Back in 2004 I made my debut here at LBO in Die schweigsame Frau. Back then Andreas Mitisek(photo below) was making his own debut as the head of this small strong company with a history of pushing the boundaries of both common and uncommon opera. During that production period, Andreas could often be found with a cell-phone in one hand and a baton in the other. While finding his place as head of a new company and the logistics therein, he was also producing and conducting both Schweigsame and Maria de Buenos Aries. I even remember him arranging moving-truck reservations for our load-in into the theatre while conducting a crazy fugue in the Strauss.
Fast forward seven years where I'm back as Jason in Medea. Andreas still likes to wear many hats within the company, but the company has grown and I'm impressed. It's so wonderful to see more employees and volunteers around the new and expanded office. The fact that the company is taking advantage of wonderful guest housing (see pic below), and providing bicycles, while hiring smart stage management just makes me smile. They've been able to grow their subscriber base and have been able to operate without a deficit. Not many opera companies can say that.
The company doesn't have their own theatre, but they use some of the many different venues around Long Beach, with Andreas preferring the more uncommon spaces. An opera on the Queen Mary? An empty public swimming pool? A parking garage? Or take our current venue... a reclaimed furniture warehouse. It's hard to fathom all of the hard work that went into making this raw space into such an engaging environment. The crew and volunteers have spent many many late nights here. Imagine starting with a bare warehouse without infrastructure for lighting (do the circuit-breakers even have enough juice?); No seating (seats? what seats?); Max Occupancy (let's call the fire chief)? Bathrooms? Parking? You get the idea. LBO has gone out of it's way to bring an amazing opera to the public in a fun non-conventional location. Sure, they could rent a theatre like so many other opera companies and not have to worry about these things, but that's all been done before.
We're staged "in-the-round" with the audience at floor level and the cast on raised platforms. Surprisingly, keeping our circulation going while trying to remain semi-still on the stage for 30-45 minute intervals continues to be a major challenge. Not to mention the light-headedness one gets from standing up quickly to sing after "actively" laying down for half an hour. Wheee! Dizzy and singing with half of your body asleep makes for a performance situation like no other. But it works well and the opening night audience went crazy for the production.
I have to run now, but here's a very nice review from Mark Swed and the LA Times concerning our opening night. Our last performance is sold out but there are a few scattered tickets left for the Saturday matinee. Come see us if you have a chance!