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West Edge Opera Returns to Berkeley (for Now)

April 29, 2014

Christine Capsuto sings Musetta in West Edge Opera's <em>La bohème</em> Photo by Lucas KrechHomeless but enduring West Edge Opera will compact its 35th season into a summer festival of three productions, performed July 26 through Aug. 10 at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley.

Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky and Music Director Jonathan Khuner will head what they call an "immersive" version of Puccini’s La bohème (with the action taking place all around and among the audience), followed by Philip Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox, and the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair.

Mounting a new season as we continue to search for a permanent home has presented many challenges," says Streshinsky, "which in turn means many opportunities. Our new mobility plays into my long desire for three things: to come back to Berkeley, to do opera in an alternative venue, and to do it in a festival format.

We found an exciting partnership with the Ed Roberts Campus, an internationally recognized facility dedicated to services for persons with disabilities. The building is a model of the new movement of universal architecture and is just an elevator ride from the Ashby BART Station beneath. We will present our entire festival of three operas in ERC's spacious and beautiful atrium."

Home for the homeless: the atriumStreshinsky will direct La bohème; Jonathan Khuner will conduct. Singers are sopranos Alexandra Sessler (Mimi) and Christine Capsuto (Musetta), tenor James Callon (Rodolfo), Jordan Eldredge (Schaunard), and bass Brandon Keith Biggs (Colline).

Hydrogen Jukebox, set to the poems of Allen Ginsberg, will be directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer and conducted by David Möschler. The cast includes tenor Jonathan Blalock, baritone Efraín Solís, bass Kenneth Kellogg, sopranos Sara Duchovnay and Molly Mahoney, and mezzo-soprano Nicole Takesono.

The End of the Affair is based on Graham Greene's eponymous novel. Streshinsky and Khuner will lead a cast headed by soprano Carrie Hennessey, baritone Philip Cutlip, mezzo-soprano Donna Olson, and baritone Philip Skinner.

Festival subscriptions are now on sale, priced from $120 for seniors and youth, to $135 for general admission. Single tickets will go on sale June 1.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].