By Gayle Kirschbaum
Welcome to the 2017-18 season! I am excited to take the helm as the new president of the Opera League. We are in for a fantastic season, and with all the programming in the works and wonderful people to interact with, it’s easy to conclude that it’s magical to be enveloped in the League.
For one thing, I’m not the only one taking on a new role. We have no less than six new, and already quite accomplished, League board members. New to the board but not to the League, they are veteran volunteers who are already toiling away to help with our upcoming programming.
Speaking of our programs, if you haven’t done so already, mark those calendars for Sunday, September 3. That is when we will bring you the first of our season’s in-depth seminars. This one will cover LA Opera’s first two productions, Bizet’s Carmen and The Pearl Fishers. I don’t need to tell you how magnificent the music will be, but I do want to impress upon you how enlightening this seminar will be.
On a personal note, it is so fitting that LAO concluded its past season with the mainstage production of Tosca, while the new season begins with Carmen. My love for opera was ignited when I came home one day from college, and my mother, who had been a gifted mezzo-soprano, handed me the libretto and score of one of her favorite operas. Yes, it was Tosca. As I immersed myself in the music, I found the intense interplay of magnificent voices, storyline and gorgeous music truly magical. I became hooked on opera. But earlier impressions helped bring me to that point. As a very young child, I often watched my mother rehearse excerpts of Carmen. I can still hear the interaction of castanets with her sublime voice.
This connects to what we do as the Opera League. We enable others not just to hear, but to experience the kind of introduction I had when I first discovered opera. We fund the buses that bring students and seniors to rehearsals, while the volunteers from our Education team assist and coordinate these and other events. Last spring, over fifty League volunteers assisted in welcoming the community to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for LAO’s Open House. While I was coordinating the League’s involvement with this event, I found the warmth and energy of our volunteers to be contagious. That same warmth and energy carried into this summer’s Opera Camp for youngsters, which the League also funded.
As the new season approaches, our programming slate will continue to expand, including Saturday morning events for the very young. Beyond education, you can look forward to musicales, gatherings and many other events for League members and the community at large. We strive to captivate vibrant minds of all ages and enrich all who are a part of that experience, from volunteer to spectator.
We are truly privileged to share a special relationship with LA Opera, one of the top opera companies in the world. It affords us unique opportunities to go behind the scenes at this premier institution. So visit our website regularly and see what the League is up to. Want to sign up to volunteer or just to attend one of our many events? Don’t be shy! Renew or upgrade your membership, and invite others to join the League. And when you attend an LA Opera performance, don’t forget to drop by our Shop at the Opera in the lobby. Net proceeds from the Shop further our support of LAO and its education and community outreach.
As we touch the lives of others through music, it is amazing to experience the wonderful smiles and energy this engenders. Being part of the Opera League is nothing less than priceless!
PHOTO CREDIT: Alma Guzman