West Edge Opera, formerly Berkeley Opera, is a leading Bay Area opera company. As part of their 2017 – 2018 season, they will be staging Libby Larsen’s Frankenstein.
New archetypes aren’t minted very often, but Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is certainly among them. Two hundred years after the publication of the novel, West Edge presents Libby Larsen’s operatic treatment with its resonant themes of ego, ambition, and the war between reason and emotion. Working with frequent collaborator Jeremy Knight, West Edge brings to fruition the technological innovations suggested in this rich score that could only be hinted at in the work’s premiere. Frankenstein is the kind of work that has become West Edge Opera’s calling card.
Frankenstein is an exploration of the intellectual ambition, technological arrogance, isolation, and the deep human need for companionship. The plot concerns a young medical student, Victor Frankenstein. Having dabbled in the taboo arts of alchemy, he succumbs to his ambition and combines his medical and alchemist skills to create a human life. Ignoring the warnings of his friends and family, he uses electricity to create a new life which he immediately repels as a monstrous, evil creation. The monster, an innocent, is cast loose and forced to survive alone. Seized by a multiplicity of sensations, it learns to distinguish and supply its basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Finally, it conceals itself in the dark corner of a cottage. There, by observing some cottagers, it learns to speak, to read, to love. When the monster at last approaches people in search of companionship, they repel him, even attack him. Tragically, he realizes that he is condemned to a lonely, alienated existence. He confronts Frankenstein, demanding that Victor create a monstrous mate. Frankenstein agrees, but then recants. The monster responds by causing the death of Justine, a trusted companion, and by murdering all those dear to Frankenstein: William, his younger brother; Elizabeth, the bride; and Clerval, his best friend. In the end, Victor must lead his own life lonely, wandering, isolated, half-mad, in endless pursuit of the monster. As in Shelley’s novel, the character of the explorer, Captain Robert Walton, frames both the action and thematic content of the story.
Performance Details at a Glance:
August 12, 17, 20
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Conducted by Jonathan Khuner
Directed by Matthew Ozawa
Source: Frankenstein — West Edge Opera