Two months ago, West Edge Opera artistic director Mark Streshinsky learned that the company was losing its venue at Oakland’s Abandoned Train Station. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time the company’s summer season was fully planned, and rehearsals were about to begin. But Streshinsky didn’t despair. Instead, he went into high gear, finding a new performance space that was just as accommodating — and just as unusual.
That’s par for the course for West Edge, which has become the Bay Area’s most adventurous opera company.
Now Streshinsky and company are putting the finishing touches on their new venue, a 500-seat space at Pacific Pipe in West Oakland. In this massive former factory, West Edge will present its 2017 festival, which features three very different operas: “Hamlet” by Ambroise Thomas, “The Chastity Tree” by Vicente Martín y Soler and “Frankenstein” by Libby Larsen. Performances run Aug. 5-20.
On a recent afternoon, Streshinsky took me on a tour of Pacific Pipe, which was built in 1920 and refurbished in the 1960s. It’s mostly an artist space now, with outer walls covered with grafitti and large metal sculptures displayed in the tented outdoor area where operagoers will sip wine and hear preshow talks. Inside, a large stage was already in place; tech crews were still installing lighting and video screens. On the other side of the building, workers were building the temple for this year’s Burning Man festival.
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