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Composer Clark Suprynowicz and playwright John O’Keefe collaborated with with director Mark Streshinsky and Berkeley Opera’s artistic/music director Jonathan Khuner to create Chrysalis, a new opera that premiered in 2006. An evening-length work, sung in English, Chrysalis explored the world of body transformation, cosmetic surgery, and genetic alteration.  The play’s heroine–a high-powered representative of a corporation specializing in image modification–suffered from the recurring nightmare that her “double” was trying to replace her in her sleep.

Critical to the opera’s development was a workshop of key scenes in August 2005 that was followed by revisions through spring 2006.  The collaborators focused the Creative Work Fund grant on the workshop and subsequent collaborative sessions to refine the opera.

Clark Suprynowicz is the composer of the operas Ariadne (City Summer Opera, 1999) and Caliban Dreams, (San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, 2003), directed by Jonathan Khuner.  Suprynowicz’s and Khuner’s work together on Caliban Dreams inspired them to initiate a new collaboration. John O’Keefe is an award-winning playwright with many successful and critically-acclaimed productions to his credit. At the time of this project he was artist-in-residence at Berkeley Opera.  Mark Streshinsky, director of the premiere, had worked on prior projects with Jonathan Khuner.

Berkeley Opera–now West Edge Opera–was founded in 1979 by baritone Richard Goodman. Its mission is to present opera as lively, compelling musical theater, fusing music and drama to delight, move and challenge its audiences while remaining accessible, affordable, and engaging.  At the time of this grant, Berkeley Opera had presented 56 operas by 38 different composers, and its history encompassed a wide variety of repertoire, including commissions of new works.