Opera at California State University, Los Angeles

The Magic Flute


Vocal Arts at California State University, Los Angeles is recognized for producing high quality operatic performances. Operas produced range from full-scale productions with full orchestra in the Luckman Fine Arts Center to more intimate operettas in the State Playhouse or Music Hall. The opera curriculum is organized around two principle objectives: the Four-Year Cycle, presenting a different style period every year, and the Zarzuela Project. The Four-Year Cycle ensures students have opportunities to experience operas from four different style periods during their study at Cal State LA. The Zarzuela Project is an on-going commitment by the vocal arts area to provide lectures and productions on the topic of Zarzuela, a form of Spanish operetta that is a natural fit with the rich Hispanic history and heritage of Los Angeles. The Department of Music has designated 2008-09 as the Year of Zarzuela in honor of this unique and exciting operatic art form.

Only matriculated students perform in Cal State LA operas to ensure that current students have opportunities to develop their craft as performers and singers. Whether aspiring to professional careers in opera or intending to pursue other career options, our opera productions allow students opportunities to work with guest directors and other experts who regularly stage professional opera, and musical theatre productions. The professional contacts and depth of preparation students gain have proven invaluable to our graduates, many of whom have gone on to active careers as performers and educators, and in production, technical or arts management.

Recent productions include:

  • 2002 Cosi von tutti by Mozart
  • 2003 The Medium by Menotti
  • 2004 Hansel and Gretel by Humberdinck
  • 2005 The Coronation of Poppea by Monteverdi (in Italian)
  • 2006 La Canterina by Haydn (n Italian)
  • 2007 Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan
  • 2008 The Magic Flute by Mozart (in German)
  • 2009 The Island of Tulipatan by Offenbach (in English)
  • 2010 This is the Rill Speaking by Lee Hoiby (in English)

The Magic Flute

The Zarzuela Project
presents either scenes or full productions of Spanish Operetta in the genre called “zarzuela.” Zarzuelas have been written for the past four hundred years and many hundreds of these gems exist. In Spain there are theatres that only produce zarzuelas. However, in the United States few know the genre or how to produce the shows in a 21st century American context. Los Angeles is a natural place to produce opera in Spanish with its large population that speaks the language fluently. There is also a significant percentage of students at the university for whom Spanish is their first language. Many of the Zarzuela operettas have very beautiful and yet accessible music, making this genre perfect for developing college-level singers. The Zarzuela Project has been enthusiastically received by students and the community alike. Past productions include:

  • 2004 La verbena de la Paloma by Breton – (Full production)
  • 2005 Spanish Evenings (Scenes from Zarzuelas in Spanish w/ piano)
  • 2006 Gigantes y cabezudos by Cabellero (Full production)
  • 2007 Destino del Amor (Scenes by several composers in Spanish with piano)
  • 2009 El duo del la Africana by Cabellero (Full production)