By Sandy G. Torget
Opera North has partnered with local musicians, artists and nonprofits to stage the children’s opera Noye’s Fludde by British composer Benjamin Britten. To ensure that the entire community becomes involved in the process of staging an opera, Opera North will present “Building Noah’s Ark” on April 18, 2010 as part of its winter and spring adult lecture series, Always ON Sunday. Artistic Director Louis Burkot and Director of Productions Ron Luchsinger will discuss Britten’s Noye’s Fludde using illustrative examples from select members of the cast and a demonstration of the design and staging process. Audience members will have the opportunity to observe how an actual opera production is put together, literally section by section! Opera North is committed to intergenerational participation in its programming and strives to bring operatic excellence to the Upper Connecticut River Valley.
Opera North stands as the only full-time opera company in New Hampshire, offering productions and special events while making opera accessible for a new generation through its children’s outreach programs. Grand opera is staged in the beautifully situated municipality of Lebanon, New Hampshire.
For the 2010 season, Opera North is staging Puccini’s La bohème and Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the majestic Upper Valley of New England. Productions are presented at the historic 800 seat Lebanon Opera House. Known for superb acoustics and excellent views of the stage, this beautiful venue is the largest proscenium theater in the Upper Valley. Opera North’s nationally-acclaimed Young Artist Program features tomorrow’s stars in special mainstage performances during the summer production season. The exceptional operas are staged under the leadership of Burkot and Luchsinger. Opera North taps local talent in creating its children’s and adults’ choruses, which take the stage with experienced professional opera stars and developing young artists.
Opera North has initiated children’s programming that runs throughout the year, including multi-media Sing-Me-A-Story presentations in area schools and a children’s art contest based on the season’s operas. Opera North is exceptionally proud of the collaborative effort that has resulted in its production of the children’s opera Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten is a wonderful modern take on a classic story. In conjunction with the Upper Valley Music Center (“UVMC”), Opera North will stage this re-telling of the account of Noah’s Ark on May 16, 2010 at the Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Children take center stage portraying animals on the ark and make up the chorus, led by UVMC children’s choral director Becky Luce. Community kids ages six to fifteen will construct and enter the ark “two-by-two.” There are only three adult roles and the littlest performers are able to shine in this wonderful opera. Two presentations of the opera will be performed on May 16th at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm and will be offered free of charge to friends, family and opera lovers.
This production also involves another Lebanon arts organization, the AVA Gallery and Art Center, which is hosting a special session on April 10 for children to get hands-on experience in the development of a stage set. Noye’s Fludde involves local children in all aspects of the process of opera, including creating the ark during a free Community Arts Open Studio (CAOS) event at the AVA Gallery. They will be able to design and construct the building blocks of the ark. During the opera itself, these blocks will be carried on stage by the young singers, who will then build the ark in front of an amazed audience.
Noye’s Fludde also will incorporate members of the community in whom a love of opera and classical music was nurtured by Opera North. A former Opera North Young Artist, Jennifer Hansen, will sing one of the primary adult roles in Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, Noah’s wife. The role of Noah is being sung by Albert Craig, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire who takes the stage in an Opera North production for the first time. In addition, a youth orchestra guided by professional section leaders and joined by community players will perform as an integral part of the color of the piece. Fostering this type of enduring commitment to the cultural lifeblood of the region is a primary focus of Opera North’s outreach programs. This performance unites professional artists, developing musicians, and individuals who love to make music.
By Sandy G. Torget