Pacific Opera Project to Present ‘I Can’t Breathe’

By Francisco Salazar

Pacific Opera Project in California is set to present the west coast premiere of “I Can’t Breathe,” a new opera by Leslie Burrs with libretto by Brandon J. Gibson.

The work will be presented at El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood on May 13, 14, and 15, 2022. Artistic Director Joshua Shaw will direct the production with Joshua Foy conducting.

The opera was inspired by and written in the wake of repeated instances of fatal police brutality perpetrated against African Americans and tells the stories of six individuals from different walks of life as a series of six separate monodramas to tell each character’s story. The work is a co-production between Marble City Opera, Cleveland Opera Theater, and Opera Columbus. It is set for its world premiere in February 2022 at Marble City Opera.

In a press release, Artistic Director Josh Shaw said, “POP is of course known for our comedies and our emphasis on entertainment, but producing new and meaningful opera is also part of what we do, and something we can do well. When I was approached with this project, it seemed far too relevant and too important to postpone to a future season. We attempt to reach all of LA with POP’s brand of approachable opera, and that includes new works like these that are vital to the broadening and continuation of the art form.”