In just less than three decades of existence, LA Opera has become, under the leadership of Eli and Edythe Broad General Director Plácido Domingo, the United States' fourth largest opera company and "...stands out as a newly important force in American Opera." (Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times).
LA Opera created a sensation with its inaugural production of Verdi'sOtello starring Plácido Domingo in 1986. Under founding general director Peter Hemmings and subsequently under Plácido Domingo, who became the company's general director in 2003, LA Opera has grown to become a company of international stature. Mr. Domingo has sung more than 150 performances and has also conducted well over 90 performances of both operas and concert works with the company.
Kent Nagano joined LA Opera as principal conductor in the 2001/02 season, and in May 2003, he was named LA Opera's first ever music director. In 2006, James Conlon succeeded Maestro Nagano and currently holds the position of Richard Seaver Music Director. Mr. Conlon's dynamic leadership has brought new international acclaim for the company. His important new artistic initiatives have included an emphasis on the works of Richard Wagner, the ongoing Recovered Voices series dedicated to performing the unjustly neglected operas of composers who were affected by the Holocaust, a three-season celebration of the centenary of Benjamin Britten, and an ongoing collaboration with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to bring together professional and amateur musicians from every part of Los Angeles in performances of family operas.
LA Opera traces its roots back to 1948, when a company called the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera presented a performance of Rigoletto in a church hall in Beverly Hills. The Company, under the directorship of Francesco Pace, staged productions through the 1950s, and in 1964 it presented the first opera performed in the Music Center's brand-new Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Shortly after its third production at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, L'Italiana in Algeri starring Marilyn Horne, the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera abandoned its own production projects and recreated itself as the Music Center Opera Association. For two decades, the Association brought opera from other cities to the Music Center. By far the lengthiest arrangement was with New York City Opera, which brought productions to the Music Center every fall from 1966 to 1982.
In 1984, the Music Center Opera Association hired Peter Hemmings as its founding general director and gave him the task of creating a new opera company that would once again present its own productions in Los Angeles. It was through this important turn of events that LA Opera was born. Mr. Hemmings stepped down as LA Opera's general director in 2000, and the following season Plácido Domingo assumed artistic leadership of the company.