Cutting-Edge Opera About Sex and Capitalism, Performed in an Oakland Warehouse

Since 1979, West Edge Opera has jumped all over the East Bay from one unlikely venue to another. This year, the company known for pushing the boundaries of opera has landed at yet another out-of-the-way spot: a former train warehouse at the foot of the Bay Bridge.

But the location isn't the most interesting thing about West Edge's new season. For my money, it's Breaking the Waves, a new opera by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek, based on the bleak 1996 Lars Von Trier film. The West Edge production stars Sara LeMesh as Bess McNeill, the young wife whose injured husband encourages her to sleep with other men due to his immobility; reviewing its premiere three years ago, the New York Times praised its lush orchestration and "powerful, permeating mood."

I don't know anybody who rushes to defend Von Trier's treatment of women, either in his films or behind the camera. So, as if to offset Breaking the Waves, West Edge's season also includes Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, conducted, directed, choreographed, designed, and performed by women and non-binary artists. And rounding out the season is The Threepenny Opera, with Maya Kherani as Polly Peachum (above) and Derek Chester as Mack the Knife. Something tells me that Threepenny's story about class morality and capitalism will resonate extra strong on the Oakland shore, with the skyline of San Francisco as a backdrop.—Gabe Meline

August 3, 2019

The Bridge Yeard
210 Burma Road, Oakland

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