According to some critics, opera in the United States is on life support. But if you want proof of the art form's vitality, check out Pacific Opera Project, whose last three productions sold out. Alternating classics such as Carmen with rarities — Cavalli's La Calisto, anyone? — POP is the operatic equivalent of Garland and Rooney putting on musicals in a barn. Its productions may spring up anywhere, but most of them happen in the cabaretlike atmosphere of the Ebell Club, where eating and drinking during the show is encouraged, and patrons are coaxed onstage to become part of the show. Conductor Stephen Karr recruits the finest young singers in L.A., and director Josh Shaw updates plots to connect with millennials. With good music, good voices and imaginative staging, POP's sassy but classy shows lift your spirits without your dropping too much dough re mi. —Christian Hertzog

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