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San Diego Opera looks to reinvent itself

Bold. Innovative. Inclusive. The San Diego Opera says it wants to reintroduce itself. What’s so different?

SAN DIEGO — “The opera has evolved over the past six years. We are a company that really invites and celebrates our community. It’s a very diverse community and we want to make sure we look like that,” says San Diego Opera General Director David Bennett.

This season starts with the world premiere of “El último sueño de Frida y Diego” 

San Diego Opera commissioned this opera with Grammy Award-winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Nil Cruz. 

The opera is sung in Spanish, with Spanish and English text projected above the stage. It’s about the relationship between Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Elaborate costumes designed by Eloise Kazan represent the artwork that Frida Kahlo actually painted.

The season ends with an English opera called, “The Falling and The Rising”. It’s a military story that centers around a female soldier who is severely wounded by a roadside IED.

In between those 2 are traditional, grand operas. “Tosca” in Italian and 2 other operas by Puccini in Italian. Bennett says, “For people who think opera doesn't speak directly to them, this is the season that tells them that San Diego Opera does.”

You can see a San Diego Opera production at the Civic Theatre downtown or at Balboa Theatre or the Conrad in La Jolla.  Tickets start at $25.

Bennett says, “The centerpiece of opera is the human voice. Why is opera so powerful when you experience it? The human voice has this very transformative power. We try to produce a variety of styles, but a variety of styles that are also approachable and accessible.”

San Diego Opera also has a yearly student night for young audiences. They give tickets to schools in under-served communities. Some performances can have 50 orchestra members up to 300 people working in front of and behind the curtain.

This season kicks off on October 29th.

“For those that feel opera doesn't feel right for me, it's a little too big, too formal- that's not the opera of today. Everyone is welcome here,” Bennett says.

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