Directed by Alberto Arvelo, the first-of-its-kind production to feature
a star-studded cast of Deaf Actors, Deaf performers of Venezuela’s Coro de Manos Blancas
and Hearing Singers with the Los Angeles Master Chorale
The Semi-Staged Production for Deaf and Hearing Audiences Will Draw on
the Expressive Power of American Sign Language (ASL) and Beethoven’s Music to
Tell the Timely Tale of Triumph over Oppression
LOS ANGELES, March 9, 2022 –April 14 to 16, 2022, Los Angeles Philharmonic Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a star-studded cast in a groundbreaking event directed by Alberto Arvelo, co-directed by Joaquín Solano and produced in collaboration with Los Angeles’s acclaimed, Tony Award®-winning Deaf West Theatre (Artistic Director DJ Kurs), Artistic Producer Gabriela Camejo, and Deaf performers of El Sistema’s Coro de Manos Blancas (White Hands Choir) in a new production of Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera Fidelio at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Created for both Deaf and hearing audiences, the semi-staged production draws on both American Sign Language’s expressive, gestural poetry and Beethoven’s music to tell the powerful tale of redemption and liberation. The idea for the production was originally developed by Gustavo Dudamel through his Foundation, which he co-chairs with his wife, actress María Valverde, as a means of elevating Deaf artistry to illuminate the opera’s central theme: the fight to overcome obstacles in order to discover one’s own personal freedom. Fidelio premiered in 1805 as Beethoven was losing his hearing.
Gustavo Dudamel said, “All art is rooted in the deeply human need to communicate something, and to have that communication be received and felt. Fidelio is perhaps Beethoven’s purest expression of our ability to overcome adversity, and to reach one another across a seemingly insurmountable divide. That belief in the transformative, transcendent power of music is at the heart of this production, where we have partnered with the extraordinary artists of Deaf West Theatre and the Coro de Manos Blancas, in order to offer a performance with equal resonance to both Deaf and hearing audiences, and remind us that there is always light through the darkness."
DJ Kurs, Artistic Director of Deaf West Theatre, said, “Rarely do the opera houses and concert halls throughout the world open their doors to the Deaf community. Together with the LA Phil, we have been able to create an experience that brings new facets of music to Deaf and hearing audiences. Fidelio is Deaf West Theatre’s first opera and in thinking about the production we kept returning to the fact that for the Deaf community, music transcends sound. This is something Beethoven knew well and is why he cut the legs off his piano so that he could feel the vibrations of the music on the floor as he lost his own hearing. Movement and language are additional portals to music and with the combination of Beethoven’s powerful score and American Sign Language (ASL), we are able to offer Deaf audiences an entry into the world of opera. ASL, the central medium of our staging, is an expressive visual language filled with nuance, movement and poetry that can bring music to life in new ways, creating a synthesis that brings all audiences together.”
Alberto Arvelo, Director, said, “This project is also deeply connected with the sublime possibilities of human expression. All of us involved in this project feel that Fidelio will be a revealing experience for the Deaf and hearing audience. The creative integration that we are promoting has its roots in the most primal search of arts: beauty and communication.”
The acclaimed cast features Amelia Hensley (actor) and Christiane Libor (soprano) as Leonore, Josh Castille (actor) and Ian Koziara (tenor) as Florestan, Russell Harvard (actor) and Ryan Speedo Green (bass-baritone) as Rocco, Indi Robinson (actor) and Gabriella Reyes (soprano) as Marzelline, Gregor Lopes (actor) and José Simerilla-Romero (tenor) as Jaquino, Gabriel Silva (actor) and Shenyang (bass-baritone) as Don Pizarro, and Michael Anthony Spady (actor) and Ethan Vincent (baritone) as Don Fernando. The Los Angeles Master Chorale is led by Artistic Director Grant Gershon and Associate Artistic Director Jenny Wong, and Artistic Director María Inmaculada Velásquez is directing the Coro de Manos Blancas. The entire performance will be signed and sung, with supertitles also provided.
Thursday’s performance (April 14) is generously supported by the Frank Gehry Fund for Creativity and is part of the Otis Booth Foundation Thursday 2 Series. The Friday and Saturday (April 15 and 16) performances are generously supported by an Edgerton Foundation grant.
Additional support for the Coro de Manos Blancas comes from the Dudamel Foundation.
Beethoven’s Fidelio with Dudamel and Deaf West Theatre
Opera in two acts, libretto by Joseph Sonnleithner, Stephan von Breuning, Friedrich Treitschke
Produced in collaboration with Deaf West Theatre
Thursday, April 14, 2022, 8PM
Friday, April 15, 2022, 8PM
Saturday, April 16, 2022, 8PM
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Alberto Arvelo, director
Joaquín Solano, co-director
Deaf West Theatre, produced by DJ Kurs
Los Angeles Master Chorale
Grant Gershon, Artistic Director; Jenny Wong, Associate Artistic Director
Coro de Manos Blancas
María Inmaculada Velásquez, Artistic Director
Leonore: Amelia Hensley (actor), Christiane Libor (soprano)
Florestan: Josh Castille (actor), Ian Koziara (tenor)
Rocco: Russell Harvard (actor), Ryan Speedo Green (bass-baritone)
Marzelline: Indi Robinson (actor), Gabriella Reyes (soprano)
Jaquino: Gregor Lopes (actor), José Simerilla-Romero (tenor)
Don Pizarro: Gabriel Silva (actor), Shenyang (bass-baritone)
Don Fernando: Michael Anthony Spady (actor), Ethan Vincent (baritone)
Gabriela Camejo, Artistic Producer
Solange Arvelo, costume designer
James F. Ingalls, lighting designer
Colin Analco, ASL Choreographer
Natasha Ofili, Associate ASL Choreographer