The Northridge Earthquake through opera

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The libretto follows seven young, diverse angelenos in the aftermath of total devastation.

The libretto follows seven young, diverse angelenos in the aftermath of total devastation.
Photo: Long Beach Opera

It’s been 20 years since the Northridge Earthquake rocked Southern California, and now that natural disaster is the setting for an opera that’s having its L.A. premiere at the Ford Amphitheater this Saturday. The opera is called, “I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky” and is by composer John Adams with a libretto by poet June Jordan.

The title, “I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky,” comes from a survivor of the 1994 Northridge earthquake who was quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

The opera was written shortly after the quake 1995 and while it has been performed in places like New York, Paris, and Helsinki, this is the first time it’s being performed this close to the epicenter.

Opera and earthquakes may sound like a strange mix. But the Long Beach Opera’s Artistic and General Director Andreas Mitisek says that John Adams writes the stories of “our lives and the circumstances of our lives,” and that this piece does just that.

The full interview is below:

More information from the Long Beach Opera here. Tickets available here. 

(Full disclosure: The Ford Amphitheater is a KCRW underwriter).