When it comes to influences, Ricky Ian Gordon can’t stop at anything, really. Since childhood, he notes, he’s been captivated by Godard, Ozu, Bergman, Fellini, the Beatles, Neil Young, Bartok, Weill, Gershwin, Sondheim, Messiaen, Matisse, van Gogh, Chekhov … “This made me an unusual, perhaps even a strange child,” he wryly observes. It also made him one of today’s foremost American composers, capable of fusing the too-often separate and distinct worlds of opera, Broadway, classical, experimental and popular music, film, Greek mythology, poetry and anything else that sparks his interest into brilliant works that have earned him drooling accolades from every critical corner. Operas like Orpheus & Euridice and The Grapes of Wrath have secured Gordon’s stature as a living treasure. Green Sneakers, his song cycle for baritone, string quartet, piano and empty chair, prompted Opera Today to declare: “In this masterpiece, Gordon has perfected an idiom that goes to the edge of tonality to create a microcosm of pain and despair that has all the markings of a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk.” But in case this all sounds too-too highbrow, don’t worry. Gordon can be a bucket full of fun, especially when he appears in person, as he will in An Evening With Ricky Ian Gordon, singing his songs and accompanying himself at the piano, courtesy of Long Beach Opera.

Fri., March 26, 8 p.m., 2010

LA Weekly