Christopher Rountree Named Music Director of Long Beach Opera
Long Beach Opera announces an audacious 2022 season that seeks to usher in a new era for the company. In addition to the recent announcements of James Darrah as Artistic Director and Derrell Acon as Associate Artistic Director, LBO is also proud to announce the appointment of conductor Christopher Rountree as its new Music Director, beginning immediately. Rountree recently made his LBO debut conducting Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles, directed by Darrah.
The 2022 season will establish a bold new vision for the company that seeks to catalyze the issues of our times through the lens of art, embraces alternative leadership models that value diversity and inclusion, creates and explores the collaborative relationships between cinematic and live opera that invite new audiences, and acknowledges that opera has the power to be relevant, provocative, and inspiring.
The season will begin in March of 2022 with a new production of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s acapella opera STIMMUNG. This transcendental meditation through music will become a literal feast for the senses in a new production at LBO directed by Alexander Gedeon and conducted by Jenny Wong. The season continues with a new short film and live performance entitled QUANDO creatively produced by Derrell Acon. Music from Verdi’s operas La Traviata and Don Carlo and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice are repurposed and refashioned into a 25-minute short film, which will be presented with a live performance in April of 2022.
In May, LBO will present a new production and adaptation of Handel’s Giustino, conceived of and directed by Artistic Director James Darrah, conducted by Music Director Christopher Rountree, and featuring a score adaptation and new music composed by Shelley Washington. Finally, LBO will end its season with Anthony Davis & Richard Wesley’s The Central Park Five. The Pulitzer Prize-winning opera will be presented in a brand new production directed by actor / director and star of Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” Desean Terry.
In addition to LBO’s exciting new season featuring projects curated by new Artistic Director James Darrah, new Associate Artistic Director Derrell Acon and Minister of Culture Alexander Gedeon, LBO is adding a new member to its senior leadership team; Christopher Rountree will serve as LBO’s new Music Director, effective immediately.
Rountree, the founder and Artistic Director of Wild Up, is a lauded conductor who has made a name for himself in contemporary music and opera from Los Angeles to New York City, including multiple collaborations with James Darrah such as the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up in Omaha and New York City. In addition to his duties as Music Director, Rountree will conduct at least one project per season during his tenure including this season’s Giustino, directed by Darrah.
James Darrah LBO’s new Artistic Director and CCO states, “The future of opera at LBO involves empowering dynamic teams of artistic leaders in the field in ways that consistently challenge expectations. I’m so happy to welcome my good friend and one of my favorite collaborators Christopher Rountree to the LBO team and fold his unique brand of fearless, passionate music making into the fabric of LBO’s exciting plans.”
Darrah continued, “We are both interested in constant provocation, innovation and a deeper exploration of the exciting intersection between film and opera, orchestral ensembles and opera companies, and programming that stays on the pulse of both the opera world but also pop culture. LBO is searching for new models and new methods to incorporate our collective key values into a “season” that is not just about programming four performance periods–but curating a larger creative forum that is just, equitable and unprecedented.”
“As we work to build a new identity as a creative “home” to spur a new generation of artists from all mediums ready to push on the boundaries of opera’s forms, I’m excited to begin this process in 2022 by incorporating and engaging with several projects the team at LBO had already started to plan before I joined as the new Artistic Director. LBO embarks this season on a journey and evolution toward a new model of making opera and, as we seek to lead the field, we will all be making bold, unapologetic choices in this pursuit by taking real progressive action in the post-pandemic landscape.”
Christopher Rountree says “It’s the most remarkable thing: getting to make work with such a brilliant band of friends, and to make that work so close to home. Jenny, James, Derrell, Alexander and the whole team at LBO are poised to cut a new opera from the cloth of the old, a buzzing brilliant space where all of the arts meet, and where they intersect with justice, equity, and a thoughtful discourse about history and about the future of our society and our art. I am overjoyed to join this team, and to get to shape the music making at LBO for years to come.”
General Director & CEO Jennifer Rivera states “This is an incredibly exciting and precipitous time to be at Long Beach Opera. Our upcoming season is all about the astonishingly talented game changers we have curating our projects and leading our company. And now, in addition to this Artistic team helmed by James Darrah and Derrell Acon, we are adding Christopher Rountree as our Music Director. Chris is a person who is a totally unique leader in the field of contemporary music and experimentation. He has been able to figure out what is needed in the world of music, and if it doesn’t exist, create it. All I can say about the coming season with this team is: Prepare to be inspired.”