Looking back on the 2014 Summer Festival

From the Press

August 11, 2014
'La Bohème' review:
West Edge Opera innovates in meager space

By Joshua Kosman

Like the impoverished but resourceful young esthetes in "La Bohème," the folks at West Edge Opera have turned the company's precarious finances into a golden artistic opportunity. The compact 2014 season — a tight little three-opera festival that concluded Sunday afternoon with a beautiful and magnificently inventive production of Puccini's opera — demonstrated how far a combination of determination and imagination will take you.

...This mini-festival, which also included Philip Glass' incantatory "Hydrogen Jukebox" to texts by Allen Ginsberg and Jake Heggie's Graham Greene adaptation "The End of the Affair," has been a small miracle of theatrical inventiveness and musical splendor. The pro­ductions, two of them staged by Streshinsky, have made ingenious use of what would seem to be a barren space, and the vocal and instrumental performances have served as a reminder of how ambitious a small company can and should be.


August 8, 2014
Apocalypse Wow: Hydrogen Jukebox at West Edge Opera
By Jessica Balik

Can the idea of an impending apocalypse somehow alleviate human suffering? The visionary American poet Allen Ginsberg has suggested such a possibility underlies Hydrogen Jukebox (1990), a chamber opera or “melodrama“ that Ginsberg created with the composer Philip Glass. On Friday evening at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, the West Edge Opera courageously performed this dizzying and dumbfounding piece.


August 5, 2014
Impressive Results for West Edge Opera's End of the Affair
By Niels Swinkels

...With her strong lyricism and impressive stage presence, so­prano Carrie Hennessey gave voice — and body — to Sarah’s fears and frustration, her yearning for Maurice, dreams about what could be, and her newfound religious fervor.

Baritone Keith Phares sang the role of Maurice Bendrix in earlier productions of The End of the Affair at the Madison Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. He has honed the vocal and dramatic com­plexities of the part to perfec­tion and the pure indignation with which he vents his anger at God after Sarah’s death was awe-inspiring.

...The directness of the staging and the audience’s proximity to the podium created an operatic ex­perience with an immediacy and intensity that is not all too common.


August 4, 2014
Jake Heggie's 'End of the Affair' gets strong Bay Area debut
By Georgia Rowe

The West Edge production, di­rec­ted by company general director Mark Streshinsky as part of the company's three-show summer series, makes a strong case for the opera. Based on Graham Greene's novel ... the story of an affair pas­sionately begun and mysteriously broken off came to life Sunday afternoon with an assured orchestral performance conducted by Jonathan Khuner and an excellent, fully committed cast.

...Heggie's score is beautiful — characteristically elegant, with enveloping orchestral passages, soaring solo flights and arresting duets, trios, and ensembles. Khuner, West Edge Opera's music director since 1985, drew vibrant playing from his 24-piece orchestra, and the singers poured themselves into the performance.


July 28, 2014
'Hydrogen Jukebox' review: splendid, opera or not
By Joshua Kosman

The question of genre has rarely felt so sublimely beside the point as it did on Sunday afternoon, during the beautiful and unforgettable opening performance of "Hydrogen Jukebox" at West Edge Opera.

...Anyone open to the concerns on display here will find the piece transfixing, especially as delivered by a superb cast under the leadership of conductor David Möschler. The score includes some of Glass's most sensuous melodic writing, as well as choral numbers marked by suave assurance, emotional transparency and wit...


This just in...

> Photos from the Summer Festival.

What’s next?

Our Summer Festival — a hit!

All of us at West Edge are just delighted by the artistic, critical, and public success of our recent Summer Festival. Full reviews are to the left, and here. But here's a summary view we liked:

“...This mini-festival… has been a small miracle of theatrical inven­tiveness and musical splendor.”
   — Kosman, S. F. Chronicle

Now we are planning our upcoming season, shaping up to be even more adventurous!

Opera Medium Rare: double the pleasure

This past spring, our low-cost concert performances of little-known works by well-known composers each delighted full houses. So next spring, we plan to expand our popular “Opera Medium Rare (but well done!) program to two concert performances of each opera, in two locations. We’re looking at these rarely-performed bel canto treasures (program subject to change, of course):

Bellini’s Bianca e Fernando in February

Rossini’s Zelmira in late March

Verdi’s I Due Foscari in early May

Our 2015 main-stage season: another festival

We will stay with the summer-festival format in 2015, with locations yet to be determined. We are looking at lots of exciting alternative-venue options as we continue our search for a future theater home.

We promise it will be another expansion of our — and your — horizons, with new concepts and great music. We’ll likely include a well-known 20th-century masterpiece, a baroque delight, and a Mozart-era piece not written by Amadeus. Stay tuned!

Next up? Our fourth annual Comedy Night.

Please join us on September 13 for an evening of laughter as we pull back the curtain to reveal opera’s rarely seen — and often seamy — comic underbelly. More here.

See you at the opera!


The Big Wine Deal!

Win a fabulous collection of wines just in time for the holidays

The Big Wine Raffle was a tremendous success, and all the tickets have been sold. The drawing will be held at the The 4rd Annual West Edge Opera Comedy Night on September 13. You need not be present to win, but do come and have a good time!



Donate your Car...

...to West Edge Opera! Details here.


West Edge Opera

"Always trying to push the envelope."
   —San Francisco Classical Voice

Pushing the envelope. This is what drives our work. At West Edge Opera we believe there is no limit to where this art form can go. We want to break down the perceptions of opera as exclusive and distant and present the essence of the story. To reveal the emotions that can't be spoken.

"This summer's festival was only further evidence of how essential this brilliant company has become to the local operatic scene."
   —San Francisco Chronicle


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