After fitful stops and starts throughout the previous century, Southern California finally has a thriving opera scene. L.A. Opera presents the most lavish and traditional productions, but in recent seasons it has opened up to more modern and adventurous works, in part because of the impact of its neighbor to the south, Long Beach Opera. Whereas Pacific Opera Project specializes in wildly irreverent, high-flying comic operas, the similarly smaller-scale Long Beach Opera prefers to delve into moodier and more experimental productions, such as John Adams and June Jordan's Northridge earthquake fable, I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, and David Lang and Mac Wellman's eerily ambiguous plantation mystery, The Difficulty of Crossing a Field. In keeping with the chameleonic nature of its productions, LBO puts on its cleverly staged spectacles in a variety of venues, from the ornate Warner Grand Theatre to a warehouse by the San Pedro docks.

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