Ash Lawn Opera’s MADAMA BUTTERFLY flies high

“Get your hankies out,” warned Michele Krisel, Artistic Director of the Ash Lawn Opera, at the end of her curtain speech Sunday afternoon. “It is never too early to start crying during Madama Butterfly.” And she was right.  By the last ten minutes of the performance sniffles could be heard from all over the audience (including several from yours truly).

Once again Krisel and her hand picked artistic team have managed to pull off a champagne experience on a beer budget with this production.  Charles Murdock Lucas’ set is simple yet effective in depicting Cio-Cio San’s Japanese house of paper in which this story of clashing cultures is set. Lauren Gaston’s costumes are effective in developing a contrast between the sumptuous softness of the geishas and the apparent tastelessness of Pinkerton’s American wife.  And Dan Ragazzi’s minimalist direction allows the story to flow through the music- as it should. (I particularly enjoyed his use of ninja’s that flow on and off the set with necessary props.)

Krisel also knows how to cast a show to optimal effect. Pinkerton as played by Jason Slayden is just the kind of handsome devil that could break any girl’s heart.  But the star of this show is clearly Eleni Calenos who plays Butterfly.  Calenos puts forth a beautiful voice and a heart piercing dramatic performance as the naively trusting girl. She had the audience in the palm of her hand in her final tragic aria, To Die With Honor.

If you go, remember to bring tissues.  It is a truly beautiful tragic tale.

Photo by Natalie Krovetz

Photo by Natalie Krovetz

Click here for more information.

The Magic Flute- Highlights

Despite a week of power outages and an un-expected heat wave which rendered humid camping like conditions for guest -housed artists and a four day shut down on set building, Ash Lawn Operas production of THE MAGIC FLUTE turned out to be a stunning testament to the high level of artistic merit the company strives to achieve.  It was magical, entertaining and frankly AWE -SOME!

It was especially fun for me as I had spent hours interviewing staff and artists,  hanging out at rehearsals, trying on costumes and even hosting two of the imported orchestra’s musicians that needed emergency shelter due to a lack of electricity and running water at their host home.  (Click here to link to the story I wrote for C-VILLE.)

The Magritte inspired, John Pollard designed, set of giant hanging frames and light poles entwined with vines was stunning under Stevie Agnew’s flawless lighting and well used by Stage Director, Dan Ragazzi, who created dynamic visuals and the occasional intended joke through adept blocking.

Nuria Carrasco’s fantastical costume designs served to dress the otherwise sparse stage and allow the audience to focus on the performers via lots of sparkly details. Most stunning was her creation for Emily Hindrich’s Queen of the Night, a half black and half white gown made as though halves of two different dresses were sewn together.  The visual result was one person walking onto the set and another walking off.  It was totally cool and completely fitting for Hindrich’s INCREDIBLE singing.  The audience was boondoggled by her amazing ability to sing that crazy coloratura trill and staccato, nailing the high notes with a power equal to a train whistle ( but 1000 times prettier) and giving out equally strong hot chocolatey lower ones.  She ROCKED the house illiciting loud applause and bravo cheers from the audience.  (I heard at least a dozen people marveling over her performance as I left the theater.- Way to go Em!)

Margie Jervis’ clever Wild Animal Costumes worn by local children added to the fantastical feel reminiscent of Julie Taymore’s Lion King animals but on a black and white and much smaller scale.  Particularly marvelous were the two man rhino and the birds.

Other highlight performances were : Jennifer Zetlan as Pamina – her singing voice as clear and true as Pamina’s love for Tamino, Kevin Thompson’s stately Sarastro, David Portillo’s lovely tenor Tomino, and yummiliscious Craig Verm’s Papageno.  Verm so obviously loves what he does for a living it simply exudes that energy in  his performance making it clear that he is not only a fabulous singer but a crowd pleasing actor as well.  He could easily have a career in film, television, radio (but that would be a waste of his good looks) or stage (dramatic or musical theater).

Other notable performances were David Portillo’s steadfast Tamino, Jennifer Zetlan’s pure -voiced and well acted Pamina, Kevin Thompson’s booming bass and regal presence as Sarastro and Emma-Grace Dunbar’s as Papagena.  I must admit, I was jealous (along with every other woman and gay man in the audience) of Dunbar who got to wear the charmingly  flirtatious costume I tried on during my story research PLUS she got to sing a duet with Verm with his arm around her waist. “Sigh.” Well that is all part of the joy of fantasy after all.

THE MAGIC FLUTE  was so well done that I find myself actually looking forward to ALO’s production of THE MUSIC MAN (not my favorite musical) which opens July 29th at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville.

For more info click here.

 

Me in Nuria Carrasco’s costume design for Papagena in Ash Lawn Opera’s production of THE MAGIC FLUTE.

Ash Lawn Opera: Krisel Raises the Bar

 

 

I am ecstatic to share my first cover story with you today.  It is about the Ash Lawn Opera Company here in gorgeous Charlottesville, Virginia.

I had a great time researching this story.  I re-discovered my of the processes involved in live production (I studied theatre production at Boston University , acted, danced and sang in many shows and produced some live shows  including the World Premier of Bill C. Davis’, AUSTIN’S BRIDGE which starred Jeremy Jordan who was nominated this year for a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical) and deepened my admiration and adoration of opera.

If you are anywhere near Charlottesville when Ash Lawn Opera is performing this summer or you love opera and want to hear some of the top rising stars of opera sing for cheap (like $35.00 a ticket- seriously) I strongly suggest you go see them.

Click here for a link to the story. (or you can read it below)

Click here for more information on Ash Lawn Opera.

Click here for ticket information.

Thanks for reading!

Mary

Issue #24.28 :: 07/10/2012 – 07/16/2012
Ash Lawn Opera draws big-city talent to a regional stage

The people’s opera

BY MARY BURRUSS

 

Forty-four local children will perform in Ash Lawn Opera’s 2012 production season. Six of them are pictured wearing Margie Jervis-designed wild animal constumes during a recent rehearsal of The Magic Flute at Charlottesville High School’s black box theater. (Photo by John Robinson)

The air-conditioned stillness of the black box theatre at Charlottesville High School is a refreshing contrast to the oppressive summer heat outside. As I enter the rehearsal space for the Ash Lawn Opera Festival’s opener, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), a small entourage of handlers greet me and escort me to my seat. It takes my eyes a minute to adjust to the indoor lighting. Members of the cast and production team–a group that includes expats from Korea, Russia, and Colombia—take their seats in the audience as Dan Rigazzi, the stage director, addresses the group. The electric energy of the talented, young artists is palpable, and I feel a giddy sense of privilege at being able to spend the next few hours watching a performance in its first phase of incubation, weeks before the final production will reach the stage on opening night.

Rigazzi works at The Metropolitan Opera in New York as an assistant stage director for re-mounted shows, which means that at one of the premier stages in the world, his job is to render nearly exact copies of productions that have been performed before. In this modest high school theater you can feel his hunger to put his own artistic stamp on a classic opera. He begins his inaugural rehearsal speech with a classic director’s trick, using the work of an inspirational artist (in this case Rene Magritte) as a window into his creative vision for the show.

“Magritte is a master of the marvelous,” he says. “His work is filled with portals. Through these portals, he takes us from our reality into the world of dreams.”

Rigazzi moves from a conceptual notion to concrete prerogatives—a set design of floating frames entwined with vines suggests Magritte’s benevolent surrealism. There are no hundred thousand dollar sets here. The idea of entering a magical world through a picture frame doorway is visually effective and relatively inexpensive.

This is the goal of the Ash Lawn Opera, as expressed by general director, Michelle Krisel: to produce high quality opera on a comparatively minuscule budget. The opera is thriving despite the obvious challenge of an economic climate that has many companies struggling to survive. The secret to the ALO’s success, according to Krisel, is a rare combination of high quality local and imported talent and the tireless efforts of the Charlottesville community.

If you ask her board members, the secret is Krisel’s vision, enthusiasm, and big-league connections. Whatever it is (likely all of the above), Ash Lawn Opera is singular testimony to Charlottesville’s defining juxtaposition: where small town charm meets big city sophistication.

 

Issue #24.28 :: 07/10/2012 – 07/16/2012
Ash Lawn Opera draws big-city talent to a regional stage

The people’s opera

BY MARY BURRUSS

The air-conditioned stillness of the black box theatre at Charlottesville High School is a refreshing contrast to the oppressive summer heat outside. As I enter the rehearsal space for the Ash Lawn Opera Festival’s opener, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), a small entourage of handlers greet me and escort me to my seat. It takes my eyes a minute to adjust to the indoor lighting. Members of the cast and production team–a group that inclues expats from Korea, Russia, and Colombia—take their seats in the audience as Dan Rigazzi, the stage director, addresses the group. The electric energy of the talented, young artists is palpable, and I feel a giddy sense of privilege at being able to spend the next few hours watching a performance in its first phase of incubation, weeks before the final production will reach the stage on opening night.

Rigazzi works at The Metropolitan Opera in New York as an assistant stage director for re-mounted shows, which means that at one of the premier stages in the world, his job is to render nearly exact copies of productions that have been performed before. In this modest high school theater you can feel his hunger to put his own artistic stamp on a classic opera. He begins his inaugural rehearsal speech with a classic director’s trick, using the work of an inspirational artist (in this case Rene Magritte) as a window into his creative vision for the show.

“Magritte is a master of the marvelous,” he says. “His work is filled with portals. Through these portals, he takes us from our reality into the world of dreams.”

Rigazzi moves from a conceptual notion to concrete prerogatives—a set design of floating frames entwined with vines suggests Magritte’s benevolent surrealism. There are no hundred thousand dollar sets here. The idea of entering a magical world through a picture frame doorway is visually effective and relatively inexpensive.

This is the goal of the Ash Lawn Opera, as expressed by general director, Michelle Krisel: to produce high quality opera on a comparatively minuscule budget. The opera is thriving despite the obvious challenge of an economic climate that has many companies struggling to survive. The secret to the ALO’s success, according to Krisel, is a rare combination of high quality local and imported talent and the tireless efforts of the Charlottesville community.

If you ask her board members, the secret is Krisel’s vision, enthusiasm, and big-league connections. Whatever it is (likely all of the above), Ash Lawn Opera is singular testimony to Charlottesville’s defining juxtaposition: where small town charm meets big city sophistication.

 

Ash Lawn Opera’s general director, Michelle Krisel, who served as Placido Domingo’s assistant and has over 40 years of opera experience, has raised the festival’s profile by luring top national talents to its new stage at the Paramount Theater. (Photo by John Robinson)
Madame director
Michelle Krisel was hooked early, listening to Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on the family car radio as her mother ran errands in Los Angeles.

“Something about it thrilled me, although I had no idea what the people were singing about,” Krisel said. “There was so much energy and passion and excitement that when it was time to get out of the car, I would ask if I could stay and continue to listen.”

She began her professional career as a kid, playing piano for a ballet school where she learned she could inspire people to do beautiful things and get paid for it. Fluent in French by middle school, Krisel knew she had two great loves, language and music.

“I wanted to combine music with language but I didn’t know how,” she said.

A member of one of the first classes of women at Yale, Krisel took a year off to attend the Hochschule fur Musik in Vienna, where she witnessed live opera for the first time. She was awed.

“Opera has not only the acting but the singing, the chorus, the dancers, the set, the costumes, the orchestra…it’s the most complex of the performing arts,” she said. “I think of it as the most democratic art form because there is something for everybody. It’s full of amazing stories that make you either laugh or cry.”

She went on to study piano in Paris and via a lucky connection, landed an internship at the Paris Opera. She deduced that the people making artistic decisions were vocal coaches and accompanists and saw a way to combine her knowledge of language, affinity for analyzing music, and love of opera to make a career. She became a vocal coach and spent the next decade as an assistant conductor, working in opera houses all over the world.

In 1985, she returned to her hometown to work with the newly formed L.A. Opera. During a production of Otello she met Placido Domingo and decided that after working with “The best singer/musician of our time” she needed to rethink her life. She started a family and worked as a freelance music writer and vocal coach until she landed a job in New York City with Thea Dispeker’s agency as an artist representative for its European division managing the careers of opera singers and conductors.

Krisel ran her own agency for a while, then got a call from Domingo asking if she would like to work as his assistant at the Washington National Opera. In 1996, she moved with her family from New York City to Washington, D.C., and started what she describes as the experience of a lifetime. Working as special assistant to Domingo, she designed and led the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and oversaw his philanthropic education and outreach pursuits. Having learned the opera business, Krisel got the chance to interact with its fan base.

When she arrived in Charlottesville in 2010 to take over at Ash Lawn Opera, Krisel brought the trade experience that has made her a regular panelist on the Metropolitan Opera’s Opera Quiz, which takes place during intermission on broadcasts, but she also brought the know-how to build community programming.

“ALO is a hybrid company. It is the high end of the industry combined with the local community, the best of both put together,” she said.

Krisel feels that education is the key to sustaining and nurturing the company’s relationship with the community. Ash Lawn Opera has had an education program for 18 years, which Krisel has tweaked to be more like the ones she created for WNO. She added a family-friendly short program to appeal to newbies of all ages (this year, Mozart’s Magic Piccolo). She hired D.C.-based teaching artist Mary Gresock to run The Artists in Residence program, which introduces children ages 5 to 15 to the world of opera through costumes, character development, and singing exercises. And she’s expanded the reach of the Young Artist Program, which engages 12 to 13 young artists from all over the country to sing in short program performances at the Louisa Performing Arts Center, the Wintergreen Music Festival, and various smaller events. She has also revamped a special program for educators called Opera Connects for Teachers and upgraded KidsFest, which brings children enrolled in summer programs offered by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the local Boys & Girls Clubs to the final dress rehearsal of an opera.

The feedback?

“Michelle has brought an incredible amount of energy from the standpoint of getting out in the community and being an ambassador for Ash Lawn,” said board member Pat Davis.

 

Nuria Carrasco, the Spanish-born costume designer for Ash Lawn Opera’s production of The Magic Flute, created a 7’-plus outfit for Emily Hindrichs, the Queen of the Night. Carrasco cut a deal with a costume house in Miami to keep the costs down and the wow factor high. (Photo by John Robinson)
Talent search
“Michelle is bringing the greatest young singers in the world to Charlottesville,” said Steven Jarvi, the conductor of ALO’s The Magic Flute and a veteran of the Kansas City Symphony and the New World Symphony in Miami Beach. “These are people that I will work with for the rest of my life and I promise you will hear their names again and again… at the Met and around the world.”

Bass singer Brian Kontes, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2009-10 season in the acclaimed William Kentridge production of Shostakovich’s The Nose, is returning this summer to sing the role of Der Sprecher in The Magic Flute. Krisel found Kontes through a personal/professional friendship with one of his managers, Angela Maria Blasi, whom she knew from her days as a pianist.

“The difference between Ash Lawn Festival Opera and most regional houses is how well it functions and the extremely high level of artists they bring to the stage,” explained Kontes. “Not only are the singers amazing, but the entire production team is of the highest quality.”
ALO has become a place people use to kickstart their careers.

“Young singers not only have the chance to sing and cover roles for the first time, but they get to work with more established singers, conductors, and directors who have come to prepare new operas for themselves as well,” Kontes said. “It is at festival opera companies where lifetime professional relationships are established.”

About half of the principal singers come to ALO to learn a new role; the other half come for the thrill of working with young talent in a fun setting.

Back in CHS’s black box a week into rehearsals, the show’s metamorphosis from script to stage is well underway. Rigazzi’s crisp, clear stage direction is almost alarming in contrast to the rich, free-flowing style of Jarvi’s musical direction, but the cast is clearly comfortable with the dynamic tension. Professional opera is a serious world, but Krisel wants the Ash Lawn Opera to be a playground for emerging talent.

“I enjoy the history and nature of the area, but first and foremost it is the musical fun factor that makes ALO so great,” Jarvi said. “We are having a blast and it’s an environment that is very creative, open, and enjoyable.”

Craig Verm (Papageno) playfully sticks his tongue out at David Portillo (Tamino) across the stage, while Rigazzi confers with Kontes. Dominating the set in stature and voice is bass Kevin Thompson, who plays Sarastro. It is a good thing Thompson is an opera singer because, at 6’5″, he is physically too big to look normal on a traditional stage. But here he looks great. Opera is, after all, musical theater on steroids.

The singers use sotto voce (soft voices) during staging, to save their voices for performing, but the quality of their singing is still readily apparent. The mood of the music—the tone and timing—come together, and while I don’t speak German, I get the gist of the story.
“The first full music rehearsal we had with all the principals was an apocalyptic moment,” said Krisel. “They are a dream team, the quality of their voices surpassing anything I could imagine. They were so good.”

When the cast finally does sing in full voice during the rehearsal, with only piano accompaniment, I regret that I have chosen another career. Why couldn’t I have run away to join the opera like other people join the circus?

Making magic
Later in the day, I sit in a makeshift fitting room at the Ash Lawn offices (too expensive to rent a designated space elsewhere), eavesdropping on an exchange of costume war stories between Emily Hindrichs, who came from Boston to play the Queen of the Night for the 10th time, and her “cover,” or understudy, Gillian Hollis.

“Always ask if there are stairs and how many, if the stage is raked and what type of shoes you will be wearing,” says Hindrichs, who is majestic in her blue and white floor-length cape and peacock feather headdress.

Costumes are an integral part of opera’s over-the-top experience. They help transform the performer from her everyday self into her character, visually transporting the audience from real life into a fantasy land.

“Costume, hair, and makeup day is my favorite day because I get to see how the audience will see me,” Hindrichs said.

All of designer Nuria Carrasco’s costumes are handmade and my experience in the Fashion District tells me they cost considerably more than the $3,000 the budget affords.

“I had to be creative and find a way to make my designs happen despite the money,” said Carrasco, a petite powerhouse from Spain with a killer sense of style. “So I made a deal with a costume house in Miami, so we can make really beautiful costumes for this show but not have to pay for the extra cost.”

This is the kind of out-of the-box thinking that makes the astonishing level of quality in the opera’s production elements possible.

“The half dark and half white design implies the yin yang of good and bad in all of us,” explains Carrasco, as she admires Hindrichs in her 7′-plus costume. A special arrangement has been made for her to don the headgear in the wings due to architectural obstacles between the dressing room and the stage.

From field to stage: A brief history of Ash Lawn Opera
Founded by Priscilla and David Little in 1978, the Ash Lawn Opera Festival started out as a way for a small group of local artists to perform baroque operas with piano accompaniment in the beautiful boxwood gardens at Ash Lawn-Highland, the former home of President James Monroe. Patrons drank in the relaxed, bucolic atmosphere, picnicking under a canopy of aged trees and stretching out blankets on the manicured lawn as the music of Mozart or Vivaldi drifted through the air.

In the mid-1980s, the Littles invited out-of-town singers to perform with a handful of local musicians. Community members were asked to house the guest artists, and thus the tradition of host families began. Pat Davis, a board member, was an accompanist during those early days, and she fondly recalled the challenges of performing al fresco: “We performed through the most horrendous storms, the lightning, the cows mooing, the peacocks shrieking. It would rain and we would push the up-right piano across the lawn through the mud to a tent.” Only once, according to Davis, was a show cancelled, because the piano filled up with rain water, preventing the internal hammers from striking the chords. Despite occasional weather issues, the outdoor experience of community-supported opera at Ash Lawn-Highland swiftly became a summer highlight in Central Virginia.

In 1987, Judy Walker started her 23-year run as general director and began importing conductors and small orchestras. Walker raised the profile of the company, transforming its stage into a proving ground for young talent. With the support of The College of William and Mary (the owner of Ash Lawn-Highland) the company expanded, producing two operas and a standard musical each year while simultaneously developing educational and outreach programs.

In 2002, The Ash Lawn Opera Festival Foundation became a registered nonprofit, separated from William and Mary and defined its mission: “To produce high quality opera and musicals at affordable prices; to provide training opportunities and experience for young artists and interns; to provide educational nourishment for all sectors of the community; and to enrich the cultural vitality and quality of life in Virginia.”
While the reorganization signalled the company’s ambition, the challenges of outdoor performance were proving problematic. At one point, the singers requested that the vocally competitive peacocks, a hallmark of the Ash Lawn-Highland estate, be rounded up and sent away for the summer. An editorial in a local paper instigated public outcry, and the peacocks were reinstated, but the tension between the ever improving artistic quality of the production and the public’s fondness for the venue’s ambiance became apparent.

“The performances at Ash Lawn were fun and enjoyable, but you have that open space and the voices, which are lovely, have to fill the universe rather than the theater,” explained Allen Hench, a first year ALO board member and veteran guest-artist host.

After years of debating the possibility of building a performance structure at Ash Lawn-Highland came to nothing, the ALO board voted to leave the company’s pastoral home and relocate to the Paramount Theater in 2009. Walker retired the next year, leaving the opera poised for growth but yet to establish its identity in a new home. The move furnished resources unavailable at Ash Lawn-Highland—a stage with a proscenium arch, an orchestra pit, a backstage area, and professional lighting—signalling the company’s intent to move beyond its image as a regional, outdoor festival opera. Michelle Krisel was hired as general director in 2010 and oversaw her first season of production last year.—Mary Burruss

Krisel suggests I try on a costume to get the feel of their transformational power and gain a sense of Carrasco’s genius. Carrasco selects Papagena’s dress, the most fun of the women’s costumes, complete with feather-lined mid-length tulle skirt with a plumed bustle and elaborately hand-decorated bodice. It is every girl’s fantasy and the favorite costume amongst the costume crew. Though it is fairly small, the outfit is heavy, built more like a tank than a garment.

Opera costumes require more support than traditional theatrical costumes because the singers must be able to breathe deeply into their diaphragms to generate remarkable volume. Papagena’s costume is literally constructed on a paneled, boned corset to keep the bodice in place while singer Emma-Grace Dunbar does her thing.

I slip into it and it fits as though it were made for me. I stand a little straighter, my body recalling its dance training. Carrasco adorns my head with a fanciful bird-beak headdress and invites me to slide my feet into whimsical feathered shoes. The effect is intoxicating. I am 6 years old again, prettied and poised, waiting in the wings before my first dance recital. Hindrichs, recognizing the look in my eyes, tells me what it feels like to walk on stage wearing something like that.

“It’s like you’re coming out of the tunnel at the Super Bowl! It’s like nothing else,” she says.
Recalling her own fascination with opera as a child, Krisel longs to open the world of opera to as many children as possible. Out of the 66 local artists involved in Ash Lawn Opera’s 2012 season, 44 are children.

Through a goof-up in last summer’s production of The King and I, Katherine Kahler, a third grader at St. Anne’s-Belfield, learned that in show business, sometimes you just have to go with the flow. During the King’s dramatic death scene, there was an awkward delay in which the leads, Elizabeth Roberts and Seth Carico, were forced to ad-lib lines.

“The stage manager forgot to cue the Kid Wrangler and everybody all ran out and they were all way faster than me,” Kahler said.

She had to decide whether to remain off stage or go on out and do her part.

“I was standing backstage and knew I had to go out there so (after a while) I just ran out and got in my bowing position,” she said, adding that the late arrival instigated welcome laughter from the audience during a rather emotional point in the show.

Most opera singers are not living a dream they identified as children.

“The profession chooses you,” said Verm.

Verm, whose movie star good looks (check him out on barihunks.com, a blog featuring the sexiest baritones in opera) and dreamy rendition of “Some Enchanted Evening” coaxed girlish sighs from grown women during a recent fundraiser, had dreams of being a concert pianist, but gave it up due to an injury. Seeking a musical outlet, he tried singing and a voice teacher suggested he give opera a go.

Hindrichs has a similar story. Planning to teach music, she was discovered after deciding she should audition in order to explain the process to her students.

“I wouldn’t even say it was a choice,” Hindrichs said. “It was sort of an inescapable path that opened up in front of me.”

One day she was a doctoral student and the next she was on a plane to London to sing with the English National Opera. When Hindrichs sings, it is apparent why she was hired to deliver the difficult coloratura soprano part of the “Queen of the Night.” Coloratura (yes, I admit I looked it up) is very fancy singing with trills and great leaps, which requires a high level of skill to deliver effectively.

Krisel beams as she watches Hindrichs.

“Not only can Emily do the high F’s and the coloratura, so that the high notes are like stars in the sky, she also has a warm womanly beautiful voice,” Krisel said. “So you hear this warm and womanly middle, then those fireworks. You just get the whole package with her voice.”

And I get the same sense hanging around Krisel. She’s the full monty.

“Her dream is to make Charlottesville a destination for people who love opera,” said Davis, who hopes the company will eventually produce a concert opera with the local symphony and expand to a year-round performance schedule.

Allen Hench, first-year board member and a veteran guest-artist host, thinks that kind of grand vision is possible.

“This community is fertile ground for this kind of thing,” said Hench. “There are a lot of folks here who love classical music and opera. There is interest in attendance and in financial support.”

Krisel, like Magritte, hopes we will cross over into the world she discovered as a child and then learned to create as an adult. The same place I went for the briefest moment in a peacock dress: the opera.

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