Opera gets slapped with the ‘elitist’ label. L.A. proves just how wrong that is

The Book of Mountains and Seas

Mark Swed Los Angeles Times, 2024

“The singers, the Ars Nova Copenhagen, are the real stars. Indeed for the West Coast appearances of “Mountains and Seas,” which is currently touring, this amazing Danish chamber choir might well have set the scene for the 75-minute opera with Lou Harrison’s “Mass for Saint Cecilia’s Day.” The group’s meditative yet exhilarating recording of this Californian mix of Harrison’s gothic chant and ancient Asian tunings is a model for what Huang Ruo was after. Still the sounds were entrancing and the giant puppet impressive.

Atmosphere may not an opera make, but as escapes from reality go, there are far fewer appealing ones than this. And with luck L.A. Opera’s efforts at taking the elitism out of opera may make a difference.”

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