L.A. Opera Sets Company Ticket Sales Record

Company uses new marketing strategy to appeal to young professionals, Latinos.

The Los Angeles Opera set a company record Sunday, with first day ticket sales jumping a whopping 74 percent.

First day single ticket sales for the 2000–01 season totaled $186,263, beating the previous record of $107,177 set in the 1998–99 season. The new season marks the first for Plácido Domingo, who also will perform three concerts with the Kirov Orchestra of St. Petersburg.

Greg Patterson, the company's director of marketing and public relations, attributes the marked increase to a new artistic director, a strong season and a robust economy. The season opens with the first of nine performances of Verdi's Aida on Sept. 6, with Domingo taking the conductor's podium.

Rossini's La Cenerentola, a retelling of the Cinderella story, runs alongside Aida, closing Sept. 26. Britten's Peter Grimes hits the stage in October followed by Puccini's classic La Bohème in November and December.

Mozart's La Nozze di Figaro begins the new year, followed by Handel's Giulio Cesare in February and March. In April, Donizetti's classic opera buffa Don Pasquale will be featured. The season concludes with Puccini's tale of revolutionary love and betrayal, Tosca.

In addition to the operatic performances, Domingo will take the stage for three concert appearances Sept. 10, 13 and 15 with the Kirov Orchestra. Domingo will star in semi-staged performances of Act I of Wagner's Die Walküre and Parsifal. Soprano Eva Johansson and bass Fyodor Kuznetsov will join Domingo in Die Walküre, and Linda Watson and Alan Held will appear in Parsifal. Conductor Valery Gergiev will lead the Kirov Orchestra in their first Los Angeles appearance.

In addition to having a strong season and superstar tenor for an artistic director, the Los Angeles Opera is pursuing new audiences, particularly Latinos and twentysomethings.

The organization Hispanics for L.A. Opera, founded in 1991, focuses on expanding Latino membership in the opera company. The group's participation in L.A. Opera events led to the premiere of Daniel Catáns' Spanish-language opera Florencia en el Amazonas and in welcoming tenor Ramón Vargas to star in the L.A. Opera production of Massenet's Werther.

Another organization, UFO (Urbanites for Opera), aims to bolster the ranks of young professional operagoers through an exclusive ticket package program. Anyone buying a subscription ticket series receives discounts at area restaurants and bars, with exclusive invitations to post-performance theme parties.