Yuval Sharon residency to fortify L.A. Philharmonic’s opera profile

Yuval Sharon of experimental opera company the Industry, seen in 2013, will begin a three-year residency as artist-collaborator with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Yuval Sharon of experimental opera company the Industry, seen in 2013, will begin a three-year residency as artist-collaborator with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

In a move that will bolster its growing opera credentials, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is teaming up with Yuval Sharon, the artistic director of the Industry, the L.A.-based experimental opera company, for a three-year residency to begin in the 2016-17 season.

The L.A. Philharmonic said on Wednesday that Sharon will be named as the orchestra’s artist-collaborator, a newly created post that will involve curating projects for the orchestra, with the assistance of the Industry. The projects are expected to embrace multiple artistic genres and will take place at Walt Disney Concert Hall as well as other venues around L.A.

The appointment will include the L.A. Philharmonic’s centennial season, in 2018-19. An orchestra spokeswoman said the position is a residency and not a full-time staff job, though Sharon will be compensated. The orchestra said it doesn’t disclose compensation information.

The new appointment “feels like it dropped out of the sky in a way,” Sharon said in an interview.


SIGN UP for the free Essential Arts & Culture newsletter >>

He said he met in February with L.A. Philharmonic President Deborah Borda and Chief Operating Officer Chad Smith when they proposed the idea of his getting involved in some way with the orchestra.

“We’d been talking about individual projects with the orchestra, but the idea of a residency of this kind makes it a more sustained experiment, and makes it more exciting. It will feel like a conversation between me, the Industry and the orchestra,” Sharon said.

He added: “We’ve been piecing together what that might look like — what are the pieces that we would work on together, projects that I want to do but don’t fit in the Industry’s mission … perhaps more established works.”

While the details of the residency are still under discussion, Sharon said he expects to be involved with three to five projects per year with the orchestra, and that they could include staged productions or installations around Disney Hall. He said he may also become involved with pre-performance lectures and discussions.

“I’m eager to get involved with all aspects of the operations, like the upcoming centennial — what does the centennial for the Phil look like?”

He added that he wants to help the orchestra to continue expanding its presence beyond Disney Hall.

“I have a couple ideas but I don’t think I’m ready to say yet,” he said. “What’s exciting is how the Phil can get into the fabric of the city — how it can stay grounded in Disney Hall but what are the platforms around the city we can explore.… I’m interested in new pieces and forms and exploring what happens when you present music in different physical configurations.”


The Industry focuses on new operatic works, but outside the company, Sharon has a career directing grand opera and other stage works. Next year, he will direct a production of Peter Eotvos’ “Three Sisters” for the Vienna State Opera in Austria.

“I’ve split my time between the Industry and other projects. What this allows me is to do the kind of work I do outside of L.A., but here at home,” he said.

Sharon previously worked at New York City Opera’s Vox series, an annual workshop dedicated to new works. He also was assistant director to Achim Freyer on L.A. Opera’s 2010 Ring Cycle production.

Sharon, who lives in Silver Lake, founded the Industry in L.A. in 2010. The company has produced works such as “Crescent City” and “Invisible Cities,” the latter of which was a multimedia opera that took place at Union Station in downtown L.A. The upcoming “Hopscotch” is a work by six L.A.-based composers that will unfold in a series of moving cars.


In a statement, L.A. Philharmonic music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel said Sharon’s projects “challenge us to think differently about how music and the arts can play a part in our lives, and they make us look at the world around us in different ways.”

Borda also said in a statement that “collaboration will be an essential component for thriving arts institutions in the 21st century. Their value in terms of creativity and outreach will be a key to the future and how we challenge ourselves to grow.”

In recent seasons, the L.A. Philharmonic has delved more deeply into the world of opera, producing the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy and Unsuk Chin’s “Alice in Wonderland.” For the upcoming season, the orchestra will present Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande.” conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, at Disney Hall.

Sharon’s appointment as artist-collaborator isn’t completely without precedent at the L.A. Philharmonic. In 1990, the orchestra named stage director Peter Sellars as a “creative consultant” on an open-ended basis. Sellars has since worked with the orchestra on numerous occasions, most notably on “The Tristan Project” and John Adams’ oratorio “The Gospel According to the Other Mary.”


Twitter: @DavidNgLAT