Malibu Seen: Magic in the Aria

Jonathan Michie plays Papageno in “The Magic Flute.”

Malibu resident and Los Angeles Opera Chairman of the Board Marc Stern kicked off the new season with a glorious start. To celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary, they’ve been putting on a critically acclaimed revival of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” 

The production caused quite a stir when it debuted in 2013 and was a complete sell out for its entire run. 

Conducted by James Conlon, it’s a dazzling tale of “love conquers all.” 

You didn’t get the same old stuff from this version of “The Magic Flute,” which made it one of the hottest tickets in town. It transported opera lovers into a unique, fantasy world by creating the impression that huge comic strip collages have come to life before their eyes. 

The singers were positioned in front of an enormous screen and interacted in real time with hand drawn animation projected all around them. It transformed one of the world’s most popular operas into an experience unlike any version you’d ever seen before. 

In addition to James Conlon, Norwegian soprano Marita Sølberg made her company debut as Pamina, with tenor Ben Bliss as Tamino. Baritone Jonathan Michie returned as the lovable bird catcher Papageno, with German bass Wilhelm Schwinghammer also making his company debut as wise Sarastro.

The cast also featured three current members of LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program with So Young Park as the Queen of the Night, tenor Brenton Ryan as Monostatos and soprano Vanessa Becerra as Papagena. Greek soprano Christina Poulitsi made her company debut as the Queen of the Night. The production even earned glowing reviews from some tough critics. 

But there’s more to come: Up next, it’s Puccini’s beloved “Madame Butterfly,” which can be seen beginning March 12. The opera continues its anniversary season with a lavish production, featuring soprano Anna Maria Martinez as Clo-Clo San. 

The powerful love story is set in early 20th century Nagasaki and has captivated audiences since it first hit the stage. 

“Madame Butterfly” runs through April 2.


Happy birthday to local model mom Cindy Crawford, who recently turned the big 5-0. To celebrate, she left her comfy Malibu digs with hubby and venue guru Rande Gerber. Just one look and you’ll find that Cindy hasn’t changed since her supermodel days, strutting the catwalks in Paris, Milan and New York for the biggest names in fashion. 

So cheers! Here’s to timeless beauty.