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Opera Companies in Los Angeles County

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the Los Angeles Opera. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.

Opera Location Founded
Burbank Civic Light Opera Burbank 1952
Casa Italiana Opera Company Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles) 1971
Desert Opera Theatre Palmdale 1971
Guild Opera Company Hollywood (Los Angeles) 1949
The Industry Los Angeles 2010
Long Beach Opera Long Beach 1979
Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles) 2008
Los Angeles Opera Los Angeles 1986
The Mesopotamian Opera Company Los Angeles 2000
Opera on Tap Los Angeles 2005
Opera UCLA Los Angeles 1949
Pacific Opera Project Los Angeles 2011
Santa Monica Civic Light Opera Santa Monica 1989
Southland Sings Duarte 1997
Studio City Opera Studio City (Los Angeles) 2016?
Vineyard Touring Opera Company Claremont 2008

According to an article by Karen Bacellar for KCET, during the late 1800s, Los Angeles, like most American cities, was a backwater for opera. Any quality opera experienced outside of New York and New Orleans came from opera companies that toured the nation. On October 14, 1897, the Del Conti Italian Opera Company gave its American premier of the Puccini opera La Bohème in Los Angeles. The company had earlier been on tour in Peru and Mexico and, enroute to San Francisco, made a stopover in Los Angeles. It brought a troupe of 91 people with their own scenery and 31-piece orchestra. The performance was held at the Los Angeles Theatre, located at what is now 227 South Spring Street (the theater was demolished in 1941). Although only 532 people filled the 1,400-seat theater for the performance, Los Angeles subsequently became a regular stop for touring opera companies. By 1924, less than three decades later, Los Angeles had its own opera company, with the establishment of the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association.

Los Angeles Theatre, 1897
Los Angeles Theatre, circa 1897, facing north on Spring Street. It is the turreted building in the foreground. Photo by J.B. Blanchard & Co., courtesy of California State Library.

The first local opera company in Los Angeles was the Los Angeles Grand Opera Association (1924-1934). It was followed by the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera (1938-1987) and the Los Angeles Civic Grand Opera (1948 through its last locally produced performance in 1967).

The Los Angeles Opera, founded in 1986, is the fourth largest opera company in the nation.

Among the distinguished artists nurtured by the L.A. Opera, who have gone on to enjoy national recognition, are Richard Bernstein, Greg Fedderly, Rodney Gilfry, Suzanna Guzman, and Paula Rasmussen.

Opera singer, television personality and native daughter Susanna Guzman had aspired to be an actress and rock singer prior to her career in opera.