VOG Los Angeles Opera & Art Tour
November 26 – 30, 2015
Of the 34 Los Angeles tour participants, 30 left on an afternoon Air Canada flight while the other four joined us at the hotel. Just before landing in Los Angeles, one of the flight attendants welcomed the Vancouver Opera group and wished us a pleasant stay and enjoyable opera going – a nice touch.
After collecting our luggage, a short bus ride took us to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel located on South Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. It is one of the grand old hotels but has been extensively renovated and everyone seemed to enjoy its gracious elegance. It is within comfortable walking distance of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the recently opened Broad Museum which were all on our itinerary. Shortly after arrival we enjoyed an excellent welcome reception in the Cognac Room, just off the hotel lobby.
The following morning we set out by bus for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and had nearly three hours to explore this very extensive museum and garden. Many of us opted for the morning garden tour which was conducted by a very knowledgeable guide who used to work in Vancouver and has two daughters living here. He shortened the tour for us so that we would have plenty of time to enjoy the paintings and rare manuscripts as well. We thank Frank Schrack for this photo of the group members taken during the garden tour. Leaving the Huntington, a short bus ride took us through Pasadena to the Norton Simon Museum which displays one of the world’s finest private collections of European, American and Asian art.
Our first performance took place this evening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It featured the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Music & Artistic Director, Gustavo Dudamel plus four dancers from American Ballet Theatre including Roberto Bolle. The acoustics in this concert hall are considered some of the best in the world and we were treated to a truly inspiring evening.
Next day we met at the Broad Museum, a contemporary art museum which opened in September 2015 and, judging by the lengthy line-ups whenever we walked by, it is extremely popular. Unfortunately our visit was cut short by the sound of the fire alarm soon after our admission and everyone had to evacuate. It turned out to be a false alarm and the museum re-opened after a while but a bit too late for the majority of us who were continuing to the Getty Center for the afternoon. This museum straddles the top of a hill in Santa Monica and is reached by a short tram ride. In addition to its amazing art collection, the views of the surrounding area and the coast are quite spectacular.
Our second performance was Moby-Dick at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this evening and many of the tour group met for a very successful pre-opera dinner at an Italian restaurant. Most of us had little concept of the transformation of Moby-Dick from novel to opera but the magnificent musical score and great singing from Jay Hunter Morris as Captain Ahab added to the compelling story. The stunning visual effects also added greatly to the intensity of the performance.
Sunday we had some free time before the matinee performance of Bellini’s Norma. Not only is it considered his greatest opera but the supreme achievement of the whole bel canto school. The highly emotional and dramatic story was beautifully sung by a superlative quartet of soloists led by soprano Angela Meade in the title role
The next morning we left by bus for the Getty Villa in Malibu which is a museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. It was a beautiful day and there was time to relax and enjoy refreshments at their outdoor café before heading to the airport and our return flight to Vancouver.
Our thanks go to all the tour members for helping to make this such an enjoyable experience.
Submitted by Jennie Wong and Genny MacLean, Tour Leaders