Laura Virella who will be singing the role of Frida in the Long Beach Opera production | Photo by Naomi Vaughan
Long Beach Opera knows how to pick a venue. They’ve produced performances in a swimming pool, at the Aquarium of the Pacific, and in grand picture palaces. Now, LBO is teaming up with the Latin American Museum of Art in Long Beach for Frida.
“It’s 110 years after she was born and still everyone knows about her,” said LBO Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek. “A lot of her art work is iconic all over. We’re very proud to collaborate with MOLAA and bring this wonderful work into their sculpture garden, under the stars.”
Composer Robert Xavier Rodríguez wrote Frida in the late 1970s.
“What it really does beautifully,” says Mitisek, “is celebrate Frida as an artist and a human being – her journey from her beginning, the accident, her life with Diego Rivera. We have Frida and Diego throughout the opera surrounded by actors who slip into different characters throughout the opera.”
Long Beach Opera has earned a reputation for creating operatic experiences with an edge. So what’s the edge with Frida?
Mitisek says, “I think Frida Kahlo already has a lot of edge. Seeing her portrayed on a stage is a wonderful opportunity and you can see that with an exhibition of photography with Frida in the same place. You can have a whole inspiring evening.”
Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray is on view now at MOLAA. Muray had a long career taking photos of famous people (from celebrities to sports heroes), but he photographed Frida Kahlo more than any other subject.
Edward Hays is the curator of exhibitions for MOLAA, he calls the Frida photos “an intimate exhibition.”
“We thought maybe it was going to be a little tight in this space, but then we decided we wanted it to be even tighter and a little dark – with the images almost spot lit, so it’s as if you’re looking at the photos on the shelves of Nickolas Muray’s home. They document a relationship of ten years between Muray and Frida Kahlo.”
Muray says you may recognize some of the more iconic “glamor shots” of Frida Kahlo – those images that have been reproduced on products and posters around the world. But at MOLAA, you’ll see them close-up and in a more modest scale. Plus, you can read letters sent from Kahlo to Muray.
“You can learn about Frida and learn about Nickolas from the letters, and you can learn about the high points in Frida’s life that Nickolas captures in the late 1930s. She’s having major international exhibitions – she’s in New York, she’s in Paris and Nickolas is capturing it.”
From left to right: Andreas Mitisek, Artistic & General Director of the Long Beach Opera; Dr. Lourdes Ramos, President & CEO of the Museum of Latin American Art; Edward Hayes, Curator of Exhibitions at MOLAA | Photo by Susie Goodman
Dr. Lourdes Ramos is the newly appointed President and CEO of MOLAA. She says coming aboard during this collaboration between the museum and LBO is an honor. “Frida is a feminist icon and well known as one of the most important Latin American artists, so what more could we want? It’s an enormous pleasure to open this new stage of my career with Frida Kahlo.”
The performances of Frida at MOLAA begin June 17th and run through June 25th. LBO will also be downtown at LA’s Grand Performances on June 23rd, and admission to that performance is free. Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray is on view at MOLAA until September 3. Check back on the Arts Alive Blog for more with Dr. Ramos to come.