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Susi Q’s new partnership with Lyric Opera OC offers rare close-up opera performances

Susi Q and Lyric Opera OC are teaming up to offer a series of free programs on opera, beginning with a look at the history of the art and culminating in several – exceedingly rare – opportunities to sit in close proximity to talented pianists as well as opera singers in full throat.

“The first session, Opera 101, will take participants on an educational and entertaining trip through 900 years of music in 90 minutes,” said Jo Ann Ekblad, Susi Q’s director of Programs and Communications. “Our current plans include performances from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro or Cosi fan Tutte in the fall; La Boheme or another well-known Puccini title in the winter and a Verdi opera in June 2024, possibly Falstaff. We are beyond excited about this partnership and to be able to offer such a wonderful series free of charge!”

susi q ballerina

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Photos by Madi Nguyen for LOOC

Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” 2022 with Michael Segura and Caroline Nelms

The first in the series, Opera 101, will take place on Tuesday, July 25 at the Susi Q Center, 380 Third St., between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Artistic Director & President of Lyric Opera OC, Diana Farrell waxes lyrical (of course!) about the upcoming programs at the Susi Q.

“Susi Q has a long-standing reputation for community engagement with the arts, and I know that their audiences will be receptive and supportive of our singers. More so, I hope they are blown away by our intimate performances,” Farrell said.

“It’s not every day that audiences get the chance to be that close to somebody using their body to produce such a powerful acoustic sound...never mind have it be beautiful. You can really feel the music and because the human voice is such a familiar instrument it can be visceral in the best way.”

susi q bride

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Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette,” 2023 features (L-R): Camila Lima, Aaron Ball, Steve Pence and Elijah Cineas

Farrell believes that there is something for everyone in opera, no matter what one’s passion is, be it instrumental music, classical voice, or theater.

“As a singer myself, I think my favorite part is that every character is someone we can really identify with, [who] can express themselves in such honest ways. Even when we hear the words they’re saying, the music tells us so much more about their situation and communicates to us in an all-encompassing way.

“Opera also offers a multitude of opportunities for cross-cultural understanding since it is performed in so many different languages and tells stories universal to the human condition which everyone can relate to.”

Executive Director of Laguna Beach Seniors Nadia Babayi is a long-time fan of opera and was instrumental a few years back in bringing the successful La Traviata Project to the Susi Q.

“Joyful parts of life, romance and more are all celebrated in opera,” Babayi said. “We are very excited about our partnership with the Lyric Opera OC. This is the perfect – and free – program for people of all ages to discover why this form of entertainment has proven so enduring.”

Susi Q group tiff

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Jake Heggie’s “Two Remain,” 2023 features Diana Farrell, Emily Weinberg, Melissa Davis and Jessica Mamey

Diana Farrell has garnered attention for her insightful work as a stage director and vocal coach. She is the founder and artistic director of Lyric Opera of Orange County, which was named Emerging Arts Organization of the Year for 2022 by Arts OC. Farrell was named a Woman Leader in OC for the Arts by OC Supervisor Foley in 2022.

Lyric Opera of Orange County’s mission is to engage with a modern and diverse audience by offering meaningful musical experiences that honor the operatic repertoire, feature artistic excellence, and present timely showcases of a traditional art form.

To learn more about Lyric Opera OC, visit their website at

Register online for Opera 101 here. To RSVP by phone, call 949.715.8105, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Susi Q offers a wide range of educational and fun programs, classes and clubs for older adults – though all ages are welcome. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors, enabling them to stay safe, informed and independent. For more information on The Susi Q, the portal to access the best of Laguna’s community resources, visit


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