Discovering Debussy

Curated and Directed by LA Opera Music Director James Conlon

Join us for a city-wide celebration of Claude Debussy’s evocative and ethereal music. Throughout March and April, arts organizations across Los Angeles will present programs that illuminate the many facets of one of the 20th century’s most influential composers.

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The Colburn School
LA Opera
The Hammer Museum
The Opera League of Los Angeles
The Ebell of Los Angeles
Norton Simon Museum


The Colburn Debussy Experience

Colburn All-Access Pass

Deepen your Discovering Debussy experience with the Colburn All-Access Pass. In addition to tickets for all three events, pass holders receive special bonuses, including prime seating near fellow Debussy lovers, meet-and-greet opportunities with the artists, a commemorative all-access badge, a discount at the Colburn Café, and more!

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Discovering Debussy: Music and Dance

Join us for an exploration of Debussy’s rich and imaginative works, including Syrinx for solo flute and Six épigraphes antiques for piano duo, with dancers from Colburn’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute performing choreography by Jerome Robbins. Maestro James Conlon, LA Opera Music Director and curator of the Discovering Debussy series, will provide musical and historical context throughout the performance.

Wednesday, March 1 at 7 pm
Zipper Hall
Tickets: $30

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DEBUSSY Six épigraphes antiques for Piano, Four-Hands; choreography by Jerome Robbins
DEBUSSY Syrinx for Flute
DEBUSSY Chansons de Bilitis, ft. Sarah Saturnino, mezzo-soprano from the LA Opera Young Artist Program
DEBUSSY Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp
DEBUSSY Preludes for Piano, Books I & II

Discovering Debussy: Chamber Works

Enjoy a program of Debussy’s colorful chamber works, including Danse sacrée et profane for String Quintet and Harp, conducted by Maestro James Conlon, and Debussy’s string quartet, performed by Colburn’s award-winning quartet in residence, Quartet Integra. Maestro James Conlon, LA Opera Music Director and curator of the Discovering Debussy series, will provide musical and historical context throughout the performance.

Friday, March 3 at 7 pm
Zipper Hall
Tickets: $30

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Discovering Debussy: Reflections on Debussy

A Conversation with Maestro James Conlon and Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Join us for an intimate conversation about Debussy with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Maestro James Conlon, LA Opera Music Director and curator of the Discovering Debussy series. The evening also features a performance of Debussy’s Cello Sonata, played by Colburn faculty member Clive Greensmith

All-Access Pass holders will enjoy a meet and greet with the artists following the event.

Wednesday, March 8 at 7 pm
Thayer Hall
Tickets: $30

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For All-Access Pass Holders Only

An Exploration of French Ballet with Olivier Pardina

Olivier Pardina is an internationally renowned guest teacher, coach, and adjudicator for ballet schools, companies, and competitions. He is Former Artistic Director and Principal Instructor at the Nice Opera Ballet School and has danced and toured the world with major French ballet companies.

Inspired by Discovering Debussy’s exploration of French music, Pardina explores French Ballet with students from the Dance Academy. Colburn All-Access pass holders get exclusive access to this special session with a master artist, followed by a moderated conversation.

2-3 pm: Exploration of French Ballet Combinations

Olivier will lead a session with our Colburn Dance Academy where he will teach them combinations of steps that are emblematic of the French school of ballet. In this, he will draw on his own vast experience working with artists of the Paris Opéra Ballet.

3-4 pm: Conversation with Olivier Pardina

Dr. Jill Nunes Jensen, Colburn’s Artistic Inquiry teacher, will moderate a discussion with Olivier and the students about his career and teaching philosophy.

Tuesday, March 7
Grand Rehearsal Hall
Pass Price: $200

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All proceeds benefit the Colburn School, and ticket costs are tax-deductible as allowed by law, less $60 per attendee.

Additional Discovering Debussy Events


LA Opera

Opera for Educators: Pelléas and Mélisande

Featuring a special appearance by LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director James Conlon on March 4, Opera for Educators includes presentations from experts in music, history, languages, and—of course—opera. Open to educators and the public.

Saturday, March 4 at 9 am
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA
$20, in-person or Zoom

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Pelléas and Mélisande

David McVicar’s production of Pelléas et Mélisande marks the opera’s first time onstage at LA Opera in over 25 years. Debussy’s sensual, exquisitely nuanced score casts a hypnotic spell, capturing an enigmatic dream world. Conducted by James Conlon, this fascinating lyric masterpiece stars two riveting young performers, soprano Sydney Mancasola and baritone Will Liverman, as the doomed lovers, and Kyle Ketelsen as the jealous prince. The magnificent Susan Graham makes her role debut as Geneviève, mother of the two rival brothers, and the legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto returns as King Arkel, the family patriarch unable to grasp the tragedy unfolding before him.

James Conlon conducts all performances. One hour before each performance, join him for a pre-show talk about Pelléas et Mélisande in Stern Grand Hall, on the second floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Admission is complimentary with your ticket.

March 25-April 16
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA

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The Hammer Museum

James Conlon on Debussy

James Conlon, world-renowned conductor and music director of the Los Angeles Opera, shares his passion for the legacy of French composer Claude Debussy in conjunction with the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Debussy’s landmark work Pelléas et Mélisande.

Sunday, March 5 at 3 pm
The Hammer Museum, Westwood
Free, seats assigned on a first come, first served basis starting one hour before the event

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The Opera League of Los Angeles

Opera League Seminar: Maestro Conlon on Pelléas et Mélisande

Beginning March 25, James Conlon conducts six performances of the achingly beautiful Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy’s only completed opera. David McVicar’s production marks the opera’s first time onstage at LA Opera for over 25 years. Maestro Conlon says, “It is one of the five or six greatest works in any musical repertoire. When you are caught in its spell no other music exists.”

Join the Opera League on Tuesday, March 7 and learn about this opera’s hypnotic spell with Maestro Conlon. He will share his analysis of this sensual, exquisitely nuanced score and its enigmatic dream world where forbidden love blossoms. The magic begins at 6 pm with a reception and light refreshments, and at 7 pm Maestro Conlon will lead us on a journey into this magical work.  

Tuesday, March 7 at 7 pm, reception at 6 pm
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA
$35 for non-members; $25 for Opera League Members

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The Ebell of Los Angeles

Impressions of Pelléas

Based on an enchanting story about a love triangle and an elusive woman found in the forest, Impressions de Pelléas is an abbreviated version of Debussy’s original five-act opera, Pelléas and Mélisande, reimagined on a chamber scale for two pianists and five singers. Under the baton of world-renowned conductor and music director at LA Opera, James Conlon, and performed by artists from LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program and the Colburn School, the story flows seamlessly across 100 minutes of ethereal music. Conceived as an intimate performance experience, Impressions of Pelléas is presented in a beautiful salon setting in the historic lounge at The Ebell of Los Angeles.

Approximately one hour prior to the start of the performance, James Conlon, whose pre-performance lectures have become events almost as highly anticipated as his musical presentations, will present a deep dive into the French composer Claude Debussy and explore his only opera.

Artists from LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program
Deepa Johnny, Melisandre
Madeleine Lyon, Genevieve
Anthony Leon, Pelleas
Ryan Wolfe, Golaud
Alan Williams, Arkel

Pianists from the Studio of Fabio Bidini at The Colburn School
HyeJin Park
Yanfeng Tony Bai
Vijay Venkatesh
Ryota Yamazaki

Tuesday, April 4 at 7:30 pm, pre-concert lecture 6:30 pm 
The Lounge at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 741 South Lucerne Blvd
$15 (free for students)

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Norton Simon Museum

Claude Debussy: Refracting his Music through Art

The Norton Simon Museum is pleased to collaborate with LA Opera on an audio tour exploring the artistic legacy of Claude Debussy and his relationship to the visual artists of his time, including Claude Monet, Édouard Vuillard, and many others. Maestro Conlon narrates the tour and pairs selections from Debussy’s oeuvre with paintings in the Museum’s 19th-century galleries. Available in March, the audio tour can be streamed in the Norton Simon Museum galleries using your smartphone, or enjoyed at home as an audio slideshow on the Museum’s website.