Pacific Opera Project combines Mozart with Nintendo for next show

Hosted by

“My favorite thing to hear is, ‘I would never come to the opera. But now I come all the time.’ Our audience also loves experiences,” says Josh Shaw, founding artistic director of Pacific Opera Project. Photo courtesy of Pacific Opera Project.

What comes to mind when you think of opera? Actors in wigs and fancy dresses, and pricey tickets? The Pacific Opera Project (POP) is dedicated to making the medium accessible, affordable, and entertaining. John Shaw is the founding artistic director of the nonprofit. 

The group was founded in July 2011 and has grown in years since. Shaw says the core of their mission is to attract new audiences.

“My favorite thing to hear is, ‘I would never come to the opera. But now I come all the time,’” he explains. “Our audience also loves experiences. So we've done shows everywhere from Descanso Gardens to the top of Forest Lawn Glendale, [which] is one of our favorite places, to a warehouse downtown. We do traditional nice theaters, every once in a while, [but] we don’t have a dedicated space.” 

He adds, “You can't match this feeling of a person just singing through you with an operatic voice. It's almost superhuman. So many people never experience unamplified singing until they come to an opera. And that is what really deep down gets people coming back.” 

POP also works with the LA Unified School District by bringing opera education into the classroom. 

“Right now she's in seven schools teaching about ‘The Magic Flute,’ which is really easy for this one, because it's very relatable with all the characters that are still super famous.” 

The curriculum is in line with POP’s next production, “Superflute,” which is a retelling of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” with classic Nintendo characters. It will be held at the El Portal theater in North Hollywood. 

“‘The Magic Flute’ is a quest and it really is like a video game where you beat this level, then you go to the next level. … There's the trials of fire and water. And it was just a crazy idea that me and Scott Levine had, and it really has worked better than I could ever dream.”



  • Josh Shaw - founding artistic director of Pacific Opera Project