Long Beach Opera cancels ‘Stimmung,’ director resigns amid investigation into issues of equity, diversity

Performers during a 2021 production stage in a parking structure by Long Beach Opera.
Orson Van Gay, left, as Gerard, and Anna Schubert as Elisabeth in a drive-in dress rehearsal performance of “Les Enfants Terribles” by Philip Glass, put on by the Long Beach Opera in a parking structure in 2021.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)
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Long Beach Opera on Monday announced the cancellation of “Stimmung,” its first show of the 2022 season, in a lengthy online statement. The reason: “Stimmung‘s” director, Alexander Gedeon, resigned a little more than a week before the show was set to open on March 19.

The show was to be staged at an abandoned grocery store in Long Beach, where it would unfold in a “magical kitchen” as six performers prepared a meal at a central table surrounded by the audience. Viewers would then share the food with the performers. According to LBO’s statement, “Stimmung” had been fully funded, built and rehearsed when the director resigned. The unique staging and concept had been Gedeon’s brainchild, and it did not seem feasible to continue without him, the statement read.

According to the statement, Gedeon was among three staff members who announced plans to resign during a December 2021 board meeting, after expressing concerns abut “internal communications, workplace environment and issues of equity and diversity.”


A spokesperson for LBO wrote in an email to The Times that the other two resigning staff members were Derrell Acon (associate artistic director), and Elijah Cineas (manager of education). Prior to his resignation, Gedeon had served as minister of culture. All three were part-time employees of LBO. The spokesperson did not elaborate on the exact nature of the allegations made by the staff members when asked for specific examples.

“LBO represents a diverse array of artists and collaborators. The staff and the Board took the concerns raised extremely seriously since they are entirely at odds with the values each of us individually holds dear. We immediately hired an investigator to look into the allegations raised by the employees. That investigation is ongoing; we expect it to be completed this month,” the spokesperson told The Times.

Asked if there was a specific catalyst for Gedeon’s departure, the spokesperson wrote, “We are still unaware of why he decided to leave the company before the performances were complete.”

The Times reached out to Gedeon for comment but has not received a response as of publication.

The staff members made their resignations effective at future dates, the statement reads, so that they could proceed with the artistic work they had planned for the current season.

The statement reads, “The investigator has spent the past two months interviewing LBO’s current and former staff members, along with Board members and independent contractor artists ... The Board also immediately formed a committee to meet with the staff members who resigned to listen to and better understand their concerns.”


LBO wrote that it also hired an independent HR firm to address staff issues and to create a neutral channel for reporting concerns. It also hired a mediator who began meeting with members of the artistic staff in January, in order to foster a dialogue between the resigning staff members and company leadership, and to help the resigning staff members feel supported as they continued their work.

After two years of pandemic shutdowns and the social justice uprisings in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, performing arts organizations are facing renewed calls for equity, diversity and inclusion that have disrupted business as usual and forced institutions to revaluate their core commitments and artistic mandates.

Late last year, playwright Jeremy O. Harris threatened to pull “Slave Play” from Center Theatre Group’s 2022 lineup after mounting complaints that the Taper’s 2021-22 season included work by only one female writer. And in late November, playwright Dominique Morisseau pulled her play, “Paradise Blue,” from the Geffen Playhouse a week after it opened, effectively canceling the remainder of the show’s run. In a subsequent Facebook post and an interview with The Times, Morisseau cited harm to Black women artists and said the company had not responded effectively to that harm.

LBO says its internal investigation is scheduled to conclude in a few weeks and that the results will be made public at that time.

“Regardless of the results of the investigation, LBO will explore all the ways we can become a better, more equitable organization. We will continue the work that already began with an EDI specialist focusing on staff, board and artists and will make additional changes that are needed once the full investigation is complete,” the spokesperson wrote.