by George Frideric Handel
with Orchestration and Adaptations by Shelley Washington
Directed by James Darrah
Conducted by Christopher Rountree
with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra



PERFORMANCES

Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 7:30 PM
Sunday, May 22, 2022, at 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2022, at 7:30 PM

VENUE

MOLAA
628 Alamitos Avenue,
Long Beach, CA 90802

The opera runs approximately for 2 hours and 15 minutes, and there will be a brief intermission.
Giustino
is sung in Italian with English supertitles.



Long Beach Opera would like to express our sincerest appreciation and thanks to the individuals who have generously supported this production of GIUSTINO and the 2022 season.

Season Underwriters

Sally Kurnick
Erica Pascal & Michael Hostetler
Dennis C. Poulsen

Giustino Underwriters

Susan Bienkowski
Barbara Bixby Blackwell
Jean Bixby Smith
Barbara & Bob Boies
Robert Braun & Joan Friedman
Richard & Linda Claytor
Kimberly Cole
Allan Dinkoff
Ronald & Sylvia Hartman
Raulee Marcus & Stephen Block
Donald Pattison
Patrick Seaver & Sonja Berggren
Vina Spiehler


Cast

Anna Schubert • Arianna
Marlaina Owens • Anastasio
Sharon Chohi Kim • La Fortuna
Amanda Lynn Bottoms • Leocasta
Luke Elmer • Giustino
Orson Van Gay • Vitaliano
Dante Mireles • Polidarte
Douglas Williams • Amanzio

Artistic Team

James Darrah • Director
Christopher Rountree • Conductor

Shelley Washington • Composer / Arranger
Adam Rigg • Production Designer
Pablo Santiago • Co-lighting Designer
Michael Rathbun • Co-lighting Designer
Ben Maas • Sound Designer
Raviv Ullman • Associate Director
Kate Campbell • Associate Production Designer


About The Opera

Directed by LBO’s Artistic Director and visionary James Darrah, George Frideric Handel’s glorious music and surprisingly relevant drama reemerges as a site-specific, cinematically driven, wildly raucous contemporary party. A story of ill-fated romance, long lost familial relationships, and conquerors and their captors, LBO’s GIUSTINO will elevate the ambiguities of gender already present in baroque opera and examine how stereotypes can be shattered even in the most traditional stories. Darrah’s breakthrough stylistic hybrid of cinema-theater recontextualizes the salon-like qualities of Handel’s 18th-century work to a transitory, temporal space, further challenging the current norms of 21st-century classical music consumption.

The libretto and score will be taken apart and reassembled by Darrah, conductor Christopher Rountree, and exciting young composer Shelley Washington, and will be performed with both authentic baroque specialists as well as contemporary musical and dramatic updates. The action of the scenes will move amongst the audience and to different parts of the location and will be live-filmed to create a movie within an opera playing at all times. And just as spectators did during the time of Handel, the audience is encouraged to truly revel in the decadence and transcendence of Handel’s glorious music without the trappings of traditional, staid classical music performances.


About The Composers

George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel •
George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel, German (until 1715) Georg Friedrich Händel, Händel also spelled Haendel, (born February 23, 1685, Halle, Brandenburg [Germany]—died April 14, 1759, London, England), German-born English composer of the late Baroque era, noted particularly for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental compositions. He wrote the most famous of all oratorios, Messiah (1741), and is also known for such occasional pieces as Water Music (1717) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749).

[Bio courtesy Britannica]


Shelley Washington

Shelley Washington •
Shelley Washington

With an eclectic palette that draws elements from jazz, rock, American folk and other contemporary musical spaces, Washington (b. 1991) seeks to tell memorable sonic stories that comment on current and past social narratives, both personal and observed. Her music has been described as "slightly wild, slightly mysterious” while having the ability to "powerfully [tell] stories" (Peter Alexander).

Shelley is a 2018 recipient of the Jerome Fund for New Music Award and will write a new work for the trio Bearthoven for their upcoming season. In the early fall of 2017, she embarked on her first tour with the Schiele String Quartet to Savannah, Georgia, where her string quartets MIDDLEGROUND and SAY were performed throughout the city. She was also able to work with the students of the Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music program on her string quartet, MIDDLEGROUND, in 2017. Her relentless baritone saxophone duo, BIG Talk, recorded by herself and saxophonist Dr. José Cabán, was recently released by Brooklyn-based label, People | Places | Records. This was her first widely distributed work available on multiple streaming platforms. Her piece, The Farthest, for choir and chamber ensemble was commissioned by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus for their “Silent Voices” series and premiered in April of 2018. Shelley is also an active performer, and performs regularly as a vocalist and solo saxophonist, primarily wielding the baritone saxophone. She has performed and recorded with ensembles throughout Kansas City, Des Moines, Brooklyn and New York City- anything from Baroque to Screamo. She is also a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings, which celebrated their debut concert in Tampa, Florida in partnership with Terroir New Music and the Bake n' Babes in March of 2018.

Washington holds degrees from Truman State University; a Bachelor of Arts in Music focusing on saxophone, and a Master of Arts in Education. She completed the Master of Music in Theory and Composition from NYU Steinhardt in 2017, where she studied with Dr. Joseph Church, Julia Wolfe, and Caroline Shaw. As an educator, she has taught with the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program, and also taught budding composers in the Young Composers and Improvisers Workshop. Shelley was the Artistic Director for the Noel Pointer Foundation, located in Brooklyn, NY. Washington now resides in Princeton, New Jersey, and began studies towards the PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University in the Fall of 2018. Shelley is a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings.


Director's Note

The American Mojave Desert expands over a shocking 124,000 square kilometers, straddles borders into two US states, and is the most arid (and one could argue dangerously beautiful) desert of North America. I’ve made many personal trips, and it continues to reveal new discoveries of previously unexplored canyons, deep swaths of sand, and plants that cascade into sudden outcroppings of rock. Small roadside towns host simple restaurants, abandoned pools long dry, motels with blinking neon for a night’s rest, or simply a worn-down petrol station. It’s an intoxicating place that calls easily for a giddy day trip but requires a clear plan, route, and a working map. It’s a magical and dangerous place—and while it does call for recreation, it also seems to remind you that no one is ever truly watching you. You can be instantly alone in the Mojave: the sprawl of Los Angeles a distant memory, the nearest town only visible in the sharp dark night if you know which two-lane road to take. Anything might happen, or have already occurred. It appears on the local news in Los Angeles occasionally too: a couple goes hiking and gets lost and disoriented, discovered weeks later barely alive. Gang violence is blamed when bodies turn up in a ravine. Drug trafficking, drunk driving, innocent complaints of hipster gentrification in the small towns that dot its borders: for all of its natural beauty and charm, its collision with humanity has yielded a landscape of vast simplicity and the ability to truly disappear, for better or worse.

Perhaps unexpectedly, this vast expanse so relatively close to my own home became an unlikely guiding foundation for our GIUSTINO—less as a literal banal, pictorial postcard depiction of the outdoors but more an inspiration for a rich and vibrant world that could provide some level of possibility for the humans of our story. It helped conjure a world in which an unruly, twisting, and turning Baroque plot could take new life and be interpreted by a strong ensemble of young singers.

Within GIUSTINO, any director must confront not only stage solutions for a live “bear,” but a notorious “sea monster” that is vanquished, numerous large scale location shifts, epic imperial settings, and the voice of a dead father found in a rock, but also the Janus-like double-crossing or shifts of major characters more than eight times each. There are the factions of an empire and violence is used to achieve power, wealth, and infamy. With such daunting lists of dramaturgical questions, it’s refreshing that Handel’s music paints such complex, interesting and compelling portraits of people in their extremes. No one character is innocent, and each is deftly musically drawn into a complex web of tangled personalities all vying to emerge the victor. There is true humor but such levity is often then cut with profound violence, sadness, or loss. Handel’s characters, much like Vivaldi’s from the same libretto, belong to warring factions of both the remains of the Roman Empire in Constantinople but also Vitaliano’s insurgent “rebel” army of Asia Minor. There are groups of people constantly at war—not fully imbued in the piece as nations, but as groups of collective thoughts and ideals. Each of the characters is manipulative, blithely convinced of their own superiority and cunning skill.

Perhaps due to my hometown of Los Angeles recently passing the fiftieth anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders at the hands of the Manson Family in 1969, I found myself revisiting some of the Family home videos from their one-time homestead in the American desert. It’s an eerie study in simplistic joy from a group mentality that would prove deadly. That avenue gave way to some research of American prominence of other cult-like collective thought, obsessions, leaders, murders, violence and vengeance in decades past. I’m less interested here in any over-literal depiction of some historical figures, but more in finding rich human, emotional interactions, and this prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s of religious fanatical cults suddenly sharpened these complex warring factions of Handel’s Giustino into a surreal, but not unlikely, focus that we could use as a first step to create some flesh and blood people. My designer Adam Rigg was intrigued by the notion of a rundown almost forgotten meeting place for rival groups. A surreal, almost nightmarish and not-quite-realistic roadside desert motel room becomes the setting—providing both privacy and solace and shelter but also hidden horrors, overlapping ambitions. For every young Giustino, perhaps running away from home, there is a Vitaliano, a sociopathic leader paying hourly for a room to meet his henchmen and carry out bad deeds behind a closed door. True to the nature of the libretto, Anastasio and Arianna are drawn as successful, powerful leaders of a vast group—here are mildly even inspired by the wealth and excess of the Rajneeshee/Osho cult. Their ambition is not without its darker, hidden excess but rather is betrayed from within. In all the focus has been to draw out performances from the emotional, internal layers of thought: what would happen if these two groups and invented “cults” were in a perpetual state of violence and retribution and young man was unknowingly swept up into their lies and deceit? The light, airy allure and darkness of the desert world and a seedy, isolated motel matched the mixed slight humor and irony of Giustino with its more dangerous, darker dramaturgical implications.

It is also worth noting that at face value, Giustino is an inherently male-centered story. The women of the piece are often objectified, victimized, rescued, desired and generally treated poorly. The men praise and are praised, congratulate themselves, forgive each other and those that betray any sense of superiority simply die. As we explored our conjured world though, it became clear that some of Handel’s women in Giustino had the potential for even more depth of humanity, reality, and rich character choices. That possibility was certainly important to all of us. Some of Handel’s sorceresses such as Alcina, Armida, and Medea are all powerful women with pressing choices, magic powers. They are potent catalysts in their own respective operas’ plots. Arianna seems absolutely connected to this same lineage and I’ve been keen to give both the Empress but also Fortuna and Leocasta such constant agency within our story and we have intentionally cast a woman as Anastasio, embracing a same-sex relationship as Emperor and Empress. They all now drive major decisions and plot developments: they hold as many proverbial cards as the male characters and sometimes perhaps even more secrets and knowledge. We’ve given Leocasta an awareness of California “healing” culture: crystals, mysticism and flippant excess. Interestingly for all of these discoveries and fun explorations, we’ve made only minor cuts to recitatives and arias—some of Giustino already contains almost experimental music compared to Handel’s other canon and we’ve worked to preserve such stunning compositional anomalies as Arianna’s echoing silence and his near constant use of chorus and ensemble music. It is this inventive spirit that prompted the revisions and work with Shelley Washington– a compositional voice I find to be unafraid of not only electronics and unique instrumentation–but one willing to experiment, to push on the boundary between “baroque tastes” and more contemporary potential. Her charge was less to alter Handel, but, as an artist, compose the dark energy of the Mojave and make it an added character.

Unlike Agrippina or Teseo in which the Deus/Dea-ex-machina rights all wrongs in the end, Handel gives us the fiery and impatient goddess Fortune within the first scene but the characters later abandon her. The end is instead a reckoning with the character’s own actions, a chance to prove collective goodwill and beliefs but also perhaps face brutal realities and their resolution is self-motivated. With fate and Fortune no longer intervening on their behalf, they illuminate the dangerous cycle of our very human desire to find solace within the contrarian, self-worth reflected within the markers of success, and shocking pain in underestimating or undervaluing those closest to us…

— James Darrah, Artistic Director & Chief Creative Officer


Synopsis

Somewhere on the imagined edge of the Mojave Desert, California maybe sometime around 1972. 

PART ONE

The outcast Vitaliano schemes a new plan for power with his partner Polidarte. They secretly observe the Empress Arianna burning the body of her dead husband and celebrating her marriage to a new female lover. She proclaims her the new Emperor Anastasio. Amanzio, their advisor, informs them of Vitaliano’s threats and announces a messenger has arrived.

Polidarte, as messenger, warns that Vitaliano is threatening endless violence and demands Arianna as a prize if peace is desired. Anastasio is furious, rejects the offer and promises to fight back. Arianna senses an opportunity to fight back herself. She senses many new unexpected players in their dangerous games.

Nearby, the young drifter Giustino wakes in a motel and reluctantly begins his morning routine for work while sensing he is destined for greater adventures. Restless from disturbing visions, he climbs back into his bed. Once asleep, the goddess Fortune visits him and promises fame, wealth and glory and rouses him to seize this profound destiny.

Giustino wakes from the nightmare convinced he must venture out into the world and take hold of his new life but a young, beautiful woman suddenly arrives, chased by a crazed man dressed as a bear. Giustino intervenes and saves Leocasta, the royal sister of Anastasio. She reveals her identity and thanks him. Amused by the naïve Giustino, she invites him back to their homestead.

Arianna tells Amanzio to prepare to join in fighting, but Amanzio has other plans for the Empress. Leocasta arrives home with Giustino. Anastasio proclaims him a hero and tasks him with rescuing Empress Arianna. Giustino is entranced as Leocasta indoctrinates him into their fold.

Arianna has been delivered to Polidarte who brings her to the rebellious Vitaliano. He is delighted and demands that she marry him. When she refuses his many advances and offers, Vitaliano condemns her to be thrown to a notorious “sea monster”. He leaves her with Polidarte as Arianna laments her fate…


PART TWO

Polidarte carries out his orders and prepares the room. He binds Arianna and warns of the approach of a “monster” before disappearing into the bathroom. Left entirely alone, Arianna makes one last plea. Fortune hears her pleas and guides Giustino toward her room. As the wild Polidarte emerges from the bathroom, Giustino intervenes and saves her life. Anastasio arrives and is relieved to see her wife. Arianna forces Anastasio to keep her oath of vengeance. Giustino, shaken by the swift turn of events, is visited again by Fortune, who redirects his efforts and warns of the approach of Vitaliano. Vitaliano returns just as the others hide.

Vitaliano expects the body of Arianna but is relieved to find a different outcome. Leocasta cunningly provides a seductive distraction, enabling the capture of Vitaliano. Amanzio secretly observes these events and escapes to set a new trap. Anastasio expresses gratitude to Giustino and they leave with Leocasta. Alone, Vitaliano begs Arianna for forgiveness or death by her hand but Arianna seeks revenge and has other plans for him.

Amanzio delivers the Empress’ jeweled necklace to Anastasio and plants new seeds of doubt in her mind, convincing her that her new wife is being unfaithful and a traitor.

Vitaliano manages to escape with the help of an ally and swears he will have vengeance.

Arianna, who has her necklace returned, gives it to Giustino in gratitude for saving her life. Anastasio watches this interaction and, convinced her new wife is lying and betraying him, banishes Leocasta, Arianna and Giustino, condemning them to die. Arianna cunningly finds a way out of her sentence.

Amanzio takes Leocasta and Giustino and leaves them for dead while plotting her next move. Giustino accuses Fortune of betrayal. Fortune again arrives, enabling Leocasta to free them. Exhausted and lost, they fall asleep. Vitaliano emerges and is about to murder Giustino in his sleep when the voice of his dead father proclaims that Giustino is in fact his long lost brother. This is confirmed by a tattoo in the shape of a star on Giustino's arm that Vitaliano shares from birth.

Giustino and Leocasta wake and Vitaliano swears a new friendship. The trio decides to form an alliance and set out to punish Amanzio.

Amanzio has defeated Anastasio, taken Arianna as his new wife, and proclaimed himself the new leader. The trio rushes in, defeats Amanzio and all decide he is to be executed. Anastasio begs Arianna’s forgiveness and Giustino pleads for Vitaliano to be absolved. All agree to transcend their errors and differences and abandon Fortuna. Arianna proposes one final solemn ritual in celebration but with very unexpected consequences…



Special Thanks to Molly Irelan and Alex Miller of Male Glaze


A Note From The Board President

Photo courtesy: USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance •
Photo courtesy: USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance

We at Long Beach Opera are thrilled to welcome you to this production of Giustino here at MOLAA. I am personally ecstatic to have all of you here, as I serve as the Chair of the Boards at both MOLAA and LBO, and always enjoy it when these two organizations which I strongly support can find interesting and forward-thinking ways to collaborate. While LBO has performed at MOLAA before, this performance is utilizing even more of this amazing museum than we ever have before and is featuring the stunning ideas and realizations of LBO’s new Artistic Director James Darrah and his fantastic team of creative collaborators. This production of Handel’s Giustino is combining some of the elements that LBO is known for; like site-specific productions or rarely performed works, with new ideas and treatments of how visual and musical art can combine, collide, and synthesize. The production features not only the exciting talents of James Darrah, but introduces LBO audiences to a rising star in the contemporary composition world, Shelley Washington, whose work on Handel’s score will make this already thrilling evening even more unforgettable. LBO is growing and changing with new, exciting voices, but staying true to our values of creating art that always seeks to challenge, connect and inspire through new and different avenues and experiences. We welcome you once again to our stages—that range from parking lots to amphitheaters to museum galleries—and ask you to join us in supporting great art that brings audiences and communities to new heights. I hope you’ll consider joining me with a gift to support all this exceptional, burgeoning artistic talent as LBO enters this new era of artistic collaboration and creativity. Enjoy the performance!

— Robert N. Braun M.D.
President of the Board, Long Beach Opera


Artist Bios

Anna Schubert
Arianna

Anna Schubert • Arianna
Anna Schubert

Described as "luminously expressive" with a "silvery voice" that "moves from innocence to devastation with an actor's ease," Anna is passionate about bringing new voices, stories, and musical ideas to life. She enjoys an eclectic career that takes her all over the world - premiering new works by living composers, performing old favorites by dead ones, and recording a wide variety of sounds for film and television.

A lover of new music and performance, Anna made her debut on the new music scene with the LA-based company The Industry, singing the ethereal soprano role of L in scenes from Anne LeBaron's LSD: The Opera. Since then, she has performed in a stunning array of new productions, including the role of the Controller in Opera Omaha's production of Jonathan Dove's Flight, Bernstein's Mass with the LA Phil, and creating the role of Bibi in the world premiere of Ellen Reid's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera p r i s m with LA Opera and Beth Morrison Projects. Her performance in p r i s m was described as "revelatory" (Catherine Womack), and subsequently led to a successful run at Theatro Municipal de São Paulo.

Anna also performs roles from standard operatic canon and concert repertoire. Highlights include Orff's Carmina Burana, and myriad Baroque and Classical works such as Handel's Messiah and Dixit Dominus; Mozart's Exsultate, Jubilate, Requiem, Vesperae solennes de confessore, and Mass in C Minor; and Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut. Recently, she premiered a staged and reimagined version of Orlando di Lasso's Lagrime di San Pietrowith 20 other singers from the LA Master Chorale, which launched a worldwide tour.

Outside the world of classical vocals, Anna enjoys a stimulating and versatile career as a session singer. Her voice appears in various film and TV soundtracks, including The Lion King (2019), Mulan (2020), Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, Creed, Minions, as well as in Danny Elfman's latest album, Big Mess. Her solo soprano vocals can be heard dramatically soaring over orchestra and choir in the films Birds of Prey (2020) and Keanu (2016), and the Netflix series Midnight Mass.


Marlaina Owens
Anastasio

Marlaina Owens • Anastasio
Marlaina Owens

The American soprano, Marlaina Owens, a native of Los Angeles, has concertized throughout Austria, France, Germany, and the United States. Her operatic credits include Adele and Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, Lover in Il Tabarro, and the title role in Suor Angelica. Equally home in both theater and music, Owens’ performance artistry is shaped by her captivating stage presence, stylistic versatility and keen sense of dramatic timing. Her engagements in the 2021-22 season include playing Anastasio in Long Beach Opera’s production of Handel’s Giustino, and a young artist position with Opera Santa Barbara Chrisman Studio Program. She will also join Chicago Lyric in their productions of Beethoven Symphony No.9, Puccini’s Tosca and Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones.


Sharon Chohi Kim
La Fortuna

Sharon Chohi Kim • La Fortuna
Sharon Chohi Kim

Sharon Chohi Kim is thrilled to make her debut as La Fortuna with Long Beach Opera. Sharon Chohi is a multidisciplinary artist, vocalist and composer based in Los Angeles. She specializes in contemporary opera, experimental voice, and vocal improvisation. She recently performed in Hive Rise at MOCA with the Industry Opera Company. She was heard singing in a traditional opera style as well as extended vocal technique and noise in her role as Wiindigo in the Industry’s opera Sweet Land. She also performed the role of Hungry Ghost in Meredith Monk’s opera Atlas with the LA Philharmonic. Sharon Chohi has performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad Museum, the Getty Center and Villa, in caves, tunnels, mountains, gardens, and in water.


Amanda Lynn Bottoms
Leocasta

Amanda Lynn Bottoms • Leocasta
Amanda Lynn Bottoms

Amanda Lynn Bottoms is an emerging mezzo-soprano recently engaged with the Santa Fe Opera covering Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fillipyevna in Eugene Onegin, and Ino in the world premiere of Corigliano's The Lord of Cries. For the 2021/2022 Season, she will perform Mandane with Quantum Theatre (Idaspe), Leocasta with Long Beach Opera (Giustino), Katherine Johnson in Galaxies in Her Eyes (HPU Cultural Programs), Girlfriend #3 with Pittsburgh Opera (Blue), and return to Santa Fe Opera to cover the titular role in Carmen. To much acclaim, Bottoms headlined the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago Fall 2021 recital series - the opening performance, Songs of the New World, being named one of the top three Chicago Classical Review’s 'Best of 2021' performances.

Ms. Bottoms is a recent graduate of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera where her mainstage work included roles in the Maurice Sendak production of The Magic Flute, Menotti’s The Consul, and the world premiere of Admissions in the Washington National Opera AOI program. Heralded for her “superb vocal and dramatic chops” (Opera News), Bottoms debuted in the Opera Philadelphia O19 Festival, as Smeraldina in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, and continued featured work with the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, New York Festival of Song, and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Emerging Voices recital series.

Ms. Bottoms has been a finalist in prestigious international competitions including the George London Foundation, Zachary Foundation, Operalia, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regionals. Recent concert work includes collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, UCLA Symphony, Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and Cecilia Chorus of New York.

Prominent debuts include Paquette in Candide with Philadelphia Orchestra and maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Mahler's Symphony No.2 and Richard Danielpour’s The Passion of Yeshua with the UCLA Symphony, Mercedes in Carmen with the Buffalo Philharmonic, Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven's Missa solemnis and The Brothers Balliett’s Fifty Trillion Molecular Geniuses at Carnegie Hall, and Anita in Bernstein's West Side Story with the NHK Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo under the baton of maestro Paavo Järvi.


Luke Elmer
Giustino

Luke Elmer • Giustino
Luke Elmer

Luke Elmer is a West Coast based countertenor from Flower Mound, Texas. Recently, Luke performed the roles of Fairy Godmother/Balladeer in Bock and Harnick’s The Apple Tree (SFCM), Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare (SFCM), and The Book of Fate/Old Woman/Mrs. Northwind in Dove’s The Enchanted Pig (SFCM). Luke received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah studying with Darrell Babidge and Dr. Robert Brandt. He will receive his graduate degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music this spring under the tutelage of César Ulloa. Choral singing is another one of Luke’s passions, and he has sung a wide variety of works with Utah groups, such as the BYU Singers, Brevitas, Sound of Ages Choir, and Lux Singers. Luke is thrilled to make his professional and company debut with Long Beach Opera in Giustino.


Orson Van Gay
Vitaliano

Orson Van Gay • Vitaliano
Orson Van Gay

Operatic tenor Orson Van Gay II possesses a unique voice that captivates the audience with his charisma and command of the stage. His performances showcase vocal talents that have brought him constant recognition in Southern California and across the United States.

In 2021, Mr. Van Gay joined Long Beach Opera for their production of Les Enfants Terribles as Gérard. In the 2019/20 season, he created the role of Raymond Santana in the world première of Anthony Davis’s The Central Park Five, also with Long Beach Opera. He also made his role debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème with Pacific Opera Project. ("Orson Van Gay II’s top notes were thrilling...” OperaWire)

He debuted as Nemorino with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, and sang the romantic lead of the Young Man in Last Romance with Kansas New Theater. (“Van Gay II is one of the finest operatic tenors I have had the pleasure of hearing in a very long time.” Broadway World)

Equally at home as a recitalist, Mr. Van Gay has appeared with the Portsmouth Community Concert, Inc. (VA) and at Carnegie Hall in a recital with Wang Wei.

Mr. Van Gay has sung extensively with LA Opera in many venues including the Connects “City of Hope” “IAMLA" series. He debuted the role of Bernard Curson (aka “Cherubino”) in the world première of ¡Figaro! (90210) with the company, and was Ramerrez in The Prospector in two different seasons. Other operatic roles include Alfredo in La Traviata, Ben in The Night of the Living Dead, and the title roles of Candide and Orpheus.

He premiered Nathan Wang's Golden, a composition based on the life of Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski in Los Angeles, and sang the role of Prince in the world première of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star.

Mr. Van Gay is also an actor in several nationally recognized television series. He has been featured in major television commercials and starred on a variety of shows for Netflix. In 2020 he co-starred in the Disney series Coop and Cami Ask the World.

You can learn more about the Southern California native at OrsonVanGay.com.


Dante Mireles
Polidarte

Dante Mireles • Polidarte
Dante Mireles

Dante Mireles (26) is from McAllen, Texas and first began singing opera as a chorister in South Texas Lyric Opera's productions. Mireles Graduated from Texas Christian University, where he received the Nordan Music Scholarship to gain his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Mireles will graduate this month with his Master’s of Music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Mireles's recent performances at SFCM include Father in Hansel and Gretel, Publio in Clemenza di Tito, and King Hildebrand in The Enchanted Pig. This performance of Giustino will be his debut at Long Beach Opera.


Douglas Williams
Amanzio

Douglas Williams • Amanzio
Douglas Williams

Douglas Williams, bass-baritone, grew up in Farmington, Connecticut, and trained at the New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music, and Tanglewood Music Center. Douglas has appeared as a soloist with the Munich Philharmonic, Orchestra Philharmonique de Radio France, Houston Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Salzburg Camerata, and NDR Radiophilharmonie. His repertoire includes Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart, Puccini, and Stravinsky, with directors and conductors such as Mark Morris, Sasha Waltz, Barbara Hannigan, Simon Rattle, Yannick Nézet-Seguin, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Nicholas McGegan. This season Douglas appears with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, and Opera Atelier. Next season he will make debuts at the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Opéra de Tours. He lives in Berlin, Germany.


James Darrah
Director

James Darrah • Director
James Darrah

James Darrah’s current projects continue to merge cinema and opera. Amid pandemic-related cancelations, Darrah has generated a wide range of new digital content and operatic film adaptations. He is the new Creative Director of Digital Content for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, directing new episodic short films in a visual orchestral series called Close Quarters. This fall he also devises and directs two genre-breaking projects with Boston Lyric Opera: a new fully animated feature-length film of Philip Glass’ Edgar Allan Poe opera The Fall of the House of Usher and the world premiere of desert in, an original eight-part operatic television series with Darrah as director and co-creator with composer Ellen Reid and screenwriter christopher oscar peña. Read more...


Christopher Rountree
Conductor

Christopher Rountree • Conductor
Christopher Rountree

We hear Stravinsky pouring out of an abandoned warehouse; see dozens of watermelons fly off of Disney Hall; parse a chorus singing Haydn’s “Creation” backwards; see Lady Macbeth in a dozen crooning silhouettes washing blood out of rags over bright porcelain sinks in a museum bathroom; hear a violinist recite a poem about melting ice cream and lost love; watch three minutes of “Le nozze” for twelve hours on repeat; follow the archeology of a lost ballet coming to life; and hear the sound of rose-petal jam making as music. Conductor, composer, curator, and performer, Christopher Rountree, is standing at the intersection of classical music, new music, performance art and pop.

Regarded as one of the most iconoclastic conductors in the field, Rountree’s inimitable style has led to collaborations with: Björk, John Adams, Yoko Ono, David Lang, Scott Walker, La Monte Young, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mica Levi, Alison Knowles, Patricia Kopatchinskja, John Luther Adams, Sigourney Weaver, Ted Hearne, Tyshawn Sorey, Ragnar Kjartansson, Missy Mazzoli, L’Rain, Caroline Shaw, Saul Williams, Ellen Reid, R.B. Schlather, James Darrah, Ryoji Ikeda, Du Yun, Yuval Sharon, and many of the planet’s greatest orchestras and ensembles including: the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera national de Paris, the Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Rountree is the artistic director of Wild Up, curator of Darkness Sounding, and the Music Director of Long Beach Opera. He has been artistic director of an interdisciplinary ambient series in an oak grove in LA, called SILENCE, and curator of the LA Phil’s Fluxus Festival.


Shelley Washington
Composer / Arranger

Shelley Washington • Composer / Arranger
Shelley Washington

With an eclectic palette that draws elements from jazz, rock, American folk and other contemporary musical spaces, Washington (b. 1991) seeks to tell memorable sonic stories that comment on current and past social narratives, both personal and observed. Her music has been described as "slightly wild, slightly mysterious” while having the ability to "powerfully [tell] stories" (Peter Alexander).

Shelley is a 2018 recipient of the Jerome Fund for New Music Award and will write a new work for the trio Bearthoven for their upcoming season. In the early fall of 2017, she embarked on her first tour with the Schiele String Quartet to Savannah, Georgia, where her string quartets MIDDLEGROUND and SAY were performed throughout the city. She was also able to work with the students of the Kaufman Music Center’s Face the Music program on her string quartet, MIDDLEGROUND, in 2017. Her relentless baritone saxophone duo, BIG Talk, recorded by herself and saxophonist Dr. José Cabán, was recently released by Brooklyn-based label, People | Places | Records. This was her first widely distributed work available on multiple streaming platforms. Her piece, The Farthest, for choir and chamber ensemble was commissioned by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus for their “Silent Voices” series and premiered in April of 2018. Shelley is also an active performer, and performs regularly as a vocalist and solo saxophonist, primarily wielding the baritone saxophone. She has performed and recorded with ensembles throughout Kansas City, Des Moines, Brooklyn and New York City- anything from Baroque to Screamo. She is also a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings, which celebrated their debut concert in Tampa, Florida in partnership with Terroir New Music and the Bake n' Babes in March of 2018.

Washington holds degrees from Truman State University; a Bachelor of Arts in Music focusing on saxophone, and a Master of Arts in Education. She completed the Master of Music in Theory and Composition from NYU Steinhardt in 2017, where she studied with Dr. Joseph Church, Julia Wolfe, and Caroline Shaw. As an educator, she has taught with the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers program, and also taught budding composers in the Young Composers and Improvisers Workshop. Shelley was the Artistic Director for the Noel Pointer Foundation, located in Brooklyn, NY. Washington now resides in Princeton, New Jersey, and began studies towards the PhD in Music Composition at Princeton University in the Fall of 2018. Shelley is a founding member of the composer collective, Kinds of Kings.


Pablo Santiago
Co-lighting Designer

Pablo Santiago • Co-lighting Designer
Pablo Santiago

Pablo Santiago is a Mexican-American Lighting Designer and the winner of the Richard Sherwood Award and Stage Raw Award and multiple Ovation Award nominee. Pablo is proud to have long standing collaborations with many great artists such as James Darrah, Jose Luis Valenzuela, Ellen Reid, Missy Mazzoli, Karen Zacarias, Bill Rouch, Patricia Mcgregor, Ted Hearne, Christopher Rountree, Francois-Pierre Couture, Adam Rigg, Adam Larsen and Yuval Sharon. Pablo has designed for companies such as Santa Fe Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Opera Omaha, Center Theater Group, Music Academy of The West, Broad Museum and Beth Morrison Projects. Some of the amazing venues he has worked at include Teatro Municipal Sao Paulo, The Goodman Theater, Disney Hall, Davies Hall, Mark Taper Forum, Kennedy Center and Arena Stage in DC, La MaMa in NYC, Skirball Center, Paramount Theater, Huntington Theater and Majestic Theater in Boston, and BAM- Harvey Theater. Recent highlights include The Lord of Cries (Santa Fe Opera), The Fall of The House of Usher and Desert In (digital feature films for Boston Lyric Opera); the Anonymous Lover (Digital Content- LA Opera); Pulitzer Winner p r i s m (Sao Paulo, LAO, Prototype Festival), Macbeth and Mother Road (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage); Place (BAM-LA PHIL-Beth Morrison Projects), Proving Up (ONE Festival/Opera Omaha and Miller Theater); Valley of The Heart and Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum); Threepenny Opera, Norma (Boston Lyric Opera); Destiny of Desire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage); War of the Worlds (Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry); Breaking the Waves (OperaPhila and Prototype Festival); Pelleas et Melisande (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra); Flight, Pagliacci and Madame Butterfly (Opera Omaha); On The Town (San Francisco Symphony); Skeleton Crew and The Cake (Geffen Playhouse). instagram: @pablosdesign


Michael Rathbun
Co-lighting Designer

Michael Rathbun • Co-lighting Designer
Michael Rathbun

Michael Rathbun is excited to be joining Long Beach Opera for the first time on this production. His designs have graced stages in L.A., San Diego, Chicago, Boston, Bangkok, and Paris, with some notable institutions including San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, and LA Dance Project, among others. Some notable credits of his include Kanye West's Sunday Service Choir (Associate Lighting Designer), Theatre Y's devised adaptation of 3 Sisters(Lighting Designer), Ariel Dorfman's La Muerte y La Doncella (Scenic and Lighting Designer), Benjamin Millepied's Pillar 7 (Lighting Designer) and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem (Midwest Premier, Lighting Designer). He also holds an MFA from Trinity College, Dublin's Lir Academy. Examples of his work can be found in his online portfolio at mfrdesigns.net.


Benjamin Maas
Sound Designer

Benjamin Maas • Sound Designer
Benjamin Maas

Long Beach-based Benjamin Maas has been an engineer in the Los Angeles classical music scene for over two decades. His start was at the Eastman School of Music where, as a clarinet student, he recorded numerous performances of students and school ensembles including the famed Eastman Wind Ensemble. Today, his company, Fifth Circle Audio, specializes in the recording, sound reinforcement, broadcast, and video production of music. Previous clients have included Opera Pacific, the Ojai Music Festival, The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jacaranda, Riot Video Games, and many other organizations. He has recording credits on numerous labels ranging from Harmonia Mundi and ECM New Series to Bridge, Delos, and Naxos. Highlights of his previous operatic and theatrical sound designs have included The Rake’s Progress, The Classical Style, Slide, American Songbook III, and Kopernikus for the Ojai Festival. He has also been the broadcast engineer for the League of Legends World Championship opening ceremony and won an Emmy for his work on the Texas Tenors PBS special. This is his second time working with LBO, the first being Les Enfants Terribles last season.


Raviv Ullman
Associate Director

Raviv Ullman • Associate Director
Raviv Ullman

Raviv Ullman returns to LBO after acting in and directing Desert In last season as well as creating and directing Entry for this season’s cinematic programming. Raviv has recently directed work for Boston Lyric Opera and San Francisco Conservatory of Music and this past fall was Artist in Residence at Opera Omaha. He has worked both in NY and around the US with Dear Evan Hansen (Broadway & Touring), Oklahoma (Broadway), Mean Girls (Broadway), Jagged Little Pill (Broadway), Roundabout Theater Co, Atlantic Theater Co, Second Stage, The New Group, The Ahmanson, The Geffen, Huntington Theater, Merrimack Repertory Theater, Bucks County Playhouse, Music Academy of the West and more. His TV credits include work for ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, HBO, MTV, Disney, and Comedy Central.


Kate Campbell
Associate Production Designer

Kate Campbell • Associate Production Designer
Kate Campbell

Kate Campbell is a NYC-based set designer and set design associate. Recent associate projects include: Which Way to the Stage at MCC Theater; On Sugarland at New York Theater Workshop; Cullud Wattah at the Public; Man Cave at the Connelly Theater; Fefu and her Friends at Theater for a New Audience; Girls at Yale Repertory; Cosi fan tutte at Juilliard Opera. Upcoming projects with Adam Rigg includes: HOOD at Asolo Repertory Theatre; The Listeners at The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.


Contributors

Long Beach Opera gratefully acknowledges our generous supporters who ensure the future of bold, visionary art-making. If you would like to donate, you can do so here.

$100,000+

  • Anonymous
  • City of Long Beach
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Carol Richards

$50,000+

  • Anonymous
  • Susan Bienkowski & Wang Lee
  • Drs. Robert Braun & Joan Friedman

$25,000+

  • Patrick Seaver & Sonja Berggren
  • Barbara & Bob Boies
  • California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant
  • The Colburn Foundation
  • Sylvia & Ronald Hartman
  • The Music Man Foundation
  • The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
  • Los Angeles County Department Arts Culture

$10,000+

  • Ahmanson Foundation
  • Anonymous (2)
  • Allan Dinkoff & Roseanna DeMaria
  • Richard & Linda Claytor
  • Matthew Groening
  • Sally Kurnick
  • Greta & Peter Mandell
  • Raulee Marcus
  • Lanyce & Bryant Mills
  • Erica Pascal & Mike Hostetler
  • Dennis Pulsen
  • Port Of Long Beach
  • Keith Simmons
  • Vina Spiehler
  • William Weber & Linda Clark

$5,000+

  • Aaron Copland Fund for Music
  • Amgen Foundation
  • Amphion Foundation
  • Evalyn M. Bauer Foundation
  • Barbara Bixby Blackwell
  • Jean Bixby Smith
  • Todd Calvin
  • Barbara Cohn
  • Kimberly Cole
  • Dr. P.K. Fonsworth III
  • Bobette Frye
  • Frank Gruber & Janet Levin
  • Diana Hobson
  • Nancy Katayama
  • Karen Molleson
  • Donald Pattison
  • Keith Polakoff

$2,500+

  • Marjorie Beale & Bill Meyerhoff
  • Michael & Suzette Giannini
  • Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership
  • Michael Seawright
  • Mary Watson-Bruce

$1,000+

$500+

$250+

$100+

<$100

Institutional Support

  • Aaron Copland Fund for Music
  • Ahmanson Foundation
  • Amphion Foundation
  • Arts Council for Long Beach
  • The Boeing Company
  • City of Long Beach
  • The Colburn Foundation
  • J. Paul Getty Foundation
  • Los Angeles County Department Arts Culture
  • Los Angeles County
  • The Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Port of Long Beach
  • The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
  • RBC Wealth Management

Corporate Matching Gifts

  • Amgen Foundation
  • Benevity
  • Goldman, Sachs & Co. Matching Gift Program
  • IBM Matching Grants Program
  • Waters Corporation

Ask if your employer has a charitable giving program!

Legacy Society

  • Barbara & Bob Boies
  • Margaret & David Barry
  • Drs. Kathy Chambery & Marilyn Haring
  • Gwynne Gloege
  • Frances Grover Fund
  • Dr. Ronald & Sylvia Hartman
  • Dr. Ronald G. Hopkins
  • Raulee Marcus
  • Carl & Lenore Pearlston

Honorary Gifts

In Memory of Marilyn Haring
Kathy Chambery

In Memory of Carol Richards
Marvin Carlberg
Margaret Carlsberg
Byrwec Ellison
Gerald Faris
Ronald & Sylvia Hartman
Jessica Ann Losch
Joan Nickerson
Janet Papkin

In Honor of James Darrah
Janet Yoder
Lyn Darrah

Long Beach Opera would like to thank Dan and Sarah for donating the use of their beautiful car for this production of Giustino.


Become a Contributor

You too, can support LBO and productions like Giustino by making a contribution

Donate Now


Production Staff

Eric Bridges • Director of Production
Stephanie Lopez • Production Manager
Josh Clabaugh • Technical Director
Kyle Gladfelter • Production Stage Manager
Rubén Bolívar • Assistant Stage Manager
Manee Leija • Head of Wardrobe
Berenice Gallegos • Hair and Makeup Artist
Ly Yang • Lighting Assistant
Robert Blake • Rehearsal Pianist
Tommy Garcia • Production Coordinator
Rachel Steinke • Supertitles Operator
Caleb Wildman • Master Electrician


LBO Administration

Jenny Rivera • General Director & Chief Executive Officer
James Darrah • Artistic Director & Chief Creative Officer
Christopher Rountree • Music Director
Eric Bridges • Director of Production
Bronson Foster • Head of Experience & Partnerships
Nico Bejarano • Head of Development & Philanthropy
Teri Christian • Company Manager
Katie Speer • Marketing & Patron Services Associate
Cynthia Ramirez • Finance


Board of Directors

Officers

Robert Braun • President
Allan Dinkoff • Vice President
Karen Molleson • Vice President
Mark Taylor • Secretary
Susan Bienkowski • Treasurer

Members

Marjorie Beale
Barbara Boies
Cindy Costello
Peolia Kansas (P.K.) Fonsworth III
Diana Hobson
Sally Kurnick
Greta Mandell
Raulee Marcus
Karen Molleson
Keith Simmons
Vina Spiehler


Education Programs

See what people are saying about LBO's Education Programs:

Several teachers mentioned how much they enjoyed opera and that it was good to be reminded of this fact. Students enjoyed the performance as a whole and several of my students mentioned that they want to go into the arts as adults. We discussed the problem solving methods used by the actors in “The Playground King” and how Elliott students could apply similar methods to solve playground and other types of problems. Several girls and one boy are dancers and singers and this just encouraged them to go on with their dreams.

Bernadette M.T. (William F. Elliott Elementary School)

Awesome! Opera is something that students and teachers rarely encounter, so it was wonderful to be able to bring this medium to them. I also thought the connection to bullying was a great way to ground opera in something that students already know about.

Eveline H. (Willow Elementary School)

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Company History

Founded in 1979, the Long Beach Opera is the oldest (and still youngest) operatic producing company in the metropolitan Los Angeles/Orange County region.

Long Beach Opera's success helped provide the stimulus for the subsequent founding of opera companies in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The Long Beach Opera and San Diego Opera, along with these companies, have made Southern California one of the major operatic centers in the United States. With a repertoire of over ninety operas, including early and late Baroque works, twentieth century works, and operas of special interest from the standard repertoire, Long Beach Opera is well known for its world, American and west coast premieres of new and rare operas. Long Beach Opera is a recognized member of the American operatic community, enjoying funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach.

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