Commentary: Redemption, writ large, in L.A. Opera’s divine ‘Omar’
It’s the last, and very special, performance of this year’s West Coast Opera’s annual “Golden Years” gala, and this is a piece that goes to the top of the list.
While we often associate L.A. Opera with big-budget, spectacle-filled (and expensive) productions — and it seems the golden years are always of the opera variety — “Omar,” a new opera from L.A. Opera that is a love story of sorts — and a reminder of the many wonderful gifts that the city’s Opera stage once provided — is a new story, written by “The Wire” star Dominic Fumusa with the help of opera directors David C. Ross and Stephen Marcussen of the San Francisco Opera.
It’s this kind of rich, epic tale that makes this L.A. opera a rare gem.
The tale is about Omar (Fumusa), a young man who lives in a squalid apartment in a dilapidated housing project. He is trying to become the man he has always wanted to be. The man he wants to be is a wealthy man. He wants to become the man with the perfect life. And for a good reason – the man is his mother’s brother.
He is an ambitious man. He has big dreams. He is driven by what he thinks is right. He feels empty, lost, and he thinks he can use that to make something better of his life. And in so many ways, he does. He becomes a wealthy man. He gets married. He buys a house. He lives in the perfect world.
His life turns out to be exactly the opposite in the end. He is trapped by his own ambitions and his inability to live in the real world that is just out from the window.
The story is about the great love of a man for his mother and also about what happens when that love turns in to hate. And through the story, you never really know if that hatred is your own or if it is something that Omar has inherited from his mother.
Omar is the story of a man who is determined to make something of his life. When he is stuck, the love and determination that he wants to share with you come down on him harder and harder.
The love story that he can share with his mother – that he can share to