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In The Opera ‘Invisible Cities,’ The Audience Becomes Part Of The Show

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That's no traveler! That man in the hoodie is an opera singer and part of "Invisible Cities." (credit: Claudia Peschiutta/KNX 1070)

That’s no traveler! That man in the hoodie is an opera singer and part of “Invisible Cities.” (credit: Claudia Peschiutta/KNX 1070)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For the next three weeks, Union Station will be more than just a transportation hub.

As KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports, it will also be the stage for a unique opera in which the performers can easily be confused for passengers.

Sitting on a bench in a courtyard at Union Station, wearing a hoodie and carrying a backpack, one man looks like any other traveler just waiting for a train. But looks are deceiving.

The traveler is actually one of the performers of ” Invisible Cities,” an opera based on the novel by Italo Calvino.

The paying audience hears the orchestra and the singers through wireless headphones. There are no sets.

The audience has to walk around to see the show. The performers, in turn, blend in with the typical goings-on at the station.

The scenes play out in different parts of the station — confusing, surprising and delighting passengers. Peschiutta encountered several passengers who were a bit of all three.

Talking on her cellphone while waiting for a train to Oceanside, one woman tells a friend about the opera going on around her.

“Can you hear this?,” she says to her friend.

“All of a sudden these beautiful people started performing. I thought I was in a movie! I did,” the woman told Peschiutta.

“It really is a dynamic experience for everyone involved,” said David Mack, general manager of the Industry, the LA-based opera company that is co-producing the show with the LA Dance Project.

The performers blend in really well. Maybe even too well.

Peschiutta mistook one man for a passenger.  She even explained the concept of the show to him. “Then I lent him my headphones. Only later did I realize he was one of the dancers!”

“I think art belongs at the center of life. The message of the novel is summarized beautifully in the line ‘It is not the voice that commands the story it is the ear.’  It’s not about the speaker’s experience, it’s about the audience listening and interpreting, no two people will take the same meaning away from this experience, and I think that’s what’s really beautiful about it,” said Yuval Sharon, the director behind “Invisible Cities.”

Performances of “Invisible Cities” continue at Union Station through November 8.

For more information about “Invisible Cities,” click here.

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