The Central Park Five
Music by Anthony Davis
After winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 following the world premiere given by LBO, Anthony Davis' tremendous work, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, returns to the stage in a new presentation directed by J.Ed Araiza and conducted by Anthony Parnther.
About the Opera
LBO’s production of THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE will be a newly devised production created by director J.Ed Araiza, in which the orchestra will appear on stage with the singers. Lauded Los Angeles treasure Anthony Parnther will conduct the performances, which will take place at Jordan Auditorium on June 18th and 19th. Following the performances, LBO will create the first professional recording of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, and the recording will be released this fall.
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE is the true story of five teenagers wrongly accused of a crime, then sentenced to years in maximum security prisons. After the incredible success of the world premiere production produced by LBO in 2019, the company will bring the opera again to audiences in a new production which will focus on the internal dramatic arc of the characters and the astonishing, award-winning score.
The harrowing account of five teenagers wrongfully convicted, incarcerated, and eventually exonerated remains a devastatingly relevant indictment on racial injustices in America. LBO’s 2019 world premiere of the opera brought composer and “national treasure” (opera news), Anthony Davis, additional recognition when the score was selected for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Music. “Davis’ supercharged score grippingly conveys the claustrophobia of a racist legal system and society from which there was, for these five innocent boys and their families, no exit.” (LA Times).
After the critical acclaim of the world premiere, LBO brings back this important, lauded work, featuring many of the original cast members along with some new additions, reinvigorating the story of the five innocent Black teenagers falsely accused and convicted of a crime. Anthony Parnther, who was recently lauded by the Los Angeles Times for leading a “superb performance” of Mr. Davis’s work “Restless Morning,” will conduct the Pulitzer Prize-winning score. J.Ed Araiza will direct a new production, featuring an on-stage orchestra. Araiza is a principal actor and original member of the SITI Company, one of the most important experimental theater ensembles in the world. He is also the chair of the theater department at UCLA.
The performances will take place at Jordan Auditorium, which is the theater on the campus of Jordan High school in northern Long Beach which recently received a multi-million dollar renovation. The performances taking place at a high school theater are significant in that the real-life protagonists of the opera were between 14-16 years old at the time of their arrests and convictions. The theater is a state-of-the-art performance space and is located just off the 710, only 20 minutes from downtown L.A.
About The Composer
Opera News has called Anthony Davis “A National Treasure” for his pioneering work in opera. He is recognized internationally not only for his important contributions to opera but also as a distinguished composer of symphonic, choral and chamber works. Davis has been on the cutting edge of improvised music and Jazz for over four decades and continues to explore new avenues of expression while retaining a distinctly original voice. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his opera THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE in 2020.
Anthony Davis has composed eight operas. X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X with a libretto by Thulani Davis, played to sold out houses at its world premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986. It was the first of a new American genre: opera on a contemporary political subject. A recording of the opera was released in 1992 on the Gramavision label and earned a Grammy nomination in 1993 for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition.” The Detroit Opera debuted a new production in May 2022, which will travel to the Metropolitan Opera in November 2023. UNDER THE DOUBLE MOON, with a libretto by Deborah Atherton, premiered at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 1989 and TANIA, an opera based on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst with a libretto by Michael John LaChiusa, premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in 1992. TANIA was recorded and released for KOCH International in October of 2001 and received its European premiere in Vienna in November 2003. His fourth opera, AMISTAD, about a shipboard uprising by slaves and their subsequent trial, premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in November 1997. AMISTAD was created in collaboration with librettist Thulani Davis and was directed by George C. Wolfe. A new production of the opera, directed by Sam Helfrich, debuted at the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in May 2008 and a recording of the opera was released on New World, also in 2008. Davis’s opera WAKONDA’S DREAM with a libretto by Yusef Komunyakaa had its world premiere with Opera Omaha in March 2007. LILITH, an opera about Adam’s first wife based on Allan Havis’s acclaimed play with a libretto by the playwright, debuted in 2009 followed by LEAR ON THE 2ND FLOOR, an opera inspired by King Lear, in March 2013. His most recent opera THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE with a libretto by Richard Wesley was given its world premiere at Long Beach Opera in 2019. New recordings of X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X and THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE are planned for release in the 2022/23 season.
In addition to his work in opera, Davis currently has two music theater works in development: SHIMMER, a music theater work with Sarah Schulman and Michael Korie, based on Schulman’s novel about an aspiring reporter, who is lesbian, and an aspiring playwright, who is black, trying to get ahead in the McCarthy Era and TUPELO, based on the life of Elvis Presley, written with Arnold Weinstein.
Anthony Davis has composed numerous works for orchestra and chamber ensemble on commissions from the San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Kansas City Symphony and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also composed the music for the critically acclaimed Broadway production of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENIUM APPROACHES, PART ONE, which premiered in May 1993, and for Kushner’s companion piece PART TWO, PERESTROIKA, which debuted in November 1993.
Davis’s catalogue also include two choral works: VOYAGE THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE UPON THESE SHORES, a harrowing tale about the slave trade and the fateful Middle Passage, written for a cappella voices and based on Robert Hayden’s poem "Middle Passage"; and RESTLESS MOURNING, an oratorio for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble with live electronics, which sets the poetry of Quincy Troupe and Allan Havis as well as the 102nd Psalm of David in a powerful evocation of the 9/11 tragedy. The Carolina Chamber Chorale premiered the work at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in May 2002.
A graduate of Yale University in 1975, Davis is currently a distinguished professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. In 2008 he received the “Lift Every Voice” Legacy Award from the National Opera Association acknowledging his pioneering work in opera. In 2006, Davis was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and has also been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York Foundation of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Carey Trust, Chamber Music America, Meet-the-Composer Wallace Fund, the MAP fund with the Rockefeller Foundation and OPERA America. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2020 and has been an artist fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Civitella Ranieri and at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy.
Mr. Davis’s music is published by Episteme Music and administered worldwide by Schott Music.
Biography courtesy of Schott Music Corporation. Photo credit: Erik Jepsen.
Richard Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Howard University. He studied Playwriting under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Ted Shine. A member of the New Lafayette Theater from 1970 through 1973, he served as Managing Editor of its Black Theater magazine.
He was awarded a Drama Desk Award for his 1971 stage play, THE BLACK TERROR. His 1978 play, THE MIGHTY GENTS, appeared on Broadway, after premiering off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theater Club under its original title, “The Last Street Play.”
His 1989 play, THE TALENTED TENTH, also at the Manhattan Theater Club, brought him his fourth AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Play. In 2013, he wrote the libretto for an opera, PAPA DOC, for the Trilogy Opera Company, with music composed by Dorothy Rudd Moore, and adapted from an essay by Edwidge Danticat. Other librettos for Trilogy Opera include: FIVE, with music composed by Anthony Davis; KENYATTA, with music composed by Trent Johnson; W.E.B. and BOOKER T, Julius Williams, composer and SCOTT, GARNER, GRAY, SAYS: JIMMY BALDWIN, Dwayne Fulton, composer.
In June 2019, a new version of FIVE, now known as, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, premiered at the Long Beach Opera, in San Pedro, California.
Mr. Wesley’s play, AUTUMN, received its premiere at the Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey in April of 2015. The play received its New York premiere at the Billie Holiday Theater in 2016, a production that subsequently won six Audelco Awards, including Dramatic Production of the Year.
Mr. Wesley has shared two NAACP Image “Best Picture” Awards for the motion pictures, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT and LET’S DO IT AGAIN, both of which starred Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Among his other motion pictures: NATIVE SON (1984) and FAST FORWARD (1985).
Mr. Wesley has authored scripts for television movies: THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR (PBS, 1984), MURDER WITHOUT MOTIVE (NBC, 1992), MANDELA and DE KLERK (Showtime, 1997), and co-wrote the scripts for BOJANGLES (Showtime, 2002) and DEACONS FOR DEFENSE (Showtime, 2003), a recipient of “Best Teleplay” award from the Foundation for the Advancement of African Americans in Film (FAAAF) . He has also written episodes for the series FALLEN ANGELS (Showtime, 1996), ONE HUNDRED CENTER STREET (A&E Cable Networks, 2000 and 2001) and MIRACLE’S BOYS (2005).
In 2019, “IT’S ALWAYS LOUD IN THE BALCONY: From Harlem to Hollywood and Back,” Mr. Wesley’s personal history of the Black Theater Movement across the last fifty years, was published by Applause Books.
In 2020, The Central Park Five, Anthony Davis’ opera, for which Mr. Wesley wrote the libretto, was the recipient of The Pulitzer Prize in music.
Among other commendations Mr. Wesley has received are: Lifetime Achievement Award from the Organization of Black Screenwriters, The Pioneer Award from the National Black Theater of New York, The August Wilson Playwriting Award from the National Black Theater Festival, The 2018 Distinguished Playwriting Achievement Award from the Texas State University Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, The 2020 August Wilson Award from the National Black Writers Conference and the Castillo Award for Outstanding Writing in Political Theater.
Mr. Wesley is currently an Associate Professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing there. He is a member of the Board of directors of the Manhattan Theatre Club and sits on the Selection Committee for the Black Film Festival of the Newark (NJ) Museum of the Arts; the Board of Directors, Newark Performing Arts Corporation at Symphony Hall and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY.
He is married to the novelist, Valerie Wilson Wesley.
Biography courtesy of Schott Music Corporation. Photo credit: Dwight Carter.
Cast & Team
J.Ed Araiza has a long and varied history working on multicultural, cross-disciplinary projects as a writer, director, and performer. Early in his career, Araiza was a member of El Teatro de La Esperanza and worked at both the Los Angeles Actors Theatre and the Los Angeles Theatre Center.
Araiza is a principal actor and original member of the SITI Company, founded by Tadashi Suzuki and Anne Bogart. SITI Company is one of the foremost experimental theater ensembles in the world. He is a proponent of Suzuki and Viewpoints training and for more than 30 years has performed in productions in major national and international venues. These include the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; the Olympic Arts Festival in Atlanta; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Actors Theatre of Louisville; Los Angeles Theater Center; Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center; Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater; The Guthrie Theatre, Scotland’s Edinburgh International Festival; Germany’s Biennale Bonn festival; Japan’s Toga Festival; Ireland’s Dublin Theatre Festival; and Festival Le Standard Ideal, MC 93 Bobigny, in Paris.
As a playwright with seven original full-length plays produced, Araiza is a member of The Dramatist Guild. He has directed Voluspa for the National Theatre of Iceland; Savitri, Dancing in the Forest of Death for the META Theatre Festival in Delhi (nominated for best production and best director) and MEDEAstories, his original adaptation of the Euripides, with an international cast for the SITI Studio Theatre in New York. His bilingual adaptation Miss Julia: a powerplay, based on the Strindberg was recently published by METHUEN DRAMA in SEEKING COMMON GROUND: Latin American Theatre and Performance.
Araiza has been a guest teacher at many universities including The Julliard School, Yale School of Drama, SUNY Purchase, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Columbia University, New York University, Stanford University, National Theater Institute, Harvard University, University of Chicago, Pomona College, Vassar College and the University of Denver. He was artist in residence/guest faculty during a three years period at St. Edward’s University in Austin Texas; and artist-in-residence/Coastal Studies Chair at Bowdoin College in Maine. He was also guest artist in acting and performance at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada where he directed Chekhov’s The Seagull. Other international workshops he has led include those at the Singapore International Theatre Festival; South Korea’s Seoul Factory Theatre; the Norwegian Theatre Academy; the Icelandic Academy of the Arts; Festival Iberoamericano in Bogota, Columbia; and a 6-week residency at TEAK the Finnish Theatre Academy, where he directed MEDEAStories, his adaptation based on the Euripides. In 2020 he led international workshops at the Shanghai Film Academy and at the Communications University of China in Beijing and at the Access Point International Festival at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Mr. Araiza is the Chair of the Theater department at UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television. He joined the faculty in 2013 as Professor and head of the Interdisciplinary MFA Acting program.
American conductor, Anthony Parnther, is the Music Director and Conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and the Southeast Symphony & Chorus in Los Angeles. Anthony also serves as the Artistic Director of Musicians at Play and as Resident Conductor of the newly established Orchestra US.
Parnther has conducted artists spanning every musical genre including Joshua Bell, Jessye Norman, Yundi Li, Lynn Harrell, Frederica von Stade, Roderick Williams, The Canadian Brass, Jennifer Holliday, Kanye West, Imagine Dragons, Omar Appollo, and Alan Walker. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chineke! Orchestra, Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Hear Now Music Festival, BrightworkNewMusic, UCLA Philharmonia, the Pittsburgh Microtonal Festival, Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, and the World Opera Forum in Madrid, Spain.
Over the last decade, Parnther has conducted the Hollywood Studio Symphony on a lengthy list of the top film, television, and video game entities in the world. This includes Star Wars: The Mandalorian, Tenet, Little, The Hunt, Fargo, The Way Back, The Night Of, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and League of Legends. He has conducted hundreds of sessions for a long list of media composers including Ludwig Göransson, Jeff Russo, Rob Simonsen, Nathan Barr, and Germaine Franco. Parnther has accepted invitations with orchestras internationally to conduct live film concerts, particularly the scores of John Williams, Michael Giacchino, and Jerry Goldsmith. His live orchestral concert appearances for Riot Games' League of Legends in Barcelona, Beijing, Seoul, and Los Angeles are among the most viewed symphonic concerts in the world, with live audiences of 50,000+ spectators and a viewership that outpaces the World Series with approximately 100 million live streaming each League of Legends Finals Opening Ceremony concert.
Recognized as a leading authority on orchestral works by minority and women composers, Parnther has restored and performed orchestral works by Florence Price, Zenobia Powell Perry, George Walker, Margaret Bonds, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, and Samuel Coleridge Taylor. He has given premieres of works by Errollyn Wallen, John Wineglass, Gary Powell Nash, and Marian Harrison. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works by sixty living Black composers such as Renee Baker, James Wilson, Phillip Herbert, Daniel Kidane, Chanda Dancy, and James Newton. He was profiled by Los Angeles' KCET/TV as a "Local Hero" in 2015 for his extensive community outreach and advocacy for the performance of works by Black, Latino, and Women artists.
Parnther studied music performance at Northwestern University and continued his musical studies at Yale University where he studied orchestral conducting with Lawrence Leighton Smith and Otto Werner Mueller. In addition, Parnther studied applied voice and choral conducting with Thomas Jenrette and wind conducting with Roxanne Haskill, the retired director of the Marine Corps Music Program. He also received guidance and inspiration from Cliff Colnot, David Webb, Lafe Cook, W. Francis McBeth, and Frank Battisti. He resides in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Cedric Berry wields “a bass-baritone of considerable power and agility” (The Chicago Tribune), projecting “machismo and a voice of fabulous mettle to the theatre’s last row….tossing off difficult passagework and deploying dazzling thunderbolts of sound at the top of the range” (Voix des Arts). Award-winning Bass Baritone whose experience spans Opera, Broadway, American Song Book, jazz, and gospel. He has performed a variety of operatic roles including the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, Falstaff in Nicoli's Merry Wives, Lepporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflote, Collatinus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Shaunard in Puccini’s La Boheme. He has performed with Los Angeles Opera, The Industry Opera, Long Beach Opera, Savonlinna Opera Festival of Finnland, Banlieurs Bleues Festival of France, and the Ravinia Music Festival, to name a few. He has appeared with Pacific Symphony, Arizona Symphony, Santa Fe Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, New West Symphony, Luckman Jazz Orchestra, Pasadena Pops Orchestra, California Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra of Japan. He has also been the recipient of several awards including first place in the Metropolitan Opera Western Region Competition. For more information visit www.cedricberry.com.
William Powell, III
Celebrated for his “immensely powerful, deep bass baritone” (DC Metro Theater Arts), Washington, DC native William Powell, III is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, and completed graduate-level course work towards a Masters of Music at the Catholic University of America.
A New Jersey State Opera Alfredo Silipigni Vocal Competition award recipient, William has held principal, supporting, and ensemble roles in various operatic and musical theater works including Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Cord Elam, Jud Fry & Dream Jud), Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (Simone & Marco), Verdi’s Rigoletto (Ceprano & Sparafucile) and Otello (Lodovico), Floyd’s Susannah (Elder McLean), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Leporello), Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (King Balthazar), Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and Washington National Opera’s productions of Glass’ Appomattox, Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, and Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Relocating to the Los Angeles area to pursue acting and to continue his musical pursuits, in the 2018-2019 season, William made his LA Opera stage debut in productions of Verdi’s Don Carlo and La Traviata. In 2021, William made his Lyric Opera of Chicago stage debut and performed in Verdi’s Macbeth and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In 2022, William will appear in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s productions of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Tosca, and Beethoven 9 and will make his house and role debut in Long Beach Opera’s production of The Central Park Five. Following his time in Long Beach, William will make his role debut with Dramatic Voices Berlin as Wotan in Wagner’s Die Walküre.
In addition to his musical pursuits, William is establishing and growing a theater, film, and television career and is a member of the Actors Equity Association.
Tenor Bernard Holcomb has “already made a name for himself in the world of opera” with his “delicate and flexible” voice (Opera Wire) and the “appealing sweetness and clarity [of] his tone” (New York Times). Katy Walsh of Chicago Theater Beat said it best: “Although everyone [at Lyric Opera of Chicago] can sing, Holcomb reminds us why we come to the Lyric.” Most recently, Holcomb returned to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Lush Life: Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, after making his début there in 2019 with Dancing in the Street: The Music of Motown, as well as performed it at Buffalo Philharmonic and Greensboro Symphony. He also appeared in On Site Opera’s Diary of the One Who Vanished and What Lies Beneath, Elmwood Concert Singers virtual Messiah, joined Opera Carolina for I Dream, and appeared in workshops for Beth Morrison Projects and Washington National Opera. 2020 engagements were to include the role of EJ in Nolan Williams Jr.'s Grace: the Musical, his début as Tamino in The Magic Flute with Opera Southwest, Porgy and Bess with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, amongst a series of additional concerts.
This season, he makes his début with Portland Opera to reprise the role of Kevin Richardson in The Central Park Five, sings the World Premiere of Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem with the Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony, tours with Harlem Gospel Choir, and performs in X, Life and times of Malcolm X with Michigan Opera Theatre.
Mr. Holcomb is no stranger to Long Beach Opera, appearing most recently in the world premiere of The Central Park Five, as well as performing in The Love Potion and I Was Looking At The Ceiling And Then I Saw the Sky. Recent débuts include his Alaskan début as Captain Leadbetter in the world prémiere of Emerson Eads’ Princess Sophia with Project Orpheus, his Carnegie Hall début, and his title role début in Rossini's Otello in NYC.
Orson Van Gay
Operatic tenor Orson Van Gay II possesses a unique voice that captivates the audience with his charisma and command of the stage. His performances showcase vocal talents that have brought him constant recognition in Southern California and across the United States.
In 2021, Mr. Van Gay joined Long Beach Opera for their production of Les Enfants Terribles as Gérard. In the 2019/20 season, he created the role of Raymond Santana in the world première of Anthony Davis’s The Central Park Five, also with Long Beach Opera. He also made his role debut as Rodolfo in La Bohème with Pacific Opera Project. ("Orson Van Gay II’s top notes were thrilling...” OperaWire)
He debuted as Nemorino with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, and sang the romantic lead of the Young Man in Last Romance with Kansas New Theater. (“Van Gay II is one of the finest operatic tenors I have had the pleasure of hearing in a very long time.” Broadway World)
Equally at home as a recitalist, Mr. Van Gay has appeared with the Portsmouth Community Concert, Inc. (VA) and at Carnegie Hall in a recital with Wang Wei.
Mr. Van Gay has sung extensively with LA Opera in many venues including the Connects “City of Hope” “IAMLA" series. He debuted the role of Bernard Curson (aka “Cherubino”) in the world première of ¡Figaro! (90210) with the company, and was Ramerrez in The Prospector in two different seasons. Other operatic roles include Alfredo in La Traviata, Ben in The Night of the Living Dead, and the title roles of Candide and Orpheus.
He premiered Nathan Wang's Golden, a composition based on the life of Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski in Los Angeles, and sang the role of Prince in the world première of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning Star.
Mr. Van Gay is also an actor in several nationally recognized television series. He has been featured in major television commercials and starred on a variety of shows for Netflix. In 2020 he co-starred in the Disney series Coop and Cami Ask the World.
You can learn more about the Southern California native at OrsonVanGay.com.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ashley has been singing for as long as he can remember. He studied voice at Chapman University with Dr. Peter Atherton and since then he has been performing in venues far and wide. The Los Angeles Times calls him “Outstanding” Opera News calls his singing “hauntingly beautiful” and credits him with “a voice of winning purity and variety of expression” and The San Francisco Chronicle labels his voice “Sweet-toned.” Ashley has become a sought-after vocalist for new works and experimental projects working closely with composers from across the country including, Lewis Pesacov, Rand Steiger, Anthony Davis, Christopher Cerrone, Anne LeBaron and more. Often noted for his soaring tenor and warm stage presence, Ashley's recent engagements include: The role of Simon in the premiere of Las Tres Mujeres de Jerusalén with Los Angeles Opera, EUROPERAS with The Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry, the role of The Crab Man in Porgy & Bess with Seattle Opera, the role of Antron’s Father in the premiere of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning, The Central Park Five with Long Beach Opera, as well as concerts with New West Symphony, Sun Valley Opera, South Coast Symphony and MUSE/IQUE. Other notable performances include his debut as Marco Polo in the premiere of the Emmy-Award-winning, Pulitzer-Prize-nominated, Invisible Cities with The Industry, Charles Edward in Candide with The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and his debut with San Francisco Opera in Porgy & Bess. Ashley has also had the honor of singing "The Star Spangled Banner" to sold-out audiences at both Dodger Stadium and The Staples Center. Upcoming engagements include: Remus in Treemonisha (workshop) with Volcano Theatre of Toronto. Ashley also currently works with LA Opera Connects as a teaching artist and is a company member of The Industry. He is featured on multiple professional recordings including: Invisible Cities – Original Cast Recording (CD/DVD/Digital Release), The Edge of Forever – Original Cast Recording (Vinyl/Digital Release), Porgy & Bess – San Francisco Opera (BluRay-DVD) For more information, visit – www.ashleyfaatoalia.com and follow ash on twitter - @ashthetenor
Since his 2016 debut with New York City Opera in a “strong, deftly conveyed” (New York Times) performance of Edward Hopper in Hopper’s Wife, baritone Justin Ryan has risen as a prominent interpreter of American leading men with companies across the United States, most notably in The Consul at Chicago Opera Theater as a “remarkable, powerful John Sorel” (Stage and Cinema) opposite Patricia Racette, and in the American premiere of Philip Glass’s grand opera The Perfect American at Long Beach Opera and COT, where Ryan’s “touching” portrait of Walt Disney (Chicago Tribune) was met with a wave of acclaim, with critics extolling his abundant “vocal and physical charisma and dramatic range” (Los Angeles Times), and declaring, “Ryan has a clear and commanding voice, and the ability to grab your attention and hold on to it” (Hyde Park Herald). Most recently, Ryan “earnestly channeled a remarkable internal aggression” (NY Classical Review, Operawire) as Edward in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Stonewall at NYCO, and as the first mate Starbuck in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick at Opera San Jose, Ryan “cut a commanding figure” (San Francisco Chronicle) who “expressed the sailor’s fears and longing with touching clarity” (San Francisco Examiner) in an “ample and often lustrous voice” (Operawire).
Lacey Jo Benter
American opera singer Lacey Jo Benter has been lauded by the New York Times as having a "rich, warm tone" while bringing a "broad emotional palette" to the stage. Native to Cedar Rapids, Iowa she completed a two-year residency at LA Opera with the Domingo-Colburn Stein Young Artist Program in 2016 where she debuted in the Grammy award-winning production of John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles. Also at LA Opera she sang “Clotilde” in Norma, “Kate Pinkerton” in Madame Butterfly, “Persephone” in Morganelli's Hercules vs Vampires, and provided the Alto solo in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. She received her Bachelor's of Music in Vocal Performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI before attending The Juilliard School where she received a Master's of Music in 2011 followed by an Artist Diploma of Opera Studies in 2014. While pursuing her degrees she performed such operatic roles as "Madame de Croissy" from Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmélites, "Ma Moss" from Copland's The Tender Land, "Zita" from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi and "Le Prince Charmant" from Massenet's Cendrillon as well as musical theater pieces including "Fraülein Schneider" in Cabaret, "Princess Puffer" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and multiple roles in Working the Musical. She has completed Young Artist apprenticeships with both Central City Opera and the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She has appeared with Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, returning for several roles in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, which she reprised for her Barbican Hall debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She has been conducted by musical master John Adams with the LA Phil in the multimedia performance of his Nixon in China and returned to the LA Phil in 2020 appearing in their exciting Weimar Nightfall production, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has performed regionally with Opera Omaha and Opera Columbus and in 2018 self-produced and performed The Wagner Project, a reworking of 5 short pieces by Wagner known as the Wesendonck Lieder, fused together with icons of modern-day music including Beyoncé and David Bowie.
Lyric Tenor, Todd Strange is a well-rounded performing artist specializing in opera, solo concert work, musical theater, in addition to session singing and professional choral/ensemble work. Mr. Strange is currently a roster member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Opera, and is a soloist in many regional opera companies and symphonies across the United States and abroad. Professional highlights include both leading and supporting roles with The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Long Beach Opera, New York City Opera, Arizona Opera, Ohio Light Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Stockton Opera and San Diego Opera. Todd has been featured on various recordings with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, and can be heard performing several lead roles with Ohio Light Opera onAlbany Records. Todd has sung on various popular film scores, including the blockbuster, Sing! as the operatic Camel. Todd had the privilege of working with John Williams for Star Wars, The Last Jedi. Other movies include Us, The Lion King, Smallfoot, Star Wars, Deadpool 2, Rogue One, Frozen, Minions, Jungle Cruise, Mulan, Bumblebee, and The Simpsons. Past roles with Long Beach Opera include the title role in Candide, Taylor in the World Premier of Fallujah by Tobin Stokes, and the Tenor Soloist in Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox.
Ensemble/Antron's Mother/Kevin's Mother/Others
American soprano, Joelle Lamarre is an in-demand performer of new works by living composers. This season, she returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago to sing Verna in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones and is happy to return to Long Beach Opera to perform in Anthony Davis’s Pulitzer Prize–winning opera The Central Park Five. This Chicago native started her 2022 season with her debut in the Night of Song concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s internationally recognized and critically acclaimed new-music series, MusicNOW; curated by CSO’s Composer-in-Residence Jessie Montgomery. Also this season, she originates the role of Elizabeth Alumond in the world premiere production of Quamino’s Map at Chicago Opera Theater. Notable past performances include those in George Lewis’s experimental opera Afterword: The AACM (as) Opera and the Chicago premieres of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. A 3Arts Make a Wave grant recipient, Lamarre performs across genres in theatre, musical theatre, and opera, and seeks to push boundaries as a librettist, poet, and artistic advisor. She is the creator of the one-act play The Violet Hour, which explores the life and career of American soprano Leontyne Price.
Lindsay Patterson Abdou
Described as “…having a voice that haunts and thrilled,” Mezzo-Soprano Lindsay Patterson Abdou is a proud performer of contemporary opera and choral music. She is excited to reprise her role as Sharon Salaam with Long Beach Opera. Other performance highlights include Bow in the Industry’s Sweet Land, and The Metropolitan Opera’s 2019/2020 production of Porgy and Bess in the chorus ensemble. Currently, Lindsay is a Chrisman Studio Artist with Opera Santa Barbara she will make her role debut in the production of Speed Dating Tonight by Michael Ching. In April, Lindsay will be the Mezzo Soprano soloist in Derrick Skye’s electroacoustic hyper opera Where can we go, from here?. In addition to opera, Lindsay is a roster alto with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and Tonality where she recently sung background vocals for Björk’s California tour. She received her B.A. in Music from the University of California Riverside and M.M. in Vocal Performance from California Baptist University. When not performing, Lindsay is proud momma to daughter Vianne (3) and son Gabriel (1).
Corey Estelle, a native of Houston, Texas, is a tenor who began his music career in the field of music education, receiving his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Houston Baptist University in 2014. Corey Joined Bach Society Houston in 2013, singing as a soloist and ensemble member until 2016. He had the privilege of collaborating with other early music groups in Houston during this time such as Mercury Chamber Orchestra and Ars Lyrica Houston. Corey performed as a soloist in Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri, Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit Pour Noel, H. 9 and Te Deum, H. 146, and Handel’s Messiah during his time in the ensemble. After his third season in Bach Society Houston Corey returned to his childhood public school district and served as an assistant choir director at Hodges Bend Middle School in FBISD until 2019, receiving several high ratings in state-regulated choir contests. Despite earning valuable experience in the classroom and improving his teaching skills, he decided to return to school and completed a master's degree in Vocal Performance at University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in 2021 while also serving as a Teaching Assistant. During this time, he gained valuable experience singing the character Flute/Thisby in USC’s production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He also sang in the chorus for The Opera Buffs Inc. performance of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. After completing his masters Corey applied for the DMA Vocal Arts program at USC and was accepted and awarded another Teaching Assistantship. Corey is also a guest lecturer of voice for the 2021-2022 school year at Pomona College. Currently, Corey is preparing the roles Hare, Kuzma, Operator, and Town Crier in All the Truths We Cannot See (A Chernobyl Story), a new opera by Uljas Pulkkis for USC Thronton’s Spring 2022 opera Production.
Josè Luis Maldonado
Ensemble/Raymond's Father/Matias Reyes
Hailed by Opera News as a “seemingly unlimited baritone,” Josè Luis Maldonado, from Los Angeles, California is making his Long Beach Opera debut. He received his Bachelors of Music from California State Univesity, Fullerton in vocal performance and his Masters of Music in vocal performance form the Manhattan School of Music. As a career grant recipient from the Opera Buffs Inc. and Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient from the Shoshana Foundation, Maldonado has been able to travel across the world, performing in Italy, Spain, Mexico, China and across the US. His roles include Don Alfonso (Così fan tutte), Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), Escamillo (Carmen) , and the title role of Falstaff (Falstaff). He recently performed Sharpless in Madama Butterfly in Busseto, Italy last summer. Last fall, he performed Masetto in Don Giovanni with Mission Opera and Baron du Pictordu in Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon with Santa Monica Opera Theater. Maldonado will attend the Aspen Music Festival this summer, covering Sir Bryn Terfel as Sir John Falstaff, in Verdi’s comedic masterpiece, Falstaff. This fall he will attend Michigan State University to pursue his Doctorate in Musical Arts in vocal performance, focusing on Verdi repertoire under the tutelage of Mark Rucker. For more information, visit www.BaritoneJoe.com and/or follow him on social media @Baritone_Joe
Pablo Santiago is a Mexican-American Lighting Designer and the winner of the Richard Sherwood Award and Stage Raw Award and multiple Ovation Award nominee. Pablo is proud to have long standing collaborations with many great artists such as James Darrah, Jose Luis Valenzuela, Ellen Reid, Missy Mazzoli, Karen Zacarias, Bill Rouch, Patricia Mcgregor, Ted Hearne, Christopher Rountree, Francois-Pierre Couture, Adam Rigg, Adam Larsen and Yuval Sharon. Pablo has designed for companies such as Santa Fe Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Opera Omaha, Center Theater Group, Music Academy of The West, Broad Museum and Beth Morrison Projects. Some of the amazing venues he has worked at include: Teatro Municipal Sao Paulo, The Goodman Theater, Disney Hall, Davies Hall, Mark Taper Forum, Kennedy Center and Arena Stage in DC, La MaMa in NYC, Skirball Center, Paramount Theater, Huntington Theater and Majestic Theater in Boston, and BAM- Harvey Theater. Recent highlights include: Lord of Cries (Santa Fe Opera), The Fall of The House of Usher and Desert In (digital feature films for Boston Lyric Opera); the Anonymous Lover (Digital Content- LA Opera); Pulitzer Winner p r i s m (Sao Paulo, LAO, Prototype Festival), Macbeth and Mother Road (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arena Stage); Place (BAM-LA PHIL-Beth Morrison Projects), Proving Up (ONE Festival/Opera Omaha and Miller Theater); Valley of The Heart and Zoot Suit (Mark Taper Forum); Threepenny Opera, Norma (Boston Lyric Opera); Destiny of Desire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman Theatre, Arena Stage); War of the Worlds (Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry); Breaking the Waves (OperaPhila and Prototype Festival); Pelleas et Melisande (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra); Flight, Pagliacci and Madame Butterfly (Opera Omaha); On The Town (San Francisco Symphony); Skeleton Crew and The Cake (Geffen Playhouse). Instagram: @pablosdesign
Molly Irelan is an LA-based Costume Designer. She prides herself on a holistic approach to her work and is trained in the history and construction of garments as well as design. Molly holds a Bachelor’s degree in Costume History and Design from the University of Redlands (2010), an Associate degree in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Portland (2012), and a Master’s in Costume Design from UCLA (2016).
Molly has designed, assisted, and costumed for film, television, commercials, music videos, and over a dozen Operas. Molly has also been a frequent collaborator of director James Darrah. Having designed operas Elixir D’Amour (2017), Il Due Figaro (2018), and Cold Mountain (2019) at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Amadigi (2016), Orphée (2020) at UCLA, Rev 23 (2020) at Prototype Festival, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning p r i s m (2018) in Los Angeles, New York, Sao Paolo Brazil, and the Kennedy Center. Most recently, they collaborated on the Boston Lyric Opera miniseries desert in (2021) and opera feature Mirror Flores.
This spring she will be designing The Tragedy of Carmen in the Maldives and Eugene Onegin at Music Academy of the West.
DANNY FIANDACA (Sound Designer) Southern California native has worked in sound design and mixing for over twenty years, locally for Cabrillo Music Theatre, Center Theater Group, Sierra Madre Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre, & LA Opera. He was resident Sound Designer for Princess Cruises from 2010-2020 collaborating with producers such as Stephen Schwartz and the Jim Henson company. He spent several years working on touring musical theatre productions throughout the U.S. and Asia as well as the Broadway production of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away.
Andrea Joy Pearson
Andrea Joy Pearson is an optimization strategist who is committed to helping herself and others walk in their power and utilize their space to live more full and successful lives.
She specializes in process improvement, human capital knowledge, psychological safety, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). As the Director of Belonging and Inclusion at Opera Omaha, Andrea Joy advocates for the cultivation of spaces where everyone feels they have the opportunity to bring their best and most authentic selves to the table.
Andrea Joy is a champion of honesty, vulnerability, and courage to foster high performance in work and life by reframing possibilities and perceived boundaries.
‘When genuine connection, inspiration, and innovation meet, greatness is sure to follow.’ - AJP
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Voice Performance from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her Master of Music in Voice and Opera from the University of Kentucky. Additionally, she is certified in Human Resources Management and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.
Rogelio Douglas III
Brooklyn native, Rogelio Douglas III is an actor, spoken-word poet, and teaching artist who strives to impact the community in artistic ways that transcend generations. He holds a BA in Theater from the State University of NY, at New Paltz, and an MFA in Acting from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Theatre, Film & Television.
Rogelio identifies as Black and Afro-Latino; which encourages him to focus his storytelling on what it means to take up space and to own that space — safely, but bravely. As an actor/poet, Rogelio travels to different communities to perform his work at events in hopes to create more conversations about what it means to be BLACK. His goal is to use his interdisciplinary training to relate, inform and motivate multicultural beings so that they can then foster their own artistic tools for navigating life. He is a trained poet, athlete (track/field and basketball), mover (modern dance, tap dance, hip hop, yoga), and an active student of the Suzuki and Viewpoints Method of Acting (trained rigorously by the original and current members of the SITI Company). Rogelio has also studied non-traditional American theater and dance in Avignon, France and in Limon, Costa Rica - his home roots.
As a director and teaching artist, RD3 is very passionate about inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves. He teaches acting, movement, improv, and public speaking to a range of students at the Theater of Arts Drama Conservatory in Hollywood, and occasionally at UCLA. He is also a Program Coordinator at UCLA for pre-college students and professional adults who are interested in the performing arts business. It is important to Rogelio to help others recognize and explore their unique voices and bodies as we deconstruct and reconstruct time and space. Best believe there's another degree coming soon!
A few of his most recent credits include ARCANE: Enter the Undercity immersive theater (Secret Cinema/Riot Games), classical plays such as Measure for Measure, as Claudio, and Titus Andronicus, as Aaron, (Shakespeare by the Sea), Stranger Things The Drive-Into Experience (Secret Cinema/Netflix), and an international production called The Art of Facing Fear directed by Rodolfo García Vázquez. RD3 can also be seen in numerous films, as well co-starring roles on NBC, CBS, and HBO.
He was recently cast as a principal role in an upcoming TV show called Space Lighting on TBN via Amazon Prime. This summer, RD3 is also partnering/leading a Film Festival in Costa Rica that highlights Afro-Caribbeans and their artistic, cultural, and economic contributions to entertainment! Bridging the gap! Love. Light. & Poetry. www.RogelioDouglasiii.com | @RogelioDouglas3
Performances of The Central Park Five will be held at Jordan Auditorium (on the campus of Jordan High School) in North Long Beach. All information regarding directions, parking, dining, and more will be posted here soon.
Health & Safety Measures
Please make sure to review LBO's up-to-date health and safety measures prior to your visit. Information regarding vaccine requirements, masks, and more can be found here.
Getting to Jordan Auditorium
LOCATION: 6500 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805
ARRIVALS: We suggest arriving 60 minutes prior to the performance. The house will open 30 minutes before the start of the show.
DIRECTIONS: The entrance to the parking lots (see below) can be accessed via Atlantic Ave on the west side of the high school campus. The theater and entrance to the parking is on the northwest side of the campus, close to the intersection of Atlantic Ave and Artesia Blvd. If you enter the name “Jordan High School” into your GPS, note that the theater is on the campus of the high school and can be recognized by the large mural of a panther painted on the side. Please note that if you are exiting the 91 Freeway and driving southbound on Atlantic Ave, there is a median that prevents you from turning left into the parking lot. Please continue southbound on Atlantic Ave and make a u-turn when allowed and is safe to do so.
ON-SITE PARKING: There are two parking lots at the venue and they are connected by one roadway that runs behind the theater. All parking is accessible from the entrance on Atlantic Ave which enters into Parking Area 1. Once that lot is filled, the remainder of the parking is through that roadway behind the theater into Parking Area 2 (the larger lot). ADA parking spaces are available in both areas. Please refer to the map here.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Take the Metro Blue Line to Artesia Station. From the train platform, take the bus east to Atlantic Avenue and Artesia Boulevard.
If you require ADA-accessible seating but have not reserved an ADA-accessible seat, please contact the box office by emailing [email protected] or by calling (562) 470-7464.
Reception for All
After every performance, LBO will host a reception for all audience members to mingle and meet the artists. These "Receptions for All" are generously sponsored by the Port of Long Beach and we are grateful to the Port for supporting this opportunity to come together! Receptions will take place immediately following the performances at the venue.
This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at cac.ca.gov
Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission