featured graphic for Long Beach Opera after COVID-19

Long Beach Opera begins their 2022 spring and summer season with the world premiere adaptation of Giustino by George Frideric Handel with new music and arrangements by Shelley Washington. The opera will be presented within the sculpture garden and galleries at Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach.

This new production of Handel’s rarely-performed opera Giustino, which is conceived of and directed by LBO’s Artistic Director James Darrah and conducted by LBO’s Music Director Christopher Rountree, will perform on May 21, 22, and 28 at 7:30 PM.

In this new version, Handel’s glorious music and surprisingly relevant drama reemerges as a site-specific, cinematically-driven, wild contemporary production with expanded orchestrations, sound design and installation art. A story of fate, destiny, long lost familial relationships and a probing exploration of “conquerors” and their captors, LBO’s Giustino will elevate the ambiguities of gender and sexuality 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 harnesses this surrealism inherent in the work and recontextualizes the salon-like qualities of Handel’s 18th century setting to a transitory, temporal space in an imagined California desert motel, with characters colliding amidst the energy of the Mojave’s ominous expanse..

The action of the scenes will move amongst the audience and to different parts of the museum and will be live-filmed-to-video to create a movie within an opera playing at all times. Additional spaces will continue to be activated during intermission and the museum’s multiple settings will overlap in video during the performance to create layered narratives.

Darrah said, “I’ve always wanted to explore Handel’s potent music, dramaturgy and incredible stage works through the lens of cinema–and merge that with live performance to allow them to take life in more exuberant and less precious ways. I’ve long been infatuated with Handel’s operas but so often have wished I could do even more with them in live production–and I feel very ready to explore this merger with this incredible cast.”

He continued, “The potential to craft layered, nuanced performances with the cast through incorporating cinematography as a tool within the operatic form is wholly exciting and I strongly feel it represents the future of opera’s (partially pandemic-fueled) new cinematic potential. Giustino is the perfect piece to embrace this new type of operatic experience: one that emphatically utilizes film and installation art as a tool to embed within Handel’s bold creation, as well as a canvas for the live music-making theatrical talents of Shelley Washington and Christopher Rountree as we work to craft a celebratory, sensorial, media-rich live opera experience.

Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach
Three Performances Only! May 21, 22, 28 at 7:30pm
Tickets and information at longbeachopera.org
The article above was released by Long Beach Opera.