Long Beach Opera Receives $30,000 NEA Grant for U.S. Premiere of Marilyn Monroe Opera

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NEA grant will support the U.S. premiere of Marilyn Forever

Long Beach Opera (LBO) is thrilled to announce the award of $30,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). LBO is one of 917 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant, and the only organization from Long Beach represented on this year’s list of award recipients.

The Artworks grant will support the U.S. premiere of Marilyn Forever by composer Gavin Bryars and librettist Marilyn Bowering. The work, equal parts chamber opera and film noir score, explores the life and myth of Marilyn Monroe, going beyond the American icon’s persona to reveal an intimate portrait of an intelligent woman filled with conflicting emotions and ambitions. Marilyn Forever’s cast of characters includes Miss Monroe and the men she kept closest to her, supported by an onstage jazz combo and an offstage chamber orchestra.

A portion of the award will also offset the cost of bringing 500 local students to the final dress rehearsal as part of LBO’s education program, Opera Access. During the 2014 season, Opera Access, a branch of LBO’s education program OperaEncounter, saw nearly 1,000 students and teachers attend performances at no cost to the schools or students.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “I’m pleased to be able to share the news of our support through Art Works, including the award to Long Beach Opera. The arts foster value, connection, creativity and innovation for the American people and these recommended grants demonstrate those attributes and affirm that the arts are part of our everyday lives.”

LBO’s Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek comments, “We are proud to be a recipient of the NEA’s award for our U.S. Premiere production. We also see it as an endorsement of the work we do and an encouragement to continue to bring new, fearless compositions to Long Beach audiences and to the United States.”

About The Opera
COMPOSER: Gavin Bryars
LIBRETTIST: Marilyn Bowering
DATES: March 21, 2015 at 8pm, March 29, 2015 at 2:30pm
VENUE: Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro

More reverie than reality, the U.S. premiere of Marilyn Forever celebrates a true American idol known by all, but understood by few. With the help of a chamber orchestra and onstage jazz trio, Gavin Bryars strings together a series of Hollywood vignettes as told by Marilyn Monroe and the men in her life, from stage directors to husband Arthur Miller. The sultry, film noir musical pallet, like Norma Jeane herself, is at once amorous and distant, accessible and mysterious.

LBO’s production follows the 2013 world premiere in Victoria, Canada. The libretto, written by Canadian poet and playwright Marilyn Bowering, is a refashioning of her 1987 collection of poetry about Marilyn, Anyone Can See I Love You, which focuses less on historical accuracy and more on Marilyn Monroe’s inner substance. Bowering places Marilyn in a state of limbo, between life and death, a state that Bowering says includes “psychological moments, reflections, reminiscences and so on…she’s discovering and saying who she is through this night.” Marilyn Forever is LBO’s second U.S. premiere of a Gavin Bryars’ opera, the first being Paper Nautilus in 2012.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that funds and promotes artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector.

About Long Beach Opera
Founded in 1979, Long Beach Opera (LBO) is the oldest opera company in the Los Angeles/ Orange County area and has a national and international reputation for its interpretations of unconventional repertoire in inventive, and often boldly avant-garde, stagings. Productions take place in a variety of venues, from traditional theaters to non-theatrical spaces, with recent site-specific productions including: Ricky Ian Gordon’s Orpheus & Euridice in and around an Olympic swimming pool; Grigori Frid’s The Diary of Anne Frank in parking garages; Viktor Ullmann’s Emperor of Atlantis with Carl Orff’s The Clever One in the hull of the Queen Mary; and Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth at the Port of Los Angeles. The company’s 2015 season features the Los Angeles premiere of Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin, U.S. premiere of Gavin Bryars’ Marilyn Forever, and a new, site-specific production of Philip Glass’ Hydrogen Jukebox, set to take place across multiple stages in San Pedro warehouse. With a production history of over 100 operas, the company is known for the number of its world, West Coast, and U.S. premieres and is unique in presenting most of its performances in English. LBO has been led by two visionary leaders: founder Michael Milenski during LBO’s first 25 years and Austrian conductor, Andreas Mitisek, since 2003.

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