Sunday, July 29, 2012

West Edge Opera's "City of Sin"

Barihunk Daniel Cilli (shirtless) and Paul Murray
West Edge Opera is doing some of the more interesting and original programming in the American opera scene under Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky. The company, formerly known as Berkeley Opera, has moved to neighboring El Cerrito with a repertory geared to attracting a broader and younger opera audience. The revamped company is a key player in the rich San Francisco opera scene which includes the conservative San Jose Opera, internationally acclaimed San Francisco Opera, stunning baroque opera/oratorio from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and dozens of regional companies. For opera lovers looking for a change of pace from the usual fare, West Edge Opera has become the company of choice.

West Edge Opera is pairing the Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht social satire “Mahagonny Songspiel” with another one-act opera, Daron Hagen's “Vera of Las Vegas.” Regular readers of this site will recall that Hagen debuted his opera "Amelia" at the Seattle Opera in May 2010 with a cast that included Nathan Gunn as Paul (and fellow barihunk David McFerrin in the second cast).

The productions include shirtless singers, modern day references, a world-famous countertenor in drag, musical mash-ups of jazz/cabaret/classical music and the famous "Alabama Song." 

Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky discusses "City of Sin":

In 1927, Mahagonny Songspiel became the first major hit for the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill collaboration. It was later expanded to become the full-length opera "The Rise and Rall of the City of Mahagonny."

Countertenor Brian Asawa and Tenor Thomas Glenn (giving barihunks a run for their money)
Composer Daron Hagen and poet Paul Muldoon have teamed up to create a quintessentially American dream-gone-wrong opera, set in the quintessential city of illusory hopes, Las Vegas. The story is about two former IRA operatives trying to escape their nightmares who become enmeshed in a surrealistic Vegas fantasy of sex- and identity- confusion. The score will is played by a 1920’s cabaret band.

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