Something Sweet . . .

A West Edge Opera Holiday Concert at the Piedmont Center for the Arts

Friday, February 14 at 7:30pm

Celebrating romantic music from opera and the musical stage, sung by opera couples!

Treat yourself (and your Valentine) to Something Sweet, our Valentine's Day concert at the Piedmont Center for the Arts. Six outstanding singers, three couples in real life, present an elegant and romantic program with a few surprises — this is West Edge, after all.

The program includes these treasures:

"Seguedille" (Carmen)
"If Ever I Would Leave You" (Camelot)
"La ci darem la mano" (Don Giovanni)
"Some Enchanted Evening" (South Pacific)
"A Little Bit in Love" (Wonderful Town)
"My Funny Valentine" (Babes in Arms)
"Rêve" (Manon)

...and much more! From Bizet to Bernstein, Mozart and Massenet to Rodgers and Hammerstein and Hart, this is a concert you won't want to miss. (You can download the full concert program here [pdf].)

We know you'll love these pairs:
  • Buffy Baggott and Pedro Rodelas
  • Adam Flowers and Nicole Takesono
  • Dan Kempson and Zachary Altman

Accompanied by Robert Mollicone, Adler Fellow, San Francisco Opera.

West Edge Opera thanks Anne Brandon and Rick Richetta of Alain Pinel Realtors for their generous sponsorship of this concert.

Please join us for an elegant and festive Valentine's Day concert, followed by wine and chocolates (included). $25 adult, $15 youth


The Piedmont Center for the Arts is located at 801 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont.

The Artists


California native Buffy Baggott has gained recognition throughout the United States as an accomplished and highly versatile lyric mezzo soprano. She studied vocal performance at UCLA and San Francisco State Universities, went on to complete two apprenticeships with the Santa Fe Opera and is an alumnus of the prestigious Lyric Opera Center for American Artists, now known as the Ryan Opera Center. Buffy has been hailed as "a phenomenon of vocal and dramatic intensity" by the San Francisco Chronicle, and her voice and performances have been described as "sizzling… voluptuous, powerful, teasing, and extremely dangerous."

Last fall she sang the role of Meg Page in Opera San Jose's production of Verdi's Falstaff, and for West Edge Opera, Buffy has recently starred in The Turn of the Screw and The Carmen Fixation. In the last few years she has also performed important roles with the San Francisco Opera, Sacramento Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Lyric Opera Chicago. Buffy lives in El Cerrito with her beau Pedro Rodelas. For more about Buffy and her illustrious opera career, see


Pedro Rodelas is a graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio and has performed with opera companies, orchestras, and ensembles throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America. Pedro sings regularly with the San Francisco Opera. Other operatic stage credits include primo tenore roles in La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, La Fanciulla del West, Faust, Gianni Schicchi, The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus, I Pagliacci, The Magic Flute, Il Tabarro, Macbeth, The Bartered Bride, The Secret Marriage, and Amelia Goes to the Ball. Pedro has also been featured in concert performances of Mozart's Requiem, Handel's Messiah, and numerous opera galas and benefits.

In addition to his operatic repertoire, Mr. Rodelas enjoys performing music of Latin America, including zarzuela, mariachi, and tango. In 2000, he was honored with the Disco de Oro at the Festival de la Canción National Competition in San Francisco where he received the first place award for his performance of "Granada" by Agustin Lara. Pedro has also appeared in concert performances of Enrique Granados' Goyescas and Moreno Torroba's Luisa Fernanda with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC.

2013 marked Pedro's seventh year as Chef Pierre in The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite and member of the Andrea Fulton Chorale. Pedro, an accomplished chef himself, also performs regularly as a member of The Three Waiters, an internationally acclaimed entertainment group with headquarters in Sydney, London, and New York City. He has been a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus for three years..

Pedro is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and currently resides in Berkeley, CA. He holds a Master of Vocal Performance degree from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Read more about Pedro at


Adam Flowers spent five years as Artist in Residence for Opera San Jose, performing over 32 roles including Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème, Don Ottavio in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Nemorino in L'Elisir D'Amore, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Faust in Faust, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Chevalier des Grieux in Manon, Fenton in Falstaff, Gustavo III in Verdi's Un Ballo in maschera, Judge Danforth in Ward's The Crucible, Erik in The Flying Dutchman, Don Jose in Carmen, Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus, and Manrico in Il Trovatore. More recently, among his many roles in companies both at home and abroad are Cavaradossi in Tosca, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Hoffmann in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Read more about Adam at

Adam married Nicole Takesono (see more about Nicole below) in 2004.

". . . an accomplished singer who can float up to falsetto range or punch notes with power." —Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News

". . . a sensitive, clear-voiced singer who brought endearing qualities to this taxing role . . . passionate and nicely nuanced." —Kip Cranna, San Francisco Classical Voice

"The Oscar has to go to Adam Flowers for his portrayal of the ardent, soon rejected lover, Don José. . . in watching Flowers on opening night, one was reminded of the glory days when Franco Corelli tore up the scenery." —Perrisimo Abbas, Piedmont Post


Mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono has been praised for her sweet, warm voice and dedication to character. Ms. Takesono has performed with San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose, West Edge Opera, Festival Opera, West Bay Opera, among others. Roles performed include Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Dido in Dido and Æneas, The Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Second Lady in The Magic Flute, Second Shining One and Madam Wanton in A Pilgrim's Progress, Mercedes in Carmen, Flora and Annina in La Traviata, Siébel in Faust, and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel. Ms. Takesono sings with the San Francisco Opera Chorus.


American baritone Dan Kempson is becoming increasingly sought-after in repertoire ranging from Handel to Phillip Glass. In the fall of 2013 he joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera for its US Premiere of Nico Muhly's Two Boys. Still in the early years of his career, Mr. Kempson has already performed with Santa Fe Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Fort Worth Opera, Syracuse Opera, Shreveport Opera, and Opera Saratoga, in addition to the Pittsburgh Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, and Yale Symphony Orchestra. He has sung in a number of World Premiere and American premiere productions, and appears singing leading roles on opera recordings on both Albany Records and the NAXOS label. Read more about Dan at

"An absolutely thrilling baritone." —Fort Worth Examiner

"Dan Kempson's gorgeous baritone was a standout, and Abercrombie & Fitch looks won't hurt his career." —Opera Magazine (UK)

"A singer whose onstage presence was matched by a fluid and handsomely burnished tone." —Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle


Baritone Zachary Altman, praised for his "suave, sable baritone" (Opera Magazine), returns to Opera San Jose in the 2013-14 season, singing Ford (Falstaff), Sharpless (Madame Butterfly), and the title role in Don Giovanni. He also returns to Gotham Chamber Opera for its production of Baden Baden 1927. During the 2012-13 season, Zach was seen at Opera San Jose as Zurga (The Pearl Fishers), Count Di Luna (Il Trovatore), Dr. Falke (Die Fledermaus), and the title role in Gianni Schicchi. He appeared at Le Poisson Rouge with Gotham Chamber Opera in a collaboration with MAYA and Company XIV called Orientale. In it, he will sing Tancredi in Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, as well as songs of Schumann. In the summer of 2013, Mr. Altman sang with the Caramoor Festival as Vaudemont in Verdi's Les Vêpres Siciliennes, while also covering Rodrigue in Verdi's Don Carlos.

He recently made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut at the Hollywood Bowl as Herman Augustus and Second Inquisitor in Bernstein's Candide. He spent three years as a fellow at the Music Academy of the West, where he sang the title role in Don Giovanni, Dr. Miracle in The Tales of Hoffmann, and Breedley in Bolcom's A Wedding.

He has also been a young artist with both Fort Worth Opera and Sarasota Opera, and received awards from the Marilyn Horne Foundation and the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions. Read more about Zachary at

"Altman's phrasing and finesse were notable ..." —Opera News

"Zachary Altman sang with burnished, gale-force glee." —San Jose Mercury News

"Vocally I would award palms to Zach Altman's suave, sable baritone." —Opera Magazine


Buffy & Pedro
Nicole & Adam

Zach & Dan

Headlines From West Edge

Opera Today

> Opera Theater Around San Francisco

The theatrical dimension was very present in Berkeley. Vanessa was about aging soprano Marie Plette and her shallow young tenor lover Anatol, Jonathan Boyd. Innocent if weird young Erika, San Francisco Conservatory graduate soprano Nikola Printz simply wanted real love whatever that is, and dumbly wise bass Phillip Skinner was the Doctor who even knew how vapid he was. Not to forget the grand­motherly Baroness, Malin Fritz who sang very little but looked very stern. Very believable characters indeed, who were also quite real singers and very good artists. Even the staging was their own (there was no stage director), and seemed completely true to character — how could it have been otherwise.

...The chamber format imposed by the small theater responded to the wit and fun that permeates Barber’s music, and revealed his brilliance as a composer of mid-century complexities—like the splendid quintet that winds up Vanessa.

San Jose Mercury News

> West Edge Opera brings Paul Gauguin to life on stage

Anders Froehlich, Shawnette Sulker
If Richard Wagner were able to take a peek into our 21st-century world of opera, he likely would take particular interest in the goings on at West Edge Opera. Wagner, the great 19th-century composer of such iconic works as "Der Ring des Nibelungen," may have been the one who coined the long German word "Gesamtkunstwerk," which he used to describe his ideas regarding ideal opera.

...So, when one considers the opera's subject, post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin's iconoclastic career as it ranged from Brittany and France to Tahiti in the South Seas, you come up with a striking example that would please old Wagner.

San Francisco Classical Voice

> Christine Brandes: Singing While Rome Burns

Christine Brandes
...She's the kind of person who looks on her career and success and says, simply, "I've had the sort of happy luck of opportunities presenting themselves when I was ready to take them up." Bay Area audiences have been grateful for her much-lauded performances with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and other ensembles, and can count themselves lucky to look forward to her upcoming interpretation of the emperor Nero in West Edge Opera's production of Monteverdi's Poppea, which runs at El Cerrito High School's Performing Arts Theater Feb. 1-2 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. Of director Mark Streshinsky's take on the piece, she says, "It is very interesting. It's 1962 before the Cuban Missile crisis, and Ottavia is Jackie Kennedy, Nero is Jack Kennedy, and Poppea is Marilyn Monroe. So, what would have happened if he, mid-administration, had dumped Jackie and picked up with Marilyn Monroe?!"

> West Edge Monteverdi, Title Changes, NEA Grant

West Edge Opera's upcoming production of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea is recommended for a $12,500 National Endowment for the Arts grant. The award is one of 832 grants totaling $23.3 million in funding nationwide, announced by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman...

Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky has been named General Director. He and MusicSources Artistic Director Gilbert Martinez are creating a reduced performance version of the 1642 L'incoronazione di Poppea, based on an orchestral edition by early-music scholar Alan Curtis. Streshinsky is stage director, Martinez will conduct a Baroque ensemble from the harpsichord.

San Francisco Chronicle

> 2013 Bay Area classical music preview

Joshua Kosman (selecting 12 productions of interest in the next four months):

"L'incoronazione di Poppea" (Feb. 1-3, El Cerrito High School) West Edge Opera inaugurates its season with Monteverdi's 1642 operatic masterpiece of love and treachery in ancient Rome, with Christine Brandes as Nero and Emma McNairy as Poppea.

"Bonjour, M. Gauguin" (April 6-14, El Cerrito High School) Fabrizio Carlone's opera about the painter's life gets its American premiere from the West Edge Opera and Kunst-Stoff, in a production featuring Shawnette Sulker as Gauguin's inner voice.

Repeat Performances

> Bay Area Opera-opening the season

West Edge Opera, formerly the Berkeley Opera, has had two successful seasons in its digs at the new El Cerrito Performing Arts Center... They have not only rein­vented themselves, but grown into a new creative identity.  Last year’s “Popera” season was a smashing success, and they continue their focus on artistic accessibility with a new season that stretches from baroque classic to American premiere.

Chronicling a journey from mistress to empress, Monteverdi’s L’Incoranazione di Poppea was steamy in 1642 and still surprising today, as well as a good fit for chamber orchestra. Artistic Direc­tor Mark Streshinsky is certain to add flair to the careful period sensibility of conductor and harpsichordist Gilbert Martinez of MusicSources, and it will be sung with an accomplished cast that includes renowned Christine Brandes as Nero (yes, that Nero!) and coloratura soprano Emma McNairy as Poppea (stealing the show last year in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos). Performances will be held Fri Feb 1 and Sat Feb 2 at 8:00 p.m. and Sun Feb 3 at 3:00 p.m.

In April Fabrizio Carlone’s Bonjour M. Gauguin immerses us in the world of French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin, with text derived from his own writings and dance collaboration by the Kunst-Stoff Contemporary Dance Company, all set amidst a video backdrop of the artist’s arresting neo-primitivism. They end their season in July with Benjamin Britten’s gorgeous and chilling The Turn of the Screw.

fluteSan Francisco Classical Voice

> Sin City at West Edge Opera

West Edge's program in late July and early August features two fantasies—one about an unreal city but with real experiences, the other about a real city with unreal experiences.

...Perhaps it's not what most people would think of for an opera company, but rest assured, there's still a strong operatic basis in its next unusual offering.

Mercury News

> West Edge Opera mounts a double bill...

Today's world would be barely recognizable to people living in past centuries. But although there have indeed been dramatic changes in the world itself, its human inhabitants seem to have changed very little...

This contention will be explored later this month when West Edge Opera presents City of Sin, a double bill of one-act operas telling the tales of two cities. Although each city exists in a different era and locale, the human characters in each could be interchangeable. The first, Mahagonny Songspiel, was completed in Germany in 1927, and the second, Vera of Las Vegas, in the United States in 2003.

> Theatre Bay Area Editor's Picks: City of Sin: Mahagonny Songspiel / Vera of Las Vegas

...This production dresses up the "Songspiel's" ferocious social satire in luxe 1920s cabaret and jazz style, pairing it with another one-act, "Vera of Las Vegas," which features a pop-music mashup score reorchestrated for the slinky house cabaret band. Don't even try to tell me you don't want to hear that...

fluteSan Francisco Classical Voice

> West Edge's Marley/Manga Flute

"No matter how many productions you might have seen of Mozart's Magic Flute, almost certainly none was like what West Edge Opera is serving up March 4-11. It's the famously "different" David Scott Marley's new English adaptation in Japanese manga (comics/cartoons) style..."

> The Magic in That Flute

"...'It's my fantasia on a theme by Mozart,' Marley said. 'In my adaptations, what I'm concerned with is to bring out the qualities in a work that've been neglected by translating them to modern-day equivalents.' To that end, Marley turned to Manga, the Japanese comic book and animated film style."

finkSan Francisco Chronicle

> Richard Paul Fink to debut as Wotan in Berkeley

"Doesn't matter how good you are at something, nobody appreciates being pigeonholed. Baritone Richard Paul Fink, one of today's leading interpreters of Wagnerian villains, will confirm the point..."

San Francisco Chroniclejonathan

> Prompter helps singers get back in the groove

"When a baritone goes "cold" and forgets a line, Jonathan Khuner is there. When a soprano gets lost in her character and sings ahead of the beat, Khuner reins her in. He's the prompter at the San Francisco Opera, "the first line of defense," he says, against a singer's potential humiliation..."

ectheaterEl Cerrito Patch

> Berkeley Opera's Move to El Cerrito High Worked Wonders

"El Cerrito wasn't the first place that sprang to mind when the Berkeley Opera learned in 2009 that it had to find a new venue..."

Call for Vocalists

West Edge Opera is inaugurating its new series, Opera Medium-Rare (but well done!), with three special concert productions this winter/spring season. We are seeking enthusiastic and qualified young singers who would be interested in the musical and performance experience singing works by Rossini, Donizetti, and Verdi:

Sunday, January 19, 3pm
Rossini's Elisabetta, regina d'Inghilterra

Sunday, March 30, 3pm
Donizetti's Caterina Cornaro

Sunday, May 4, 3pm
Verdi's Aroldo

Each of these is a relatively unknown, but dramatically solid work, full of wonderful vocal writing and vivid theatricality. Our presentations will be with piano accompaniment and musical direction by our music director Jonathan Khuner, with several (evening-&-weekend) rehearsals to arrive at a fully professional performance level. The performances will be on-book, without staging or costumes, in Italian, and the audience will have enhanced supertitles to help them imagine the action. Tickets for these concerts will be very affordable with a fund-raising element in order to offset the low price.

We want to give exposure to new talent that we can then consider for future fully-staged productions. The project is ideal for young artists who want professional-level role experience in this repertoire, and love exploring beautiful operatic literature.

All the performances will be at 3:00 pm, at the Northbrae Church sanctuary in Berkeley.

Interested singers should submit name and resume, detailing your particular role interest, to Jonathan Khuner at

Please do not submit MP3 or any other sound samples unless requested.

If we select you for further consideration, we will send pdf excerpts (mostly arias) from the roles, and arrange for an audition in Berkeley.

We may be recruiting chorus members individually, apart from our soloist recruitment. If you are interested in this way of participating, please submit a separate note to that effect, with your resume.

Here are the roles being cast. Note that the Rossini roles display a great deal of typical bel canto virtuosic athleticism, the Donizetti roles a medium amount of same, and that the Verdi is middle-period writing which demands strong lyric lines.

Rossini: Elisabetta - soprano
Matilda - soprano or mezzo-soprano
Enrico - mezzo-soprano or contralto (pants role)
Norfolk - tenor
Leicester - tenor
Guglielmo - tenor (supporting role)

Donizetti:   Caterina - soprano
Matilde - soprano (short role)
Gerardo - tenor
Strozzi - tenor (minor role)
Un Cavaliere - (brief role)
Lusignano - baritone
Mocenigo - bass-baritone
Andrea - bass (supporting role)

Verdi: Mina - soprano
Elena - mezzo-soprano (short role)
Aroldo - tenor
Godvino - tenor
Enrico - tenor (short role)
Egberto - baritone
Briano - bass (supporting role)

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