2 hours 25 minutes including 20 minute intermission
Parental advisory suggested for children 12 and under.
If you know Vicente Martin y Soler at all, chances are good it’s from a tossed off quotation in Don Giovanni, but in their day, both Mozart and Martin y Soler enjoyed equal renown in Vienna. Both set the brilliant words of da Ponte, who rated The Chastity Tree the Spaniard’s best work. A smash hit in 1787, The Chastity Tree is a tale of purity, politics on Mount Olympus, and one unusually judgmental plant. True to fashion, West Edge unearths a hidden gem in a startling new production.
Opera talk begins 45 minutes before curtain.
Music by Vicente Martín y Soler
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
In Italian with English supertitles
Conducted by Robert Mollicone
Directed by Mark Streshinsky
Choreographed by Sarah Berges
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR FREE SHUTTLE RUNNING FROM THE WEST OAKLAND BART STATION TO PACIFIC PIPE BEGINNING TWO HOURS BEFORE CURTAIN. NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED!
The Chastity Tree photos by Cory Weaver
ACT ONE: The woodsman Doristo has been abducted in order to serve as the celibate guardian of Diana’s Tree. The Goddess has created the tree to keep track of the chastity of her nymphs. If the nymphs are impure, the tree pelts them to death with rotten fruit. This has caused a war between Cupid, the God of Love and Diana. Disguised as his own sister, Cupid infiltrates Diana’s garden and meets the shepherds: Silvio and Endimione. The three men prove to be a dangerous distraction for the nymphs: Britomarte, Clizia and Chloe. Cupid convinces the two shepherds to shoot Diana with a magic arrow, while keeping the handsome Doristo to be Cupid’s own husband. Furious at the insult suffered by the men’s presence, Diana demands that her nymphs kill the men. Instead, Endimione is able to pierce Diana’s heart with one of Cupid’s arrows. Beside herself with fury, Diana causes the men to be tied up as prisoners of the garden.
20 minute intermission
ACT TWO: In secret, Britomarte frees the men from their bonds. Diana is able to prevent the escape and punishes Britomarte by removing her voice, but is suddenly aware of a strange feeling when Endimione comes near. The Goddess begs Clizia and Chloe to kill Endimione but they take pity and escape with the young man. Meanwhile Doristo is delighted to find himself alone with the mute Britomarte and offers to marry her much to the consternation of Cupid who is technically his fiancé. In a quandary, Diana bathes herself in preparation for a meeting with her oracle. Cupid hides Endimione nearby and when Diana discovers him, she can no longer deny her love for the shepherd. Cupid disguises Silvio as Diana’s oracle and prepares him for their meeting. Meanwhile, the three nymphs have given Doristo an ultimatum: he must choose one of them. Unable to choose, Doristo offers to marry all three at the same time. Diana begs Endimione to hide before her oracle arrives. With Cupid’s help, the disguised Silvio pretends to be offended by her affair and demands that Diana is put to the test by the tree. Completely defeated, Diana is saved from the test by a massive thunderstorm that destroys the tree. The triumphant Cupid arrives and announces that Doristo will be husband to all three nymphs, Silvio will become Cupid’s companion as high priest and Diana will live to enjoy her love with Endimione. The lovers all exclaim that indeed: Love conquers all.
See & Hear
Check out the charming overture to The Chastity Tree, and hear it live August 6, 12 and 19!
Costume designer Christine Crook shares some of her colorful and fun designs for Cupid, Diana, Doristo and the nymphs:
Cast and Artistic Staff
West Edge General Director Mark Streshinsky directs The Chastity Tree. Streshinsky has created many productions for the company, starting in 2003 with Eugene Onigin and continuing with productions of Legend of the Ring, Xerxes, Ariadne auf Naxos and many others. Nationally, Mark has been on the staging staffs of several large companies including San Francisco Opera, The Dallas Opera, Los Angeles Opera and New York City Opera. He has directed his own productions for Florida Grand Opera, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Seattle Opera, Dallas Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Boston Baroque, Cincinnati Opera and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
Pianist and conductor Robert Mollicone conducts The Chastity Tree. Mollicone serves as coach, prompter, and assistant conductor for the San Francisco Opera. He is also a frequent guest at such companies as Seattle Opera, Utah Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Opera San Jose. He has prepared productions with and assisted many of today’s leading conductors, including Jesús López-Cobos, Stephen Lord, Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers, and Nicola Luisotti. These nearly 40 productions since 2010 span the breadth of the operatic repertoire, including Ariadne auf Naxos, Turandot, La Cenerentola, Les Troyens, La Finta Giardiniera, and Show Boat.
Costume designer Christine Crook (The Chastity Tree, Frankenstein) made her West Edge debut designing costumes in 2014's Hydrogen Jukebox. She also designed for Lulu in 2015, and The Cunning Little Vixen and Powder Her Face at last year's festival. Crook is the resident costume designer with Opera Parallèle, and is a company member of Shotgun Players in Berkeley. Upcoming projects include Black Rider (Shotgun Players) and Leonard Bernstein's Mass (LA Philharmonic). Recently Christine has begun to explore her work independently in the context of design-driven performance art. This August 2017, in collaboration with Maggie Whitaker, she will present a new experimental performance titled Laughing & Crying at Z Space in San Francisco.
Set designer Jean-Francois Revon has designed over 250 productions for theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of his credits include the world premiere of Opera San José’s The Tale of the Nutcracker, as well as West Bay Opera’s Tosca, The Barber of Seville, Carmen, Turn of the Screw, Don Pasquale, The Consul, The Tales of Hoffmann and La bohème. He also designed North Bay Opera’s La Bohème and Don Giovanni, which was nominated in the 1998 “Artsy” for set design. He recently designed La Bohème for the Berkshire Opera. Jean-Francois made his Rimrock Opera debut with Girl of the Golden West.
Lighting designer Kevin Landesman is a Bay Area-based lighting, sets, and projections designer for opera, dance, and theatre. He is also the Lighting Director and frequent designer for West Edge Opera, Resident Designer and Theatre Operations Manager for Bay Area Children's Theatre, and the Technical Director for Hidden Valley Music Seminars. He has designed for local companies such as West Bay Opera, Mark Foehringer Dance Company, Ray of Light of Light, 42nd Street Moon, Golden Thread Productions, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, Playground, The Refuge, and African-American Shakespeare Company.