Long Beach Opera Opens New Season With King Gesar Near the Beach
The Long Beach Opera opened their season over the weekend with Peter Lieberson's King Gesar, about a Tibetan man ordained by the gods to rise from obscurity and usher in a new era of enlightenment and peace. About King Gesar, the LA Times' Mark Swed wrote:
Often inspired by Buddhist myths, Lieberson brought to his flickering score a sense of raucous color and glorious theatrical effects. The cello solos are rhapsodic, the pianos glisten like stars in the sky, the flute is used seductively, brass and percussion call forth spectacle. The spellbinding narration of Douglas Penick's poetically vivid text ranges from shamanistic declamation to rhythmic patter to song.
The production is part of LBO's Outer Limits series which matches operas with unconventional locations. In this case, King Gesar is being performed at Harry Bridges Memorial Park on the shore near the Queen Mary.
Arts Alive's Sheila Tepper attended Saturday's opening night and talked to some of the people behind the innovative show.
Andreas Mitisek is artistic director of the LBO. Here he explains why the setting of King Gesar is meant to evoke an outdoor bonfire.
The heavy lifting in Lieberson's chamber score goes to the cello. Tim Loo is the LBO's cellist and orchestra manager (seen here with Abby Sher, arts patron). Here he explains what the music, originally composed for Yo-Yo Ma, demands of the cello.
Jessica Cusick is cultural affairs manager for the City of Santa Monica and one of the organizers of Santa Monica's outdoor art festival GLOW. What did she think of King Gesar?
There are two more performances of King Gesar: this Friday and Saturday. For more information and for tickets, visit LongBeachOpera.org.
photos courtesy Susie Goodman