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Red Earth. Hunger​​​

SAGA of the 21st Century Girl

SAGA of the 21st Century Girl

composed by Sheli Nan

libretto by Sheli Nan

co-production with ROCKIT Opera and First Look Sonoma

with Musical Traditions, Inc.





Crystal Philippi, The Girl

Valentina Osinski, The Mother

Jo Vincent Parks, The Father

Alexis Lane Jensen, Shadow

John Duykers, Shadow



Sheli Nan, Composer/Librettist

Melissa Weaver, Director

Mary Chun, Music Director

Matthew E. Jones, Video Designer

Jane Courant, Assistant Director

Brent Harnisch, Assistant Video Designer

Natalie Moran, Marketing/PR



Marja Mutru, Piano

Steven Hoffman, Bass

Clairejean, Violin

Rachel Condry, Clarinet

Stacey Pelinka, Alto Flute



Friday, April 4, 2014 8pm
Saturday, April 5, 2014 8pm
Sunday, August 6, 2014 7pm

Arpeggio Center, Osher Studio
2055 Center Street  
Berkeley, CA 94704



Purchase your tickets to this world premiere for only $25

Just click HERE!

Calling Brown Paper Tickets (800) 838-3006

Or emailing






Closing Night Performance

Post-opera Talkback

From April 4-6, 2014, First Look Sonoma and ROCKIT Opera will present the World Premiere of composer/librettist Sheli Nan’s, SAGA of the 21st Century Girl: A Rock Opera Thriller conducted by Mary Chun and directed by Melissa Weaver. This new opera stars Crystal Philippi in the title role as the disturbed young Girl struggling to cope with her self-absorbed Mother (Valentina Osinski) and gutless Father (Jo Vincent Parks) and their dysfunctional home. SAGA will open on Friday, April 4, 2014, and run for 3 performances. Portraying various aspects of the predatory impulse are the Shadows, both hilarious and genuinely frightening, portrayed by Alexis Lane Jensen and John Duykers. Video imagery designed by Matthew E. Jones will enliven the action.


With SAGA of the 21st Century Girl, Sheli Nan has crafted a score and libretto that offer biting satire and social commentary as viewed through a musical lens. The score is influenced by Baroque, Salsa, Afro-Cuban music and the work of Weill and Brecht. This story conveys a timeless yet distinctly modern tale of a Girl at risk in today’s age of the Internet who yearns to find love. No one needs her, wants her, or has time for her. As energy run wild with no moral compass, the Girl develops from preyed upon to predator with tragic consequences. She becomes the sacrifice that society demands. This completely original narrative with haunting musical themes is dynamic, captivating, and humorous at times. SAGA is recommended for mature audiences.


The music is achingly beautiful and allows the listener to digest the harsh truth of the underbelly of the very greedy who pursue their own ends to the detriment of their offspring and society. She sings."How did I find myself alone, so full of toys without a home" and we travel with her on her tortuous journey toward self-definition and violence both coming toward her and emanating from her. The music of this operetta at once disarms and places the listener on guard. This piece will feature musicians on tenor recorder, clarinet, violin, electric bass, and piano and each singers' character represents an archetype for human behavior.


First Look Sonoma, ROCKIT Opera, and Musical Traditions have made it their mission to share their wealth of experience with young talent and nurture the next generation of performing artists while exploring contemporary cultural and political issues.


We hope you're ready for this exciting musical thriller!





Sheli Nan is a composer, author, teacher and performer. Her music is published by PRB Productions of Albany, California at, SMM Productions and Tech-Clazz Publishing Co. Sheli considers her music studio to be a laboratory of educational revelation. She has taught piano, harpsichord, voice, guitar, and composition for years. Sheli also has 20 editions of music published to date for a variety of baroque and classical instruments. Her book, "The Essential Piano Teacher's Guide" and her CDs are available on She has been invited to perform in Mexico, (1997) British Anguilla, (1998) Spain, (2000) Cuba (2003) and Buenos Aires (2004) to give concerts of original and period music. In March of 2004, under the baton of Noreen Green, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony performed Nan's Piece,"Sarah and Hagar.” In 2008 The San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra premiered two movements from her symphony, “Signatures in Time and Place” and in 2009 The Ariel Quarett (Bill Barbini) premiered "String Quartet for the 21st Century " at the San Francisco Conservatory. Her keyboard music has been performed by Igor Kipnis, Arthur Haas, Elaine Funaro, Jane Chapman and others.



Crystal Philippi brings to the stage the soul and charm of her hometown, New Orleans. She has appeared as Carmen in Carmen, Charlotte in Werther, Mallika in Lakme, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Zita in Gianni Schicchi, and Mere Jeanne in Dialogues des Carmelites, among others. Ms. Philippi holds a M.M. degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a B.A. in Vocal Performance from the University of New Orleans. She has studied acting in New York and is an expert ethnic and ballroom dancer. Ms. Philippi’s vocal technique springs from her studies with Jane Randolph and tenor César Ulloa. She has also worked with such prominent artists as Brian Asawa, Sir Willard White, Yelena Kurdina, Kathryn Cathcart, Elizabeth Bachman and Corey Jamason. She has attended Opera North, Brevard Music Center, The Baroque Performance Institute and La Scuola di Michelangelo in Florence, Italy. Current projects include a multi-media collaboration with composer David Garner, and the local premieres of several other new works by Bay Area composers.



John Duykers is a prominent American tenor best known for his work in modern and contemporary opera. He is internationally known for his portrayal of more than 160 operatic characters. Opera enthusiasts know him best from his role of Chairman Mao in John Adam’s Nixon in China, the role of Older Galileo in Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei and the role of The Visitor in Glass’ In the Penal Colony. He has appeared with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Netherlands Opera, the Grand Theatre of Geneva, Frankfurt Opera, Opera de Marseille, the Canadian Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, San Diego Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. He sang the premiere of Glass’ White Raven, In the Penal Colony, and the title role of Galileo Galilei. The year 2010 brought performances of Nixon in China (Mao Tse Tung) with Long Beach Opera and Wozzeck (Captain) with Ensemble Parallele and the Astoria Music Festival. In 2011, John starred in First Look Sonoma’s production of Caliban Dreams. He can be heard on many recordings including the Grammy Award-winning CD of Nixon in China as well as the DVD of the Emmy Award-winning PBS Great Performances production.



Valentina Osinski's "golden mezzo" (San Francisco Examiner) has debuted with New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Midsummer Mozart, West Edge Opera, Eugene Opera, Opera San Jose and multiple other companies. Her voice has been recorded for multiple film and television soundtracks for Time/Life Warner and many others. A winner of the MacAllister Awards for Opera Singers and the Wishard A. Brown Marin Symphony Award, Valentina specializes in contemporary works, and in May of 2012 performed the world premiere of the new song cycle for mezzo, Continent’s End, by LA film composer Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli. In January of 2012, Valentina starred in the world premiere fire opera Machine at The Crucible, and the following April 2012, Ms. Osinski introduced her first original, solo work Hitting the High Notes to the stage, which was dubbed “a high point of the festival”. She participated in the world premiere of the new musical So Nice to Come Home To at Cinnabar Opera.



Melissa Weaver is co-founder of First Look Sonoma, a laboratory for new opera, with partner John Duykers. She recently premiered Caliban Dreams, with composer Clark Suprynowicz and librettist Amanda Moody, co-presented with Berkeley West Edge Opera. In the 1980’s, Weaver was a principal collaborator working with pioneering groups George Coates Performance Works and the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and she and Duykers formed Agape Performance Group in 1990, producing new works including Serial Murderess & D'Arc, Woman on Fire with Amanda Moody. She has collaborated with composers, including Erling Wold, Miguel Frasconi, and Jay Cloidt and has directed and designed performances in the U.S. and abroad. Weaver directed Rinde Eckert's Dry Land Divine at Dance Theater Workshop in NYC, The Gardening of Thomas D. at the Festival Creteil in Paris, Paul Dresher's The Tyrant at Opera Cleveland and Henze's El Cimarron, which was given the L.A. Times Beckmesser Award for Outstanding Contemporary Performance. She staged Carl Orff's Die Kluge at the Ojai Festival and directed Bitter Harvest, a Farmer's Oratorio, by Amanda Moody and composer Kurt Rohde for the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, both conducted by Kent Nagano. Weaver was a Resident Artist at California Institute of the Art's Opera from 2000-2004.




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