The first time I ever saw an opera, live or otherwise, was less than two years ago. (For the record, it was Lyric’s 2014 Il Trovatore—or, more accurately, the second half of it.) Prior to that, something about the opera house felt off-limits, even though I’d long felt comfortable in the concert hall. Maybe it was my near-total ignorance of the repertoire, or my mother’s intense dislike of all things opera (stemming from an unfortunate experience involving Wagner and standing-room-only tickets). But if I’m being completely honest, I still feel that way sometimes.
Thank God, then, for small companies, which, to someone like me, seem to embody everything big houses are not: young, flexible, adventurous, and, at least comparatively, cheap. (Lyric General Director Anthony Freud and Daniel Grambow of Chicago’s Floating Opera Company discussed the unique challenges of running large and small opera companies in a panel discussion at the University of Chicago earlier this year.)
Having spent most of the summer in my hometown, an East Bay suburb, I can’t help, then, but be disappointed that I wasn’t aware of West Edge Opera sooner. Otherwise, I might have been turned on to opera long before college.