featured graphic for Long Beach Opera after COVID-19

Long Beach Opera presents all new The Central Park Five June 18-19

Long Beach Opera announced that in addition to two performances of Anthony Davis’ Pulitzer Prize winning opera The Central Park Five that they premiered in 2019, LBO will create the world premiere recording of the piece, which will be released this fall. Additionally, LBO released details about two summer programs that will occur on subsequent weekends in July; LBO: ON DISPLAY and the inaugural Long Beach Opera Film Festival.


LBO’s production of The Central Park Five will be a newly devised production created by director J. Ed Araiza, in which the orchestra will appear on stage with the singers. Lauded Los Angeles treasure Anthony Parnther will conduct the performances, which will take place at Jordan Auditorium on June 18th and 19th. Following the performances, LBO will create the first professional recording of the Pulitzer Prize winning opera, and the recording will be released this fall.

The Central Park Five is the true story of five teenagers wrongly accused of a crime, then sentenced to years in maximum security prisons. After the incredible success of the world premiere production produced by LBO in 2019, the company will bring the opera again to audiences in a new production which will focus on the internal dramatic arch of the characters and the astonishing, award winning score.

The harrowing account of five teenagers wrongfully convicted, incarcerated and eventually exonerated remains a devastatingly relevant indictment on racial injustices in America. LBO’s 2019 world premiere of the opera brought composer and “national treasure” (opera news) Anthony Davis additional recognition when the score was selected for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music. “Davis’ supercharged score grippingly conveys the claustrophobia of a racist legal system and society from which there was, for these five innocent boys and their families, no exit.” (LA Times).

After the critical acclaim of the world premiere, LBO brings back this important, lauded work, featuring many of the original cast members along with some new additions, reinvigorating the story of the five innocent Black teenagers falsely accused and convicted of a crime. Anthony Parnther, who was recently lauded by the Los Angeles Times for leading a “superb performance” of Mr. Davis’s work “Restless Morning,” will conduct the Pulitzer Prize winning score. J. Ed Araiza will direct a new production, featuring an on-stage orchestra. Araiza is a principal actor and original member of the SITI Company, one of the most important experimental theater ensembles in the world. He is also the chair of the theater department at UCLA.

The performances will take place at Jordan Auditorium, which is the theater on the campus of Jordan High school in northern Long Beach which recently received a multi-million dollar renovation. The performances taking place at a high school theater are significant in that the real-life protagonists of the opera were between 14-16 years old at the time of their arrests and convictions. The theater is a state-of-the-art performance space and is located just off the 710, only 20 minutes from downtown L.A.


The production stars Orson Van Gay II, Bernard Holcomb, Ashley Faatoalia, Cedric Berry, William Powell III, Justin Ryan, Lacey Jo Benter, Todd Strange, Joelle Lamarre, Lindsay Patterson, Corey Estelle and Jose Maldonado. In addition to Conductor Anthony Parnther and director J. Ed Araiza, the production will feature the work of Lighting Designer Pablo Santiago.


Long Beach Opera acknowledges the importance of a professional recording in the life of any new opera. With that in mind, LBO has decided to allocate resources and time to creating the world premiere recording of The Central Park Five in order to cement its induction into the canon of influential 21st century works, as well as to increase its reach to a much wider audience. The recording will be professionally produced and engineered in a Los Angeles based studio and will be released to the public in the fall of 2022. Many of the original cast members from the world premiere performances along with some exciting new performers will appear in both the live performance and the world premiere recording. The effort will be led by LBO and conductor Anthony Parnther, whose experience and expertise within the studio recording industry in L.A. will lend venerable strength to the project’s success.

Jordan Auditorium
6500 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90805
Single tickets, season tickets, and information are available at longbeachopera.org.

Additional Programs

Long Beach Museum of Art Downtown
July 9th from 5-9 PM and July 10th from 12-4 PM

This new company program celebrates the artists that make LBO unique— giving audiences a close look at artists’ own mediums and personal creative practices in an intimate gallery setting, putting the artists’ work fully ON DISPLAY. The LB Museum of Art Downtown will be transformed into a two day exhibition and immersive happening that allows audiences to parse the performances and pieces at will. Artistic Director James Darrah has curated current and past LBO artists and invited each to craft performances and unique visual art of their own design. The two days will vary in content— both will feature a merger of visual art installations, video, dancers, instrumentalists and vocalists in shockingly close proximity— ON DISPLAY is an artist-forward expansion of the definition of opera through the creation of new cross-discipline pieces of artists’ own mediums and unique practices.

Art Theatre Long Beach
July 16th from 12 PM – 12 AM & July 17th from 12 PM – 6 PM

The inaugural LBO Film Festival will take place over the weekend of July 16th and 17th at the Art Theatre in Long Beach and will feature a unique selection of opera films. The 2022 LBO Film Festival will run for two full days, and will include film screenings, live performances, panel discussions, and local business and restaurant collaborations throughout the weekend. The lineup will include a variety of artists exploring the overlapping worlds of opera and film and feature the projects of unique filmmakers, dancers, composers, and opera singers, including the world premiere of the LBO commissioned short film Entry. The festival will also include several works that have not yet had a theatrical release or public screening. Heralded by the Wall Street Journal as “experimenting and forging a new art form”, Artistic Director James Darrah’s unique focus on the intersection of opera and film has been praised by the LA Times as “blow[ing] up an old art form for the ‘Insecure’ generation” and will now have an annual home in the first LBO Film Festival- a trailblazing two day series of curated screenings, premieres and events celebrating the cinematic exploration of opera’s boundary-breaking collision with film with a wide array of collaborations from film, television and opera creatives.

Creative partnerships, performers, film listings and curators for both July programs will be announced soon.

This article was released by Long Beach Opera.