Hello, my friends! It’s a little late to write this blog post, but better late then never, and consider this advance notice for next year’s festival. What festival, you ask? West Edge Opera’s summer opera festival. I’ve been putting off seeing this festival for years (for no good reason I could think of), but now that I’ve experienced it, I know I will not miss any more shows! I have a great food rec for you all, too. ;)
West Edge Opera
In this case, I had the chance to see my friend, mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney, perform in The Chastity Tree by 18th century Spanish composer Martin y Soler. All of the festival’s performances took place at Pacific Pipe in Oakland, an abandoned pipe manufacturing facility. With graffiti covering the gritty interior and exterior walls, and enormous metal sculptures dotting the terrain around the building, the area looked more like the site of an upcoming rave than an opera. That’s part of the charm of Oakland’s vibrant art scene, and West Edge Opera.
The opera production was brilliant, rivaling anything I’ve seen at my favorite international opera festival in Aix-en-Provence. Under the baton of Robert Mollicone, the orchestra pranced its way through the music. The staging and choreography was executed with minimal colors and props, and maximum color and irreverence. The chastity tree of the opera’s title was populated by moving leaves—actually, they were dancers wearing leotards each featuring a single, enormous “breast” that lit up when needed. The principal females’ costumes were festive with lots of sequins and fluffy hair. Pink clouds, backdrops, and props added to the playful scene.
As for the singing and performing, it was solid all around, and brilliant often. Nikki Einfeld as the goddess Diana was sublime. Christine Brandes made for a cunning Cupid. All of the soloists were solid in their acting and singing. If you want to see the amazing art that a determined, incredibly talented opera company can accomplish despite many restrictions, look no further than West Edge Opera.
As for the food, well, one should not go to the opera hungry! Molly’s husband and I had some time to find dinner in West Oakland, and so we stopped by Ivy Moon on a whim. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you may notice I don’t write about very many restaurants, only the ones that really knock my socks off. Well, Ivy Moon made the cut!
The cuisine was jaw-droppingly good. Every bite. My dining companion ordered the scallops, which featured grits, greens, fresh corn, deep fried jalapeno peppers, and other fresh vegetables. The scallops were succulent, the vegetables all cooked to perfection, the flavors and textures impeccably orchestrated. He added a luscious biscuit and gravy to the mix to make sure he wouldn’t walk away hungry. I ordered some of the finest chicken and waffles of my life—the chicken was served in boneless, juicy morsels with a little cayenne pepper (and . . . rosemary?) in the delicate crust. The waffles were soft, fluffy, and perfect for sopping up all of that butter and maple syrup. We shared a mac ‘n’ cheese because he had to. It came thick with cheese and a satisfying, crunchy crust.
The service at Ivy Moon was truly first-rate. Everybody in the restaurant was warm, inviting, attentive, and eager to create a great experience for us. They gave a genuine, heartfelt welcome that was refreshing, and so sweet!
Please try Ivy Moon for yourself. You will not be disappointed!
3112 Market St, Oakland, CA 94608
Wed-Mon: 8am-9pm. Closed Tuesdays
See West Edge Opera’s website for their performances throughout the year, and their summer festival! Maybe we’ll see each other at a performance!
What have been some recent amazing discoveries where YOU live? I want to know in the comments!!