Susi Q Gets Up Close and Personal with Lyric Opera OC This Summer


Susi Q and Lyric Opera OC have teamed up to offer a series of free opera programs, starting with a look at the history of the art and culminating with several rare opportunities to watch talented pianists and opera singers perform up close and personal.

Camila Lima, Aaron Ball, Steve Pence, and Elijah Cineas perform Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette. Nguyen/LOOC

“The first session, Opera 101, will take participants on an educational and entertaining trip through 900 years of music in 90 minutes,” said Jo Ann Ekblad, Susi Q’s director of programs and communications. “Our current plans include performances from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro or Cosi fan Tutte in the fall. La Boheme or another well-known Puccini title in the winter and a Verdi opera in June 2024, possibly Falstaff. We are beyond excited about this partnership and to be able to offer such a wonderful series free of charge.”

The first in the series, Opera 101, will take place on Tuesday, July 25, at the Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Diana Farrell, Emily Weinberg, Melissa Davis and Jessica Mamey perform Jake Heggie’s Two Remain in 2023. Nguyen/LOOC

Lyric Opera OC Artistic Director and President Diana Farrell waxed lyrical about the upcoming programs and said she hopes attendees are blown away by their intimate performances.

Farrell has garnered attention for her insightful work as a stage director and vocal coach. She is the founder and artistic director of Lyric Opera of Orange County, named Emerging Arts Organization of the Year for 2022 by Arts OC. OC Supervisor Katrina Foley named Farrell a 2022 Woman Leader in OC for the Arts.

Michael Segura and Caroline Nelms Madi perform Mozart’s Magic Flute in 2022. Nguyen/LOOC

“Susi Q has a long-standing reputation for community engagement with the arts, and I know that their audiences will be receptive and supportive of our singers,” Farrell said.

“It’s not every day that audiences get the chance to be that close to somebody using their body to produce such a powerful acoustic sound…never mind, have it be beautiful. You can really feel the music, and because the human voice is such a familiar instrument, it can be visceral in the best way.”

Farrell believes that there is something for everyone in opera, no matter what one’s passion is, be it instrumental music, classical voice, or theater.

“As a singer myself, I think my favorite part is that every character is someone we can really identify with, (who) can express themselves in such honest ways. Even when we hear the words they’re saying, the music tells us so much more about their situation and communicates to us in an all-encompassing way.

“Opera also offers a multitude of opportunities for cross-cultural understanding since it is performed in so many different languages and tells stories universal to the human condition which everyone can relate to.”

Laguna Beach Seniors Executive Director and opera fan Nadia Babayi was instrumental in bringing the successful La Traviata Project to the Susi Q a few years back.

“Joyful parts of life, romance and more are all celebrated in opera,” Babayi said. “We are very excited about our partnership with the Lyric Opera OC. This is the perfect, free program for people of all ages to discover why this form of entertainment has proven so enduring.”

Lyric Opera of Orange County’s mission is to engage with a modern and diverse audience by offering meaningful musical experiences that honor the operatic repertoire, feature artistic excellence and present timely showcases of a traditional art form.

More about Lyric Opera OC can be found at

Those interested in registering for Opera 101 can call (949) 715-8105 or email [email protected].

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