Everything we know about Kanye West’s opera opening in Los Angeles

Kanye West
Kanye West’s new opera, “Nebuchadnezzar,” will debut Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl.
(Francois Mori / Associated Press)

Kanye West’s opera opens Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. Yes, you read that correctly.

West — a rapper, singer, songwriter, public speaker, producer and fashion designer — can now add opera composer to his resume. The “Gold Digger” hitmaker first shared the news Nov. 17, announcing on social media that the surprise show, titled “Nebuchadnezzar,” will premiere this weekend at the historic Los Angeles venue.

With opening night just days away, The Times has collected all the details West fans need to know about his unanticipated operatic turn, from the story to the cast.

It’s based on the Bible

In keeping with West’s recent spiritual rebranding, “Nebuchadnezzar,” set in the 6th century BC, is based on the biblical story of the Babylonian king from the Book of Daniel. For the less religiously inclined, the original tale follows Nebuchadnezzar II, ruler of Babylon, who conquers Jerusalem, enlists Daniel as his servant and eventually descends into madness.

West’s take on the story, according to a release, will dramatize Nebuchadnezzar’s “transition from wicked, imperious, self-declared ruler to a true believer who finds salvation in his faith.” Which sounds an awful lot like West’s own religious awakening that he chronicled on his latest album, “Jesus Is King.”


Kanye West’s new album comes on the heels of prolonged displays of narcissism and an embrace of President Trump that have alienated many of his old fans.

The Sunday Service collective is involved

West’s famous “Sunday Service” squad will take the stage, as will singer Peter Collins and indie band Infinity’s Song. The event is said to be a mix of opera, fine art, modern dance and gospel music.

“Sunday Service” started as a weekly gospel concert hosted at the Calabasas home West shares with his wife, Kim Kardashian, and their children. It’s since grown into a touring company of sorts, staging public services at high-profile venues, such as Coachella and televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch.

“All of that arrogance and cockiness that y’all have seen me use before, God is now using for him,” Kanye West said Sunday at Joel Osteen’s megachurch.

The director is a longtime West collaborator

Vanessa Beecroft
Portrait of Vanessa Beecroft in 2008.
(Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Vanessa Beecroft, an Italian British performance artist who has worked on and off with West since 2008, reunited with the rapper to direct “Nebuchadnezzar.” The pair previously collaborated on his “808s & Heartbreak” album experience at L.A.'s Ace Gallery, “Runaway” music video and Yeezus tour, among other projects.

Beecroft, who is white, has courted controversy in the past with allegedly tone-deaf commentary on race, such as calling West “my alter ego: An African American male” in an interview with ARTNews. She also sparked outrage for once styling a West fashion show inspired by clothes worn by Rwandan refugees.

Tickets are available and somewhat affordable

Tickets to the show can be purchased now on Ticketmaster, with prices ranging from $20 to $575. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.