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2 compelling classical fests are kicking off in Bay Area


Was Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen born to sing Handel?  Opera fans could possibly consider so, as soon as they’ve listened to this dynamic, abundant-voiced countertenor in a person of the composer’s masterworks.

Audiences will get the prospect beginning this weekend, when West Edge Opera opens its Competition 2022 season with Handel’s “Julius Caesar,” starring Cohen in the title role of the legendary Roman basic.

West Edge’s summer months competition returns on the identical weekend when light-weight opera enterprise Lyric Theatre is kicking off a new festival at San Jose’s Hammer Theatre Heart (additional on that later).

West Edge’s new creation of “Julius Caesar,” carried out by Christine Brandes and directed by West Edge common director Mark Streshinsky, opens July 23 as the initial of 3 whole productions in the company’s new location at the Oakland’s Scottish Rite Centre. Continuing by means of Aug. 14, the period also consists of “Ariane and Bluebeard” by Paul Dukas, starring mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier the American premiere of “Coraline” by Mark-Anthony Turnage, with Kendra Broom in the title part and a workshop overall performance of a new opera, “Bulrusher,” by composer Nathaniel Stookey and playwright Eisa Davis.

Cohen, a New York native, has built a significant effect in his prior Bay Place appearances. He was a participant in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Youthful Artist method, and was named an Adler Fellow by the business in 2018. He created his San Francisco Opera mainstage debut the next year as Medoro in Handel’s “Orlando.”

Because then, he’s sung a assortment of roles, but has been persistently praised as a wonderful interpreter of Handel’s audio — 1 who will make even the most intricate passagework musically urgent and considerably eloquent.

The West Edge manufacturing of “Julius Caesar,” which also stars soprano Shawnette Sulker as Cleopatra, marks Cohen’s to start with look with Streshinsky’s company, and his initially time singing a completely staged manufacturing of the opera. He sang the title part of “Julius Caesar” very last September in a Russian live performance production live-streamed from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory assessments praised his “beautiful color” and “excellent range” in the purpose. “The orchestra was excellent,” notes Cohen, “but I don’t believe I’ll be returning to Russia.”

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Now he’s thrilled to be starring in a full production of the opera nearer to residence: Cohen, who life in Oakland, calls Julius Caesar “a aspiration position.”

“It was one of the operas that designed me want to sing Handel,” he said.

Cohen 1st checked out a West Edge output while he was even now 1 of San Francisco’s “Merolini” — and was extensively amazed. “I appreciate Mark’s productions — they’re so clever and always incredibly staged.”

He’s also excited for the option to perform with Brandes, an acclaimed soprano whose second profession as a conductor has yielded excellent do the job following singing the job of Cupid in the West Edge creation of “The Chastity Tree,” she returned to carry out the company’s 2019 production of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Orfeo and Euridice.”

“She’s great — a genuine singer’s conductor,” said Cohen.

Just after his to start with Bay Space appearances as an East Coastline artist, Cohen set down roots right here. He and his wife lived in San Francisco for a when they’ve since moved to Oakland. Living locally has presented him the prospect to work with Bay Spot organizations afterwards this year, he’ll sing the function of Didymus in Handel’s “Theodora” with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and appear in concert performances of the composer’s “Messiah” at San Francisco Symphony. (He also created an appearance on the PBS foodie display “Check You should Bay Place,” which he states was fantastic exciting.)

Ask Cohen to identify his beloved moment in “Julius Caesar,” and he says there are far too several. “There are so quite a few gems,” he said. “It’s a actual hit parade.”

But he simply cannot resist mentioning two of his character’s arias, which offer you marked dramatic contrast: “Empio, dirò, tu sei,” a furious torrent of shade and phrasing that establishes Caesar’s warrior facet, and “Alma del gran Pompeo,” sung following the loss of life of his rival, Pompey. The latter episode, he says, is often relocating — “just a really intimate, beautiful reflection on mortality.”

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Cohen surely has not constrained his stage operate to Handel operas. He’s manufactured great contributions in modern performs most a short while ago, he and fellow countertenor Christopher Lowrey have been Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere creation of Brett Dean’s “Hamlet.” And new operates will go on to engage in a position on his calendar heading forward. “I’ve unquestionably completed extra Baroque than contemporary audio,” he explained. “But above the next several seasons, it’ll be about 50-50, and I like that.”

Nevertheless, he explained, Baroque audio continues to be his major concentration. “My coronary heart is in Handel,” he said. “For me, his new music just feels so purely natural.”

Facts: July 23-14 Scottish Rite Middle, Oakland series passes $132-$378,  solitary tickets $10-$140 510-841-1903 www.westedgeopera.org.

Sondheim, Gilbert and Sullivan, and far more

It’s a series that will make music enthusiasts want to hum alongside: in what promises thirteen grand evenings of singing, Lyric Theatre of San Jose’s new summer months pageant has a little something for each and every musical theater and light-weight opera lover. The sequence options two timeless and extremely distinct stage operates, opening with a fully staged output of Gilbert and Sullivan’s beloved “Pirates of Penzance” and continuing with Stephen Sondheim’s amazing musical-theater masterwork, “Into the Woods.” Completing the timetable is a live performance method titled “Light Opera Around the Globe,” featuring musical favorites by Strauss, Lehar, Offenbach, Rossini, Victor Herbert, and Jerome Kern, focusing on musical performs that inspired and outlined the mild opera genre.

13 performances of 3 reveals about 3 weekends in all, this baker’s dozen of gatherings is a fitting providing by the South Bay organization in celebration of its 50th anniversary calendar year. The pageant features performances with a array of begin occasions, from 11 a.m. to matinees at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 5 and 8 p.m., so verify the complete program for ticket availability.

Specifics: July 23-Aug. 7 Hammer Theatre Heart, San Jose $15-$40 408-986-1455 www.lyrictheatre.org.

— Get in touch with Ga Rowe at growe@pacbell.net.

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