West Edge Opera Commission New Opera by Matthew Recio & Stephanie Fleischmann

By David Salazar

West Edge Opera has announced that it will commission “L’Autre Moi.”

The work for eight singers and 13 instruments tells the story of surrealist photographers Marcel Moore and Claude Cahun, female lovers, and Jewish activists who used their art as a means of empowering resistance in Nazi Germany.

The work is written by Matthew Recio and Stephanie Fleischmann and is set to premiere in August 2025.

“When I first came across the iconic image of Claude Cahun in boxing garb, with the words ‘Don’t kiss me, I’m in training’ inscribed across their chest, I felt I had found my hero,” Fleischmann, who has written librettos for “In a Grove,” “Dido,” and “Poppaea,” said in an official press statement. “Delving deeper into their body of work, which encompasses surrealist writing and collage as well as chameleonic feminist self-portraiture prefiguring Cindy Sherman by half a century, I was transfixed by their collaboration with lifelong partner Marcel Moore and the way these two women—camouflaged as a pair of cat-loving spinsters—harnessed their inquiry into gender and identity to implement a resistance on the Isle of Jersey during World War II that was perceived by the Germans as the work of a small army. Larger than life, infused with a dream logic and a heightened, angular theatricality, their story was crying out to be opera.’

Recio is currently working on commissioned compositions for Chicago Fringe Opera and  LYNX amplify series, among others.

Per the press statement, work on the opera will commence with a libretto workshop held in April, followed by a piano vocal workshop in April 2024. Then in the fall of 2024, audiences can look forward to a preview performance before its official premiere the following summer.

This is the latest opera that West Edge Opera has commissioned following Nathaniel Stookey and Isa Davis’ “Bulrusher” and Nicolas Lell Benavides and Marella Martin Koch’s “Dolores.” “L’Autre Moi” emerged as part of the company’s 2021 new opera residency program “Aperture;” it is the second opera from the Aperture program to receive a commission.