For the second Sunday in a row last weekend, I enjoyed a ferryboat ride from the SF Ferry Building to Jack London Square, and marveled at the height of the new butt plug shaped Salesforce headquarters which is dominating the skyline.
I was in Oakland to see West Edge Opera present a stripped-down version of a 19th century French Grand Opera written by Ambroise Thomas based on Dumas' French translation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. I pretty much disliked everything about the opera except for Edward Nelson's beautiful baritone as the title character and the 10-person makeshift chorus who sounded like a crack 30-person ensemble while navigating some very clunky blocking. It also confirmed that my long-time disdain for 19th Century French Grand Opera as a genre is probably justified. Other people seemed to like it including Joshua Kosman and Stephen Smoliar (above right).
Other than that, it was a completely delightful afternoon. The abandoned Pacific Pipe Company warehouse has much better acoustics than the abandoned Oakland Train Station of the last two years. The troupe is also figuring out how to make their predominantly elderly, adventurous audience feel comfortable. The free BART shuttle service this summer from the West Oakland BART station received rave reviews from friends who used it. And near the beer garden there are a pair of the most luxurious port-a-potties I have ever experienced, lording over a row of lesser, traditional models. All three operas of the Festival will be making their last appearance this weekend, and it's very much worth checking out, especially The Chastity Tree on Saturday night.