Union Station was buzzing with activity. Those attending the Hard Day of the Dead rave at LA's Historic Park, dressed for the event, or should I say barely dressed for it, were rushing through the terminal to catch a train to the park in skimpy Halloween costumes that barely covered their butts. There was the guy in the diaper, rushing by next to the young lady wearing knee high mukluks and a thong. But the most common costume in the station had to be the Sennheiser headphones worn by those lucky enough to line up for 160 free tickets to "Invisible Cities" the opera being staged throughout the historic station by The Industry. Yuval Sharon, the force behind the production company that is pushing the boundaries of opera to find new audiences, announced another free show this coming Sunday, on the heels of the resounding success of the opera's run. Last Sunday's free performance was underwritten by generous donors and Sharon has worked hard to fundraise, including with a Kickstarter campaign, to make the program affordable. He said the response has been astounding, and shows have been added throughout the run to accommodate the clamor for tickets.
"Invisible Cities" is an elegaic look at Italo Calvino's book about Marco Polo and Kubla Khan, and his retelling of the stories Polo told Khan about his travels, real or imaginary. With libretto and music composed by Christopher Cerrone, the setting in the station added an adventurous element to the performance as listeners were encouraged to roam freely and encounter the performers — singers and a group of dancers from the LA Dance project choreographed by Danielle Agami. In Sharon's introductory remarks before the live orchestra began in the old Fred Harvey restaurant, listeners were encouraged to "take off their headsets and enjoy the silence, and share their headsets with bystanders" and I noticed quite a lot of sharing going on as travelers stood transfixed trying to figure out what dream they had walked into while waiting for their bus or train. The piece ended in the old ticket area with dancers barefoot and undulating through the booths where tickets to very real trips once were sold. It was an impressive finale to an exhilarating evening's entertainment. It was hard to decide whether the performers or the location should get top billing. In the end, the whole was so much more than the sum of its parts.
Photos by Iris Schneider.