Pacific Opera Project Deftly Lands the Catch of the Season at Descanso Gardens

Water nymph soprano? Check. Huge set? Check. Defies expectations? Check.

1 min read
A person holding a flower
Photo: Phil Hopkins

Pacific Opera Project’s Josh Shaw identified two of the three pillars of POP’s success when he described what was required to construct the multi-level waterfall set for Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka in his Lincoln Heights back yard: stubbornness and insanity.

A group of people standing in a garden
Photo: Pacific Opera Project

Based upon the results displayed during the opera’s Los Angeles premiere at Descanso Gardens, Shaw, the company’s Artistic Director, neglected to mention the other key ingredient that has allowed POP to grow into a nationally respected opera innovator.


And with talent, not to mention stubbornness and insanity, Pacific Opera Project has found a way to make the rarely performed Dvořák work, based upon much of the same source material used by Hans Christian Anderson for The Little Mermaid, accessible and easily relatable.

But this is opera, not a Burbank-based studio’s conceptualization of the fairy tale. So expect the unexpected in the final act.

The opera is sung in English, with a new translation by Josh Shaw and Grant Preisser. Josh Shaw directs and Alexandra Enyart conducts. Lyric soprano Rachel Blaustein is in the title role.


Performances, held outdoors, are Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July 12-14) and Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July 19-21). All shows start at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25-$55 ($20-$50 for Descanso members) and available through the Descanso Gardens Web site. Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011.

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Phil Hopkins

Phil is the Associate Publisher of Local News Pasadena. He is a 35-year resident of the city and his favorite local delicacy is the Combo Grinder at Connal's.
Email: [email protected]

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