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LA Opera's approach to a centuries-old art form
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Hollywood does opera: LA Opera's approach to a centuries-old art form

Fortune speaks with LA Opera CEO Christopher Koelsch about the opera company’s relative youth, how it works with Hollywood, and the advice he would give to his younger self.

To many, Los Angeles conjures visions of movie studio lots, real, aspiring, and poseur celebrities, and sun-baked, congested roads. What doesn’t come to mind? Opera, or classical performance art of any kind. After all, LA is the land of pop. But the city of angels has its very own hometown opera company. LA Opera launched its 29th season in September. By opera standards, the company is quite young. (The Met in New York was founded in 1880 and put on its first official season in 1883.) But with an annual budget that exceeds $40 million and opera great Placido Domingo as its general director, don’t be fooled by its relative youth; LA Opera is a force to be reckoned with. Fortune spoke with Christopher Koelsch, 42, LA Opera’s president and CEO, about the strengths and liabilities of the company’s youth, how the organization made its way through the financial crisis, and the advice he would give to his younger self. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.


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