that will follow him.

One of his goals, ironically, is to make audiences uncomfortable. “The very first time I suggested doing opera in parking garage, there was some eyebrow raising,” he says of “The Diary of Ann Frank.” “But the response shows it was the right place for the right piece.”

HERE is my piece from Sunday's LA Times on this remarkable group's past and future.

No comments: