Here at Nook, we have a passion for people, places and properties. There is a reason that we say people first, for what makes a neighborhood special if not the people who live there? Welcome to #TastemakerTuesday, where we’ll feature the visionaries in our favorite nooks who are dedicated to building a better community through their talents.
Often our vision of opera is stuffy and set apart from the environment and community where it is presented. It holds a classical, historical, and old feeling, one that rarely speaks to anything on our minds today. There are standouts in the Nook Neighborhoods to be sure, like 2017 MacArthur Fellow Yuval Sharon’s site-specific L.A. based company The Industry, or Opera Parallèle’s political work in San Francisco, but Long Beach Opera holds a singular place in the opera world. Led by Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek since 2003, the vision of Long Beach Opera is to be a “vital life changing force” for diverse Southern California audiences and youth.
For artistic continuity and integrity, Mitisek creates an overarching concept and direction for each production from the more than ninety the company has in its repertoire, then embarks on an international search to find the artistic leader for each individual production. Breaking out of traditional stereotypes of opera, his productions have taken place in parking garages, swimming pools, warehouses and even the Port of Los Angeles. You aren’t expected to suspend your disbelief within a theatrical space, and thus can reserve all that energy for the story and the music.
That might sound risky, but considering the more traditional Met Opera is offering a buyout to 21 staff members as part of larger efforts to cut costs and stay afloat, it’s worth noting Long Beach Opera’s growth since Mitisek came on board. When he started at LBO, their operating budget was $430,000; it has grown to $1.5 million in just ten years. In a time when arts subscriptions are going the way of print newspapers, Mitisek’s exciting programming increased their subscription base by over 500%. All this while growing the company’s programming from just 2 to at least 5 operas produced every season.
No arts organization can depend on box office revenue, however, and the Long Beach Opera is well supported by national and regional organizations such as Los Angeles County Arts Commission, CA Arts, The National Opera Center of America and Art Works. The City of Long Beach protects its own and understands the value of bringing contemporary opera to people under retirement age, both as a cultural boon to its economy and attracting other Southern California arts lovers to its city. For that reason and more, the City of Long Beach, Arts Council of Long Beach, and local classical station kusc.org also support Mitisek’s work.
It makes sense that The City of Long Beach wants to patronize LBO and Mitisek; their dedication to uncovering venues in the region is as good an advertisement for local tourism as any well-placed billboard. Some of the settings for their 2017-18 season include The Centinela Valley Arts Center, The Beverly O’Neill Theater, the Warner Grand Theatre, and also expand its artistic repertoire to include films based on the season’s themes playing at Art Theater Long Beach. The architectural and artistic history inherent in those theatrical spaces tell many stories of Long Beach and its neighbors, in a cultural limelight often reserved for Los Angeles proper.
Best of all, you can purchase inexpensive tickets for college students as part of their Opera Access! Program. Give the gift of music in unexpected places, and you may just make an opera fan for life. For a more traditional repertoire, LA Opera also has great holiday deals.
To find the best lofts and homes available near Long Beach Opera’s venues, use our Search With Style algorithm on the website or mobile.
Photo Credit: Long Beach Opera