Obituary: Aspen Music Festival Opera Program Director Edward Berkeley Dies at 76By Francisco Salazar
On July 18, Aspen Music Festival and School opera program director Edward Berkeley died unexpectedly.
The 76-year-old was found unresponsive by a colleague at home in Aspen according to the Aspen Police Department and the Pitkin County Coroner’s office. No cause of death was determined at this time.
The news came hours before the opening night performance of “The Magic Flute,” which Berkeley had directed at the Aspen Music Festival for its 40th edition. Audience members heard the news at the stage at the Benedict Music Tent while the cast and orchestra learned backstage 15 minutes before they were to perform.
In a statement, Music Fest president and CEO Alan Fletcher said Saturday, “The entire cast, orchestra, and AMFS artist-faculty and staff are channeling their emotion into the performance tonight that we are dedicating to him, and it is an emotional moment.”
Berkeley was born in New York City and became the artistic director of the Willow Cabin Theater Company and director of the Aspen Opera Theater Center where he directed classics and championed new operas including Cavalli’s “Eliogabalo” and “Giasone” and new works by Bright Sheng, Augusta Read Thomas, Michael Torke, Mark-Anthony Turnage, H.K. Gruber, and Bernard Rand.
He also directed the New York premieres of plays by Derek Walcott, Israel Horovitz, Terence McNally, Leonard Melfi, Louise Page, and Tennessee Williams. He also directed at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Library of Congress, Williamstown Theater Festival, Old Globe Theater, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, and Spoleto and Ravinia festivals. Most notably he directed the Tony-nominated revival of the play “Wilder, Wilder, Wilder” in 1993.
Berkeley also taught Shakespeare at the Circle in the Square Theater School and Pace University. He was also a guest faculty for the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and was a guest professor at Carleton College, Princeton University, and Williams College. He became a faculty member of the Juilliard School in 1987.