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Los Angeles opera company is filling a need for experimentation

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 Also, if truth be told, Wagner’s notion was not entirely democratic, and this is where LeBaron and The Industry come in.

“In hyperopera, we are still after the total experience, but we go about it in a way that strives to maintain the autonomy of the individual artist," Sharon, who seems to have a deep understanding of the meaning of opera and his goals for the Industry, says. "The process is less hierarchical and more collaborative than the traditional sense of Gesamtkunstwerk, but we are after a similar unification of the disparate arts at play.”

Wagner would have preferred if everything were synthesized in service to the music, but in hyperopera, the expectation is that everybody involved -- musicians, fine artists, choreographers, actors, etc. -- has their eye on everybody else, and together, something truly formidable is produced.

This is definitely the case in The Industry’s flagship production "Crescent City," a post-Katrina New Orleans (going by its nickname Crescent City here) fantasy in which Marie Laveau, the infamous voodoo priestess, is desperate to save her city.

Everybody involved in this project is either from or currently stationed in L.A. (with the exception of Gwendolyn Brown, the superb contralto in the title role of Marie Laveau). Composer LeBaron, director Sharon, producer Laura Swanson, music director Marc Lowenstein, librettist Douglas Kearney, all six visual artists (yes, six), the orchestra, and the singers all come from extremely diverse backgrounds and, in a very L.A. way, exist in accord to serve this locally grown project, particularly when you consider the auxiliary talents of each of them. Both Mr. Lowenstein and LeBaron have won New York City Opera’s Vox Competition for new opera, and Ms. Swanson is a terrific, classically trained singer.

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