Mission Opera Artistic Director Joshua Wentz is a man with a plan: Teach music and performing arts to underserved community college students by staging live operas. The nonprofit Mission Opera typically mounts three to four productions a year — everything from Cosi fan tutte to The Telephone — but like every other arts organization, their lights dimmed in 2020 due to the pandemic. This month the company takes to the stage — outdoors this time around — for a new production of Le 66, Jacques Offenbach’s rarely performed comedic operetta, first seen in 1856.
Wentz is enthusiastic. “This will be the first live theater event after the pandemic in the Santa Clarita Valley. Come out and celebrate a return to normalcy,” he told SFCV. About the show itself, he added, “We’re grateful to bring this show to the United States. It’s only been done once before, in New York, which makes this the West Coast premiere. This short, funny, situational comedy is about a guy who thinks he has won the lottery and spends frivolously, only to find out he didn’t win. I think we can all relate to that in some way, shape, or form.”
The short, three-person show is perfect choice for emerging from the pandemic. “I wanted to find a comedy that featured very few singers, to ensure safety and that COVID-19 protocols could be in place so everyone feels protected,” said Wentz. Also in keeping with safety measures, Le 66 will be presented with piano only, not the typical full orchestra that Mission Opera has come to be known for. A press release emphasizes the commitment to protecting everyone involved: “CDC protocols at the time of the show will be strictly followed, and face masks will be required at all times in the performing space.”
Mission Opera will present the show with its original French libretto (with English dialogue) on Saturday, June 5, and Saturday, June 12, at 6 p.m. On Sunday, June 6, and Sunday, June 13, at 6 p.m. performances will be conducted in an all-English translation. All shows will take place outdoors in the private parking lot of Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, located at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita 91350. For those unable to attend in person, the June 13 show will be streamed on Facebook Live at 6 p.m.
The show is double cast, with Alba Franco-Cancel as Grittley, Chris Hunter as Franz, and Gabriel Manro as Berthold on Saturdays, and Jessie Massoudi as Grittley, Shawn Taylor as Franz, and Aaron Ball as Berthold on Sundays. Jamie Sanderson is on deck for cover.
Each Le 66 presentation will begin with a pre-show featuring arias performed by up-and-coming local singers. The entire performance will last 1 hour and 20 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission. General admission tickets for the live show are $20 and can be purchased at www.missionopera.com or through Brown Paper Tickets at https://le66.brownpapertickets.com/
Student and Senior tickets available for $15 with ID at the box office. Concessions and merchandise will be sold before the show and during intermission. Tickets to the streaming show are $4.99 and sold exclusively through Facebook, for the June 13th livestream. Visit www.facebook.com/missionopera for more details.