Entertainment & Arts

‘Hopscotch,’ the experimental opera performed in cars, gets repackaged for your vehicle

Christine Tavolacci plays flute in Chinatown during a rehearsal for “Hopscotch.”
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

If you missed “Hopscotch,” the groundbreaking work performed by the experimental opera company the Industry in cars on the streets of L.A., you’re in luck. The company will release a recording of the show on its eponymous label on Jan. 13.

More than two hours’ worth of the lushly orchestrated score will be made available as a car key-shaped USB drive or digital download via Bandcamp and other outlets. The release will coincide with the launch of a new interactive website devoted to the show.

“Hopscotch” premiered in October 2015 and featured a surreal story line based loosely on the Orpheus myth. It took place in 24 cars driving in and around downtown Los Angeles. The story unfolded in a nonlinear fashion, and that’s exactly how Industry artistic director Yuval Sharon thinks listeners should approach the recordings now.

“Although the album provides a comprehensive through-line of the piece from Chapter 1 to 36, I think the best way to approximate the effect of being in a ‘Hopscotch’ performance is to play it on shuffle,” Sharon wrote via email from Germany, where he was working on a production of “Die Walküre.”


You can mimic the live experience even more effectively, Sharon said, by listening to the soundtrack in your car. The USB is meant to fit directly into vehicle ports.

“The sensory experience of ‘Hopscotch’ was intentionally disorienting, surprising and overwhelming, so to offer audiences the opportunity to experience the music on its own terms is a great joy for me and the Industry team,” Sharon said. “The Industry’s label started precisely for this reason — to let the music of our productions have autonomous life — as well as to disseminate the work being done here in Los Angeles on a larger scale.”

Sharon, whose company staged “Invisible Cities” at Union Station in 2013, is known for thinking on a grand scale. When “Hopscotch” premiered, Times music critic Mark Swed declared that it seemed “to herald a transformative moment” for opera. He later included the work — by turns “messy” and “mesmerizing” — in his year-end top 10 list.

Describing the experience of riding in vehicles with performers, Swed wrote: “A fortuneteller looks you straight in the eye as she sings to you, and you are part of the story. Observe a veteran opera star like mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzman up close, and the rest of the world simply vanishes from your consciousness.”




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