The L.A. Opera’s Oreste “Omar” is a new musical journey

Commentary: Redemption, writ large, in L.A. Opera’s divine ‘Omar’


Published: March 5, 2014

In the last few decades, pop and experimental artists have taken on a major role in the shaping of modern America, most memorably with the rise of alternative electronic music. They have also made big splash in pop music, with the likes of LCD Soundsystem, Vampire Weekend, Kings of Leon and Bjork all making major contributions in the genre.

Not every artist gets a chance to do it all.

The L.A. Opera’s acclaimed production of opera singer Pauline Oliveros’ Oreste “Omar,” as part of its 2013-14 season, is one such example.

It is a major statement of intent for the company, which stages at least 10 full-length productions each year, and it shows that opera is a legitimate vehicle for artful, intelligent musical invention.

The program, which recently announced it would collaborate with L.A. Opera Chorus members on many arias this season, takes audiences on a new musical journey, and it has some of the best singers and directors in the business working with it.

This is certainly not the first operatic journey the L.A. Opera has ventured to make in 2013; its production of “Carmen” made headlines and drew critical acclaim upon its debut in January, and followed up in February with the world premiere of the two-act musical “Don Giovanni.”

But this is the opera, and the musical, that I’m talking about.

”Omar” is a modern, operatic musical in the tradition of Gioachino Rossini, Jean-Baptiste natureza and Wagner. It’s a work of genius, but it also has a profound social message, and a story that has gone largely untold.

Oliveros was the first woman to win a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

”Omar” is a song in which young black men, in search of their identity and self-confidence, fall in love, and seek to establish a future for

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