Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Change of Venue, West Edge Opera Edition

West Edge Opera, which has used the abandoned Wood Street train station for part or all of its summer festival for the last couple of years, will not be able to do so this year after all. Short version: the City of Oakland withdrew permission to hold public events there.

Negotiations are in progress for a new venue, the location of which isn't disclosed in WEO's press release. There will still be a shuttle to the site and it will have amenities similar to those of the train station.

Press release is below the cut.

West Edge Opera announces another “departure from the ordinary”New venue to be announced for West Edge Festival 2017

Berkeley, CA – May 30, 2017 - West Edge Opera announces that the 16th Street Station in West Oakland will no longer host the West Edge Festival 2017, which includes Thomas’ Hamlet, Larsen’s Frankenstein, and Martin y Soler’s The Chastity Tree on August 5 – 20.

BRIDGE Housing, the owners of the 16th Street Station, informed the company in April that the City of Oakland would no longer grant permits for public events in the space. West Edge Opera staff worked for weeks to coordinate an appeal or delay before it was confirmed that the Planning and Building Department would not grant the requests.

General Director Mark Streshinsky says, “We are disappointed to lose the much-beloved train station for our Festival. I’m thankful that we were able to anticipate that this might happen and have the time necessary to find a wonderful new space that will offer a fresh adventure for our audiences.”

We have identified a new venue in West Oakland that retains the spirit of adventure and experimentation that is so closely associated with our company, and our design and technical crews are already exploring the possibilities of working in the space. We will announce the venue within a few weeks after its owners agree on our proposed safety, parking and security plans. The new venue’s floor plan will be identical to that in the train station; patrons who have already purchased series tickets will not experience a disruption in their seat choices. This press release serves to both quell rumors and keep patrons informed before single tickets go on sale this Thursday, June 1 at 9:00 a.m.

A free shuttle will be available to transport patrons from the West Oakland BART station to the new venue, which will still include a Festival Pavilion that opens to the public two hours before each performance. We will continue to offer complimentary beer and wine to patrons and space for them to enjoy box meals from Berkeley’s Poulet before each show. General Director Mark Streshinsky will lead pre-curtain talks in the Festival Pavilion approximately 45 minutes before each performance. Guests are also invited to attend a post-performance reception there where they can meet the performers and artistic staff. Food and ticket orders may be made either online at www.westedgeopera.org or by calling (510) 841-1903.

About the 16th Street Station: Architect Jarvis Hunt designed the station in 1912. The Beaux-Arts building served as Oakland’s primary train station until the 1989 earthquake, after which the tracks were moved to the other side of I-880 and the building was left to decay. The station remains one of Oakland’s most significant historic landmarks and we are thankful to have produced in the space, beginning in 2015 when we performed Alban Berg’s Lulu to critical acclaim. The graffiti-strewn and abandoned station offered an invigorating experience for audience and press alike, and there we produced the entire West Edge Festival 2016, including Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, Ades’ Powder Her Face, and Handel’s AgrippinaQuestions regarding the 16th Street Station may be directed to Frankie Whitman of BRIDGE Housing, available via email at fwhitman@bridgehousing.com.

About the West Edge Festival 2017: The West Edge Festival 2017 includes Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas and librettists Michel Carré and Jules Barbier, The Chastity Tree by Vicente Martin y Soler and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, and Frankenstein with music and text by Libby Larsen. Hamlet stars Edward Nelson in the title role, Emma McNairy as Ophélie, and Metropolitan Opera veteran Susanne Mentzer as Gertrude. Hamlet runs August 5 at 8 p.m.August 13 at 3 p.m., and August 19 at 1 p.m. The Chastity Tree features dancers from Oakland's Sarah Berges Dance, Christine Brandes as Cupid, Nikki Einfeld as Diana, and Malte Roesner makes his North American debut as Doristo. The Chastity Tree runs August 6 at 3 p.m.August 12 at 1 p.m., and August 19 at 8 p.m. Libby Larsen's Frankenstein from 1990 rounds out the festival. The work features Gary “NoNoize” Morgan of Oakland’s Turf Fienz fame as the monster, Samuel Levine as Frankenstein, and Chelsea Hollow as Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s wife. Frankenstein runs August 12 at 8 p.m.August 17 at 7:30 p.m., and August 20 at 3 p.m.

About West Edge Opera: A not-for-profit performing arts organization, West Edge Opera was founded in 1979 by Richard Goodman. Music Director Jonathan Khuner led the company from 1994-2009, when he was joined by Mark Streshinsky as Artistic Director, now General Director. West Edge Opera looks at the art form through a new lens, re-imagining tradition to connect with a modern audience and create innovative experiences of the highest quality that respect the original spirit of the work.

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