Arts & Entertainment

Pasadena Opera Presents Los Angeles Premiere of Chamber Opera ‘Proving Up’

– Courtesy photo / Facebook, @pasadenaopera

Jan. 17 & 18; 24 & 25 at Boston Court Pasadena

For its fifth production, Pasadena Opera presents the Los Angeles premiere of “Proving Up,” an 80-minute chamber opera by one of the world’s most sought after and exciting creative teams: composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek.

Based on the short story by Karen Russell, “Proving Up” tells the story of the Zegner family, pioneers in 1870s Nebraska, who have finally met all five conditions of the Homestead Act, including securing a coveted glass window. Rumor has it that there’s an inspector close by and, in an act of uncommon generosity, Ma and Pa Zegner send their youngest son, Miles, to a neighboring farm to share their good fortune. But where did the window come from? What price did Pa pay for it? The family has already lost two daughters, whose voices return from beyond the grave to comment on the cost. And when Miles meets the inspector, things don’t go as planned. This spooky ghost story is a fitting allegory for many contemporary American families who are learning the hard way that desire and hard work do not guarantee the attainment of the American Dream.

“There’s never been a better time to tell this story,” says Pasadena Opera Creative Director Indre Viskontas who is also the stage director for this show. “In an election year, we take the time to think about what kind of a country we want to build together. But hopes and dreams aren’t enough to pull many Americans out of the cycle of poverty, and we need to consider the costs of ‘Proving Up,’ not only financially but also in terms of our morals and values. Here’s an opera that gives us the opportunity to empathize with and reflect on both the struggles and the generosity of economically-depressed families in rural America.”

Staged at the intimate Boston Court performance arts center in Pasadena, performances will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17 & 18; 24 & 25, 2020. This production is part of L.A. Opera’s Eurydice Found festival, celebrating new works that explore this ancient myth: Tickets are $35 to $70 and available at

December 26, 2019

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