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Nouveau Opera at Yerba Buena

Wozzeck doesn't look, sound, or feel like your standard opera o' buxom women in blonde braids and Viking helmets. Thought to be the first avant garde opera of the 20th century and a classic example of atonality, Wozzeck is based on the true story of a man (named Wozzeck - title explained) who was accused of killing his mistress in 1821 and publicly executed for the crime three years later.

Based on a play by Georg Büchner, Wozzeck is rooted as much in theater as in opera. Left inconveniently incomplete at his death in 1837, the play languished until Alban Berg took the disordered scenes and set Büchner's words to music during the first world war. Ensemble Parallele, San Francisco's innovative contemporary opera company, tackles this historically rich production with noted tenor John Dukers and former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow baritone Bojan Knezevic singing the German score. You get English supertitles so you don't have to rely on facial expression and spotty ESP to suss out the plot. Staged with multi-media inspired by German silent films of the 1920s, this intensely-paced tale of love and alienation is opera for people who don't do opera.

Jan 30-31 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Information at www.ensembleparallele.com.