Long Beach Opera ends 2010 in the black -- and unveils 2011 lineup that offers ‘more of the unexpected’


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Long Beach Opera is ending its 2010 season with a double splash. The company, which is staging Ricky Ian Gordon’s swimming pool-based ‘Orpheus and Euridice’ this weekend, is also finishing in the black -- with a 35% increase in subscribers.

Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek attributes LBO’s financial health to ticket sales, ‘dedicated donors’ and ‘the fact we can make opera happen using a lot of imagination instead of a lot of money. We still need support, but we’re in a good place to grow.’


The company, which specializes in presenting rarely seen works in unconventional ways, had a $1.1 million operating budget for 2010 and expects to have a $1.2 million budget for 2011.

Attendance has been rising in recent years, hitting 5,400 this season. Mitisek says the jump in subscriptions -- now at about 660 -- results from offering introductory discounts as well as ‘good programming -- people realize we give them more of the unexpected.’

The current season began in January with Robert Kurka’s ‘The Good Soldier Schweik,’ followed by John Adams’ ‘Nixon in China’ and ‘Orpheus.’ The company also presented a performance of Grigori Frid’s ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ for the 20th anniversary of the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine. Appearing in venues outside of Long Beach has helped to raise LBO’s profile, says Mitisek. ‘We can reach out to where people are much easier than other opera companies can.’

He says he plans to continue expanding that reach with a 2011 lineup that will include one West Coast and three Southern California premiere productions.

The company’s 32nd season will open Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 with Luigi Cherubini’s ‘Medea,’ in a site-specific production of the 18th-century opera based on Euripides and Corneille at the EXPO Building, a former furniture store in Long Beach.

Philip Glass’ ‘Akhnaten,’ which follows the rise and fall of the Egyptian pharaoh, will be performed March 19 and 27 at the Terrace Theatre in Long Beach in what the company says is the West Coast premiere of the 26-year-old opera in its original form.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s’Cherry Town’ -- a satirical Soviet-era musical comedy -- will be presented May 15 at the Center Theatre in Long Beach, May 18 at the Irvine Barclay Theater and May 22 at Barnum Hall in Santa Monica.


The season will conclude June 15 and 18 with ‘The Difficulty of Crossing a Field’ by Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang and playwright Mac Wellman. The work, which premiered in 2002, is based on an Ambrose Bierce story about a pre-Civil War slave owner who walks across a field and disappears. The venue has yet to be determined.

-- Karen Wada

Top photo: Michael Chioldi and Suzan Hanson in Long Beach Opera’s ‘Nixon in China’ in March. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times. Bottom photo: Matthew DiBattista and Hanson in ‘The Good Soldier Schweik’ in January. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times


Taking the plunge once again with ‘Orpheus and Euridice’