West Edge Opera presents full operas in the summer, but for the second year, they’re showing scenes from works that are still in progress, in a program called Snapshot. General Director Mark Streshinsky says there are selections from five operas, with a wide range of subjects: a harrowing Sci-Fi interrogation, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon, a woman with five distinct personalities, and two that are based on historical figures, Thomas Edison and Hugh Hefner.

There’s more information at the West Edge Opera website.

Before last year when the program was launched, there really wasn’t anything like it in this part of the country. “I had been spending a lot of time in New York experiencing and investigating new operas,” Streshinsky says, “and going to a lot of what’s called New Opera Samplers. Concerts of pieces that are in the works. So that the composer could hear a piece of their piece that’s happening, and the audience could get a real sense of what’s happening in the world of new opera. I was constantly asked, ‘Oh, out in California, you have great composers out there. What programs do you have in California to show off what they’re working on?” and I really couldn’t think of any.” They put out a call for scores, and Music Director Jonathan Khuner says they got a big response. “We looked at all the submissions, some 40 submissions, and from all those chose the five that we thought were the most interesting, the most varied, the most theatrical, the most… unique.” The singers are accompanied by members of the new music ensemble Earplay, conducted by Mary Chun. Brian Rosen’s Death of a Playboy was inspired by the social media discussions he saw following Hefner’s death. “That night I started seeing a bunch of posts from friends saying ‘You go, Hugh, that was an interesting life you led, and you made your own choices, and you made a difference.’  And I remember thinking it was strange that everybody was sort of celebrating this guy, and I posted, ‘What am I missing here?’” The characters include a former Playboy Bunny/Playmate and her husband, who are at the funeral, arguing about the legacy he left behind.

 

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