Pepperdine’s Spring Opera and Theater Productions Are a Local Delight

Smothers Theater is part of Pepperdine University’s Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Performing Arts. Photo courtesy of the Center

Pepperdine University’s Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Performing Arts offers a spring program of theater and opera that doesn’t require a trip to Downtown LA.

In 2018, the Edinburgh Studio Opera performed a double-bill of Dido and Aeneas, a 17th century tragic opera by Henry Purcell, and Gianni Schicchi, a 20th century comedic farce by Giacomo Puccini. The production was highly effective, contrasting the dark and convoluted tragedy with the light-hearted romp.

Now, the back-to-back opera program is being performed by Pepperdine University’s Flora Thornton Opera Program, on Thursday, February 27, 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, February 29, 7:30 p.m.

“The Flora Thornton Opera Program showcases its depth and versatility in this double billing of Purcell’s baroque tragedy and Puccini’s verismo comedy,” a press release for the performance states. 

The works will be performed with a brief intermission. Both operas feature memorable arias, including Purcell’s “When I am laid in earth” and Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro.”

 Dido and Aeneas will be sung in English, and Gianni Schicchi will be sung in Italian. The performances are directed by Keith Colclough, with the Pepperdine University Orchestra conducted by Long Tao Tang.

 Tickets are $20. The performances take place at the Smothers Theatre on the Pepperdine University campus in Malibu.

Other upcoming performances at Pepperdine University include the play Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. This comedic pastiche of Jane Austen’s best loved novel is directed by Bradley Griffin, and presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York. Tuesday, January 28–Friday, January 31, at 7:30 p.m. , and Saturday, February 1, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 Tickets are $15. The performances will take place at the Lindhurst Theatre, Pepperdine’s flexible “black box” performance space. 

Checkhov’s The Cherry Orchard will be performed on Wednesday, April 15–Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m., at the Smothers Theatre.

This is Tom Stoppard’s 2009 revisioning of Anton Chekhov’s 20th century theater classic, first performed for the Bridge Project, a partnership between North American and UK theaters. 

The Pepperdine production is directed by Hollace Starr. 

It’s early 20th-century Russia, and a new economic and social order has everyone in the Ranevskaya clan turned upside down. When self-made millionaire Lopakhin reveals his plan to save the beloved family estate, Lyubov must decide what she values more: the estate itself, or her own delusions. Pepperdine’s Theatre Program presents The Cherry Orchard, the final masterpiece of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, in a recent adaptation by Tom Stoppard.

Join a talkback with the actors and director after the Wednesday performance.

Tickets are $15.


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