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The Los Angeles Opera — A Cultural Icon in Downtown LA

Los Angeles is often identified as “tinsel town,” a cultural wasteland. The city has long been considered as artistically irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with the arrival of the Los Angeles Opera in 1984.

The Los Angeles Opera — A Cultural Icon in Downtown LA

By Veronica Shine


Opera was no stranger in LA as it arrived in 1900 with the American premiere of Puccini’s La Bohème. The venue, Hazard’s Pavilion, remained open until it was demolished in 1906. No less than Enrico Caruso starred in a production of Carmen in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Opera is an offshoot to the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera, established in 1948. The LACGO eventually abandoned its production unit, and brought in touring opera companies from major cities, under the direction of the Music Centre Opera Association.

Peter Hemmings was appointed general manager of the Music Centre Opera Association in 1984. One of his duties was to establish a local opera company that would produce its own works that became the Los Angeles Opera.

The renowned Spanish tenor, Plácido Domingo, appeared in the inaugural production of the company starring in Verdi’s Othello and continued on as an artistic consultant. Besides his duties as artistic consultant, performer and conductor with the company, Plácido Domingo, was named the director of Los Angeles Opera in 2003. His contract runs until 2013.

The company engaged prominent guest artists into productions under the direction of Domingo. This immediately attracted the attention of opera aficionados, the public and media. Since its inception, Los Angeles Opera has participated in Education and Community Programs that have offered students, senior citizens, and other audiences the chance to experience the opera. With perseverance and dedication, the Los Angeles Opera is considered to be the “fourth largest opera company in the United States.”

The Los Angeles Opera tends to create innovative productions, its recent Ring cycle being particularly notable.. At its peak, the company ascended to ten productions with 75 total performances during its 2006-07 seasons. However, the recent economic downturn forced the company to scale back. For the 2011-2012 season, they dropped down to six productions with 37 total performances.


The number of productions remains the same for the 2012-2013 season with the focus on the company premiere of an early opera by Verdi, The Two Foscari. Plácido Domingo will be starring with music director James Conlon conducting. Other scheduled productions are Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Puccini’s Tosca, Rossini´s Cinderella and Puccini´s Madame Butterfly.

The 3200-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is home for the Los Angeles Opera. The theater was designed by architect Welton Becket, and opened in 1964. It is the largest performance venue at the Los Angeles Music Center.

Veronica Shine

Planning a Visit:

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is located within the Los Angeles Music Center at 135 N. Grand Ave. Paid parking facilities are available at the Music Center.

The venue can also be reached via public transportation.

By DASH bus: Both the “A” and “B” routes have stops at the Los Angeles Music Center. Check times of operation.

By Metro Train: Take the Red Line or the Purple Line to Civic Center (two blocks from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) or via the Gold Line to Union Station, then DASH “B” line southbound from Union Station to Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The box office sells tickets for individual performances and in ticket packages. Hours for purchases are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am - 6pm (8pm on performance days), Sunday matinees: 10am - 6pm.

Find accommodations near Dorothy Chandler Pavilion by visiting The Los Angeles Music Center is within walking distance of hotels located in downtown LA.

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