about the company
West Edge Opera looks at the art form through a new lens: we present early and contemporary works and re-imagine opera tradition to engage and entertain a diverse audience.
Now in its 43rd season, West Edge Opera has presented 95 complete operas. Repertoire includes new and unusual works as well as both favorite and lesser-known works by well-known composers. West Edge opera has presented world, American, and west coast opera premieres, and commissioned three new operas and several new translations and adaptations of classic works.
Formerly known as Berkeley Opera, the company was founded in 1979 by baritone Richard Goodman, an Engineering Professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Jonathan Khuner became Artistic Director in 1994. Khuner invited Mark Streshinsky to become Artistic Director in 2010 while taking on the role of Music Director. As the company grew under Streshinsky and Khuner’s direction,the company was renamed West Edge Opera in 2014 and Streshinsky became its first General Director.
In 2014 The company moved from year-round performances to a summer festival. At the same time,it became a company known for found and alternative space performance. 2015’s Lulu by Alban Berg marked a turning point in the company’s history. the ground-breaking production and the audacity of a small company taking on this difficult piece,meant that West Edge was the talk of the town and tickets quickly became impossible to get. Lulu was the first production that we created in Oakland’s abandoned train station which quickly became the favorite venue.
2016: Agrippina at Oakland's abandoned 16th Street station
2017: Frankenstein at Pacific Pipe
Other productions were created in such places as Berkeley’s Ed Roberts Campus, Richmond’s The Craneway and most recently The Bridgeyard, the old maintenance facility for the Key Train which preceded BART, located across from the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. One of the noted hallmarks of the West Edge experience became that the audience never knew what adventure we would take them on next, but they loved it.
West Edge is a family. A family of artists, singers, musicians, donors and subscribers. When the festival was forced to be cancelled in 2020 due to Covid, our family of donors came through with the funds to help our singers, musicians and stage crew. Everyone who was contracted to work on Festival 2020 received two-thirds of the amount they would have made. They also received an invitation to return in 2021 to perform the planned 2020 season.
In late 2020, plans began to form for West Edge to take part in Cal Shakes’ Season of Shared Light in Summer 2021. Recognizing that their beautiful outdoor venue, The Bruns Ampitheater, would be a needed resource in the months to come as things began to open, they agreed to re-work their season so that other companies could perform in the Bruns. We are thrilled to be one of the first outside companies to perform there.