Birds in the Moon is a fantastical story with live music, soundscapes and video projections that conveys the urgency and hope that the Bird-Mother experiences as she protects her young daughter from menacing forces that threaten to derail their journey - one that embodies themes of freedom, migration and borders. This is a new, mobile chamber opera performed inside and on top of a specially designed shipping container.
This event is presented outdoors on Santa Monica Lot #27, located at the corner of Arizona and 5th Street, in partnership with Downtown Santa Monica, and is made possible in part by Art of Recovery, an initiative of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs.
There is no parking on-site. There are many paid parking structures in the area. The closest are at 1375 5th Street, 429 Santa Monica Boulevard and 1333 4th Street.
Created by The Broad Stage in collaboration with Birds in the Moon, this Learning Guide is for learners of all ages, providing artist insights, inviting the reader to delve further into their artistic process and the content areas relevant to the performance. Educators are invited to use these elements to create arts integrated lesson plans with the suggested California stage standards, social justice standards and social emotional learning competencies.
Santa Monica College/Barrett Gallery
In partnership with The Broad Stage, the Birds in the Moon creative team and the Santa Monica College (SMC) Art Department offered SMC students the opportunity to create artwork inspired by Birds in the Moon. A digital display of the impressive student artwork created in these workshops is at Santa Monica College’s Barrett Art Gallery website.
The Birds in the Moon artistic team selected SMC student, Juanita Hernandez, to create commissioned artwork as part of their marketing materials and The Broad Stage is providing prizes for student art pieces as selected by members of the Birds in the Moon artistic team.
The Broad Stage believes in supporting the growth and development of our next generation and is rising to meet a rapidly evolving set of needs for artists, audiences, and community, with the aim to advance our role as an invaluable cultural resource.
Commissioned by Linda & Stewart Nelson
In collaboration with Meyer Sound.
RINGMASTER: Austin Spangler
Austin Spangler is a dynamic multi-talented actor and movement director who has won awards in Rome, Cannes and New York for numerous film projects over the last ten years. Most notably gaining international acclaim with ‘Embrace Life’, while action choreographing on some of the world’s biggest stages; Bregenz Fespiel, Austria, Royal Opera House and LA Opera with the likes of Nabucco, Andre Chenier, The Magic Flute, Tosca and The Ring Cycle.
Born in Connecticut, Austin graduated from Central St Martins School of Fine Art London, going on to successfully work in theatre, film and opera with the likes of Ralph Fiennes (Julius Caesar), Russel Crow (A Good Year), Daniel Brule (The Face of an Angel), and Bryn Terfel & Susan Bullock at ROH, while also stunt training with members of Cirque de Sole, De la Guarda and RC Annie, Austin was then asked to teach on the Young Artist Programmes at LAO & ROH.
BIRD MOTHER: Maria Elena Altany
Upon her 2015 LA Opera debut as Susana in ¡Figaro! (90210), Opera News called Maria Elena Altany ``delightfully smart and quicksilver.`` She continues to perform with LA Opera Connects, and has performed with Long Beach Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera San Luis Obispo, Pacific Opera Project, New Opera West, The Hammer Museum and the LA Philharmonic. She is a Company Member and a regularly featured performer with the groundbreaking opera company The Industry, led by director Yuval Sharon.
This performance is dedicated to mothers desperate to rejoin their children. The separation of children from their loved ones and caretakers due to residency status is intolerable. Maria Elena stands firmly in solidarity with migrating families. A portion of the artist’s fee has been donated to The Florence Project and the Texas Civil Rights Project.
PRODUCER: Cath Brittan
Cath Brittan is originally from Manchester, England. Since moving to the US from Vienna in 2015 she has been working with, amongst others, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cal Performances, Kronos Quartet, San Francisco Symphony, Opera Philadelphia, National Sawdust, The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Met Live Arts (Metropolitan Museum of Art), the Lincoln Center and Peter Sellars. Recent and up-coming productions include Aci, Galatea e Polifemo (dir. Christopher Alden) and Glass Handel (2018 & 2019), Comet Poppea (dir. Yuval Sharon), Amadigi de Gaula (dir. Louisa Muller) all with Anthony Roth Costanzo; Das Paradies und die Peri, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Peter Sellars; 2018/19 and 19/20 Soundbox Season, San Francisco Symphony; Orphic Moments dir. Zack Winokur with The Master Voices; Abraham In Flames (composer Aleksandra Vrebalov); Arkhipov (composer Peter Knell); Birds in the Moon (composer Mark Grey); Iphigenia (Wayne Shorter & esperanza spalding) and In a Grove (Composer Christopher Cerrone). Cath is also the producer for AMOC*, the American Modern Opera Company (Artistic Directors: Zack Winokur & Matt Aucoin).
LIBRETTIST: Júlia Canosa i Serra
Playwright and librettist Júlia Canosa i Serra has worked for many international projects since 1996. She collaborates with many artists, directors, dancers and composers. Her most notable works include The Lorca Project by Benjamin Dwyer and VOX21 in Dublin, Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s Mini-Stories, Raymond Deane’s The Wall of Cloud at the Opera Theatre Company, also in Ireland. She has worked in many productions for Sala Becket Obrador Internacional de Dramatúrgia in Barcelona. She has worked with Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus) as a dramaturg, particularly in Quartett (Francesconi) at Teatro alla Scala in Milan or more recently in Histoire du Soldat (Stravinsky) for Ópera de Lausanne and Lyon. She also directed and wrote La Chaudière Intime for Le Pot au Noire, Grenoble. Last April 2019, she debuted her adaptation of Frankenstein by Mark Grey at La Monnaie Opera House in Brussels. She is currently writing an adaptation of The Odyssey for Mark Grey.
Friction Quartet exists to modernize the chamber music experience and expand the string quartet repertoire. Friction achieves this mission by commissioning new works, curating imaginative programs, collaborating with artists, and presenting interactive educational outreach. Since forming in 2011, Friction has commissioned 43 works for string quartet and given world premiere performances of more than 80 works. They won Second Prize in the 2016 Schoenfeld Competition, were quarter-finalists in the 2015 Fischoff Competition, and placed second at the 2015 Frances Walton Competition. Friction has held residencies at the New Music for Strings Festival in Denmark, Interlochen Arts Camp, Lunenburg Academy of Music, Napa Valley Performing Arts Center, Old First Concerts, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and was the first ensemble in residence at the Center for New Music. They have served as educators for three consecutive years with the SF Symphony’s Adventures in Music Program.
COMPOSER: Mark Grey
The music of American composer Mark Grey has been commissioned or premiered by such organizations as The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The New York Philharmonic, The National Opera of Belgium La Monnaie | de Munt Opera, Carnegie Hall, CalPerformances, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, Kronos Quartet, Berkeley Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Green Bay Symphony, California Symphony, The Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Meet The Composer and others along with festivals at Ravinia, Cabrillo, OtherMinds, Perth International and Spoleto. Grey was commissioned by La Monnaie | de Munt to write an evening-length grand opera Frankenstein which premiered in Brussels during the spring of 2019, to a libretto by Júlia Canosa i Serra. Grey is an Emmy Award-winning sound designer who made history as the first sound designer for The New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall (On the Transmigration of Souls, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2002) and The Metropolitan Opera (Doctor Atomic, 2008; Nixon in China, 2011; Death of Klinghoffer, 2014; The Merry Widow, 2015; Bluebeard’s Castle/Iolanta, 2015; L’Amour de Loin, 2016). He has collaborated closely with composer John Adams and several others for nearly three decades.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO PROJECTION DESIGNER: Deborah O’Grady
Fine art photographer and video artist Deborah O’Grady is a frequent collaborator with orchestras, including the Saint Louis Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the United States Navy Band, creating video projections for live symphonic performance. From 2006-2008, O’Grady traversed the Navajo Nation to create projections for the oratorio "Enemy Slayer" in collaboration with Mark Grey and Laura Tohe. She continued her collaboration with Tohe in Code Talker Stories, creating portraits of the World War II Navajo Marines. This collection is in the Albuquerque Art Museum. O’Grady’s fine art photography examines the landscapes of the western United States using recorded myths and stories as her map. Recent landscape work looks beyond human impacts, to find nature's strength and resurgence, in response to the climate crisis.
MOBILE THEATER/SET DESIGNER: Chad Owens
Chad Owens is a multidisciplinary maker/artist with a broad background in custom wood and metal fabrication, fabric work, painting, drawing, site-specific installation and technical production. He has created original staged designs for more than 100 productions, for companies including Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, West Edge Opera, Cal Performances, RAWdance, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival and many others. Set Design and Art Direction for major motion pictures include Blue Jasmine, Milk (Academy Award and Art Director’s Guild nominations for best production design), Chasing Mavericks, Haywire, Contagion, The Pursuit of Happyness (sic), Haiku Tunnel, Woman on Top, as well as for television series The OA, 13 Reasons Why, Trauma and others. He has worked extensively as an Associate Designer on Broadway, including Wonderful Town, Dinner at Eight, 42nd Street and Into the Woods, all of which received Tony nominations for best sets.
DIRECTOR: Elkhanah Pulitzer
Known for her bold, nuanced and innovative stage direction, Elkhanah Pulitzer is an esteemed director of opera and theater. A passionate storyteller, she has directed operas nationally and internationally including performances with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, LA Philharmonic, LA Opera, Washington National Opera, SF Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, West Edge Opera and Canadian Opera Company, among others. Additionally, she served as Artistic Curator of SF Opera Lab, an experimental chamber opera program at SF Opera, where she developed the mission, brand, and programming for the first two seasons. Born in Boston and raised in St. Louis and Marin, Pulitzer is also board vice president of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, which supports experimentation in art installations and live programming.