New Opera West to Premiere ‘Having Guests for Dinner’ Micro-Opera

By Chris Ruel

On June 27th at 5:00 p.m. PDT (8:00 p.m. EDT), New Opera West (NOW) will premiere “Having Guests for Dinner” a virtual 16-minute “trash micro-opera” composed by Nicholas Bentz with libretto by Robert Feng.

The event is free, but RSVPs are required and can be reserved here. NOW will email a YouTube premiere link the day of the performance. Introducing the opera will be Opera West Co-Founders Emily Thebaut and Mark Lanz Weiser, joined by the composer and librettist. Thebaut, via email, explained the idea behind a trash opera. “Trash in this context means that it takes its inspiration from the movies and TV shows that are so bad, they’re good — the sort of art that encourages you not only to laugh with it but at it!”

“Having Guests for Dinner” tells the story of a young couple, Marcus and Laura, invited to a friend of a friend’s house for a meal of beef and lamb. Their host, Christoph, seems a bit odd and when their friends Scott and Andrew fail to arrive, the couple calls the meat on the menu into question. The opera features soprano Janet Szepei Todd as Laura, tenor Edmond Rodriguez as Marcus, and baritone Anthony Moreno as Christoph.

Originally scheduled as a live performance, along with other opera shorts written by composers around the Los Angeles area, “Having Guests for Dinner,” was adapted for online streaming due to the ongoing pandemic. As with many arts organizations, Covid-19 has forced companies large and small to create virtual experiences for audiences. The company is currently working on several projects, including an animated opera short.

NOW produces works that explore timely themes and stories that provide opportunities for diverse artists. Mezzo-soprano Emily Thebaut; opera and concert music composer Mark Lanz Weiser; and screenwriter, essayist, and opera librettist Amy Punt founded the Los Angeles-based company.