Geneva Anderson digs into art

Caliban Dreams–a new opera music theatre piece supplies a missing link in Shakespeare, at Sonoma State this weekend

First Look Sonoma, a new entertainment program, launches with the music theatre performance “Caliban Dreams,” at Sonoma State University’s Evert B. Person Theatre this Friday, August 12, 2011, and Sunday. Image courtesy: First Look Sonoma

An exciting new entertainment program, First Look Sonoma,  launches in Sonoma County this Friday night, bringing the locally written music theatre performance Caliban Dreams to Sonoma State University’s Evert B. Person Theatre.  First Look Sonoma was created by singing actor John Duykers, of Sebastopol, and producer/dramaturg Missy Weaver, of Santa Rosa and its mission is to bring “opera theatre on the edge” to Sonoma County audiences.  Caliban Dreams had its world premiere to rave reviews last week at the El Cerrito Theatre for Performing Arts with tenor John Duykers in the title role.

The story seeks to solve a mystery in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, The Tempest, written circa 1610.  In Act IV, Caliban, a slave and monster, has conspired with a ruffian to kill the magician Prospero and then Caliban disappears only to remerge in Act V, seeking forgiveness and grace but it is unclear how this transformation occurred.  Caliban Dreams addresses what might have happened. 

The opera focuses on two characters: Caliban (Duykers), who longs for freedom and the love of Miranda, and the spirit Ariel (Laura Bohn), whose ability to shape-shift allows her to circumvent the full force of Caliban’s drive for vengeance.

The initial impetus for the piece came in 1999, when the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival approached composer Clark Suprynowicz to create a piece based on The Tempest.  Suprynowicz and his partner, Amanda Moody, a writer, began what  would become a 10 year gestation period for the piece and collaboration with Duykers and Missy Weaver, who produced it.  It was performed in concert in 2003 at The Magic Theater as part of the Z Space/Magic Theatre New Works Initiative.

While Caliban Dreams has been called an opera by some, Duykers, prefers to call it opera music theatre because the music writing is not as limited as it is in traditional opera.  “The roles of Caliban and Ariel are written for classically trained singers who have a lot of flexibility, explained Duykers.”   There’s lots of spoken text too, so it has a form similar to opera but not as limited.  Our experience in El Cerrito has been that they are loving it and it’s not about people standing around singing arias.  Of course, all of opera is evolving and it’s less about people standing and singing and more about theater.”

When asked what the overall message of the performance is, Duykers replied, “You find nothing from anger.  War doesn’t work.  You see so much anger in the culture today and we have to go and fight these people and ultimately it just doesn’t work—anger just breeds anger.  If you can forgive and let go, that’s the best way to exist.”

Caliban Dreams is a co-production of Berkeley West Edge Opera and First Look Sonoma. In collaboration with Cinnabar Theater and Quantum Opera SSU

Written by Clark Suprynowicz and Amanda Moody

Starring John Duykers and Laura Bohn, with Aimee Puentes, Alexis Jensen, and Scott Graff.  Ancora girls choir, conducted by Dr. Lynne Morrow

Details: August 12 at 8 p.m. and August 14 at 2 p.m. at Person Theater, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park  Advance Tickets: $15-$40 at or by phone  707.763.8920.  At the door $50/$20 checks and cash only. Proceeds go to the benefit of First Look Sonoma, Cinnabar Theater, and MainStageWest.

August 10, 2011 - Posted by | Opera | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Dukers is well known for his role as Chairman Mao Tse-Tung in the 1987 world premiere of John Adam’s opera “Nixon in China.”  He also created and sang in the opera theatre production “Caliban Dreams,” which had a run at the El Cerrito Theatre for the Performing Arts and was performed twice last August at Sonoma State University’s Person  (Read ARThound’s 8.10.2011 coverage of Duyker’s “Caliban Dreams” here.) […]

    Pingback by “Daughter of the Red Tzar,” a new chamber opera exploring Churchill and Stalin’s relationship through the eyes of Stalin’s teenaged daughter—starring Sebastopol Tenor John Duykers as Winston Churchill—has its world premiere tonight at San Fran | August 24, 2012 | Reply

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