Valentine’s Day is the inspo behind The Athena Foundation for the Arts‘ February 2023 concert. It was kismet to connect with the LA OperaBabes who loved the idea of an Opera Valentine: an exquisite romantic program of favorite opera songs sung in celebration of Valentine’s Day!
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the musicians and their program. Award winning internationally acclaimed sopranos, Lauren Carter and Angela Molineux and French pianist Anne-Lise Longuemare will light up the stage Sunday, February 5, 2023 with their gorgeous voices and pianistic stylings.
What sets Athena concerts apart is the inclusion of visual artistry. Beautiful imagery and lighting selected for each piece creates an immersive experience. This elevates Valentine’s Day to a whole other level.
I was lucky to catch up with Lauren Carter, the mastermind behind The LA OperaBabes for a pre-concert interview. Here’s the story.
LRW: Lauren and Angela, it was such a pleasure hearing you sing a cappella at the GroupMuse home concert in Santa Monica last summer. Anne-Lise, your piano performance at Boston Court Pasadena with violinist Boryana Popova back in 2019 was riveting. It’s an honor to have all of you perform in The Athena Foundation for the Arts 2023 Winter concert series. May I ask, how did you three meet?
LC: It’s an honor for us to perform for your concert series, thank you so much! Anne-Lise and I met at the French Conservatory of Beverly Hills, where we were both hired to teach. I then asked her to accompany me in a recital, and we did our first concert together at Thayer Hall in 2017. We have been playing together regularly as a duo ever since, at many venues and events around Los Angeles, and we also became good friends.
LRW: That’s wonderful. How did you meet Angela Molineux?
LC: Angela and I met as neighbors in 2019, and really got to know each other during the Covid lockdown when I asked her if she wanted to record some video clips of opera duets from the balcony, having been inspired by the videos of Italians singing opera from their balconies! From there, we formed our group, The LA OperaBabes. Eventually, all three of us joined musical forces, and all became great friends.
LRW: Great story. A musical force, indeed! How did the LA OperaBabes concept come about? Details, please.
LC: The concept originated from us wanting to inspire both ourselves and others with uplifting opera during the height of the Covid pandemic. We began singing outdoors a cappella with social distancing on our shared balcony, then moved on to bookings at private parties and concert venues as restrictions were lifted.
LRW: Brilliant! What is the story now?
LC: We still perform a few a cappella pieces in each LA OperaBabes concert, to focus solely on our voices, and to harken back to our origin as a group: when we were so isolated we could not perform with anyone outside our ‘bubble’ and made music the only way we could. What a fortuitous gift, at any rate, that the two sopranos were in the same building during Covid lockdowns, and could sing even outdoors and distanced without the need of any instrument.
LRW: A meaningful silver lining. Your perseverance in the face of adversity is admirable.
LC: It definitely helped us stay mentally healthy, and we hope we helped many others. That said, we are immensely grateful to now perform with instrumentalists, and we are so happy to now be a trio with Anne-Lise on piano!!!
LRW: Indeed. Very exciting!! For your upcoming Athena program, may I ask how you decided on the pieces curated for the concert? Why these composers? Why now?
LC: We wanted to create a Valentine’s Day Theme for this ‘Opera Valentine’ for the Athena Foundation for the Arts Concert Series. Which was easy for us to do, because our standard repertoire is based on beloved favorites of the opera and classical canon.
LRW: How so?
LC: We are, as an act, always working with the limitation of female duets within the classical canon, especially any and all that are written for two sopranos. That said, we have added additional solos for each artist for this concert! All are in a very romantic theme, ranging from French romantics to swelling Puccini – we think you will find it nothing short of the essence of romanticism.
LRW: I love the inclusion of solos in the program. What about the duos?
LC: As a female vocal duo, we have adapted a few pieces such as, we perform ‘Brindisi’ from La Traviata to broaden our scope from merely duets for two females. It’s a tenor /soprano duet, but the keys work so that we can perform it with my taking the tenor role. We have also adopted ‘Habanera,’ from Carmen, which is a solo into a duet by splitting up the verses and harmonizing on some of the choruses. ‘Pur ti miro,’ a baroque duet, is male / female but sometimes a mezzo takes the pants role, anyway.
LRW: I admire your arranging skills to do this.
LC: Thank you. Most of our repertoire are written as duets ranging time periods from baroque, classical, romantic, to contemporary. We sing in German, French, Italian, English, and Latin, as well. We personally love each and every piece we have chosen for your concert. Hopefully, many of the audience will recognize quite a few of the pieces and will hear one or two of their favorites!
LRW: To hear your voices in those languages will take the audience on a virtual tour of Europe in its golden age. We are honored to have such virtuosos grace the stage. Our audience will be thrilled. May I ask, do you have plans to record your beautiful trios, duos and solos?
LC: There are a few pieces we have discussed recording and hope to have the opportunity to do so in the future.
LRW: I’ll look forward to hearing about it when you do. In closing, do each of you have a favorite quote by a composer or musician that you’d like to share with our readers?
LRW: Inspiring quotes appreciated! We look forward to an equally inspiring concert.
Eager to attend? Please see below.
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Check-in: 3:15 PM
Concert: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM PDT
Church of Scn of the Valley
11455 Burbank Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 91601
•This concert is hosted by The Athena Foundation for the Arts.
•It is not a church event.
•The Community Auditorium is made available for rent to nonprofits and other charitable organizations. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email us. Thank you.
FREE Parking: Farmdale Avenue lot and street parking
Purchase tickets on Eventbrite here or scan the QR code at the door. Cash or Credit card payments by Zettle/Paypal also available. Questions? Please feel free to email us. Looking forward to an inspiring concert!
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