The Day The Circus/Opera Came To Town
Opera North opened under the Big Top at the Blow-Me-Down Farm in Cornish NH this weekend with "Singers and Swingers," a production that combined circus artists and opera singers. Upper Valley patrons know a good thing when they see it. Four performances were close to or completely sold out for this unlikely but inspired idea. Think Cirque de Soleil, but with live operatic performances (including an on-site orchestra led by Louis Burkot) and a little West Side Story (to honor Leonard Bernstein) thrown in as a final note.
Saturday afternoon's performance was alive with an age-diverse audience from toddlers to elders. Circus aerialists, clowns, and jugglers of hats, balls and red umbrellas interpreted music and arias while sharing the stage with, or swaying above, the opera singers. Sam Ferlo, of last year's Cirque Us, engaged the audience with his gentle clown skills before his killer aerial performance on the straps toward the end of the show.
Sam Ferlo, just before he balanced that ladder on his chin. Louis Burkot, left.
Under the direction of Evans Haile, Opera North has partnered with the National Park Service to bring the performing arts to this riverside property that once hosted artists of the historic Cornish Colony, including Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Haile's particular mission is to promote opera by bringing it to venues other than opera houses. In its 36th year, Opera North continues to stage full productions, including this year's Tales of Hoffman and Barber of Seville, at the Lebanon Opera House as part of its Summer 2018 season. But places where you just might bump into opera have been expanding. If you missed “Singers and Swingers,” don't despair. There are several opportunities to hear the proverbial lady (and gent) sing, most of them in the Upper Valley and starting next weekend, July 20:
July 20: Musical Soirée. Highland Center for the Arts, Greensboro VT
July 21: Artist Showcase. Lebanon United Methodist Church, Lebanon NH
July 22: Concert at The Fells, Newbury VT
July 26: Lake Sunapee Musical Dinner Cruise, Sunapee NH
Fully-staged productions, with ticketed VIP opening night receptions at Colburn Park, at the Lebanon Opera House in Lebanon NH are:
Tales of Hoffman: August 3, 8, 10, 12
Barber of Seville: August 5, 9, 11, 14
For tickets and more information, go to Opera North's website by clicking here.
(Cassady Rose Bonjo on trapeze, top photo. Photo just above: Ashley Puenner, mezzo soprano, Jacob Rivera, tenor, Emily Misch, soprano )
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