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This World Premiere Event of works by Jake Heggie features three song cycles reimagined as fully staged chamber operas. These three moving narratives share one common theme: the deep human desire for love and acceptance. Festival Opera welcomes a world-class cast of West Coast artists with strong ties to Heggie’s operas and song repertoire. As we celebrate our 30th Anniversary Season, we are thrilled and honored to feature the collaboration and performance of Jake Heggie himself in this newly assembled work. This production is the result of General Director Zachary Gordin’s long standing relationship with Jake Heggie and his works, and of their conversations about what opera can be in this era of rebirth.

Carrie Hennessey as Rose

Diana Tash as Camille

Curt Branom as Gad

Zachary Gordin as Manfred

with Jake Heggie, composer and pianist

Mark Foehringer, Director

Bryan Nies, Conductor

with members of the Festival Opera Orchestra


August 13, 2021 at 7:30 PM 

August 15, 2021 at 2:00 PM

Hofmann Theatre 

Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek

At the Statue of Venus

Libretto: Terrence McNally 

Rose: Carrie Hennessey

Pianist: Jake Heggie


Rose, who is newly navigating the dating sphere, anxiously awaits her blind date. They have agreed to meet in a museum near the statue of Venus. While she waits, her thoughts and emotions are a jumble of hope, uncertainty, and self-doubt. She is self-conscious about her clothes, unsure of how she'll make this first impression. She compares herself to other women she sees around her in the museum. Will he like her? Will she like him? Why did she - a proudly successful modern woman - allow her friends to convince her that they had found a Mr. Right for her? She muses hopefully, “Will I know him? Of course, I will. He’ll be a man I can laugh with and be myself with. He’ll be handsome which only means, when I look at him, my heart will swell. That’s all handsome is: happiness…” Will Mr. Right appear?

Camille Claudel: Into the Fire

Libretto: Gene Scheer

Camille: Diana Tash


French sculptor Camille Claudel (1864-1943), a genius in her own right, is often known only by her association with a man: Auguste Rodin, who was her mentor, teacher and became her lover. Shattered by their stormy and ill-fated love affair, and a career sabotaged at every turn, Claudel was tragically committed to an asylum by order of her own family. This story unfolds on the day she is committed. As dawn breaks, Camille awakens to the strange reality of what is about to happen to her, and she addresses her sculptures.

For a Look or a Touch

Libretto: Gene Scheer

Manfred: Zachary Gordin

Gad: Curt Branom


This deeply moving song cycle is a revealing examination of the persecution homosexuals endured under the Nazi regime. This important and timely work reflects on these historic realities from a more intimate and human distance. Manfred and Gad were lovers as teenagers in Berlin until Manfred and his family were murdered by the Third Reich. Gad, in the present day, is visited one night by Manfred’s ghost. Gad wants desperately to forget the horrors he has lived. Manfred insists on being remembered. Most of all Manfred implores Gad to remember their powerful and timeless love.

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