From Edna St. Vincent Millay to Edward Hopper, Cuban jazz to contemporary classical, new season holds something for everyone
STONINGTON -- Opera House Arts launches into spring with a full lineup of live music and theater beginning Memorial Day weekend with a special concert featuring rock singer-songwriter Valerie Orth and the island's own Mike Billings. The Sunday, May 26 concert drives a highly diverse 14th summer season for OHA, one that includes stunningly original theatrical and dance interpretations of New England artists including Edna St. Vincent Millay and Edward Hopper, and ranges from some of North America's best indy music to the returns of soprano Suzanne Nance and jazz pianist Fred Hersch and a series of both traditional and contemporary classical music at the Burnt Cove Church. All tickets can be purchased at the Opera House box office, corner of Main and School streets and at www.operahousearts.org.
"OHA's focus is on making new theater, right here in Maine -- we don't import shows ready-made," said Executive Director Linda Nelson. "Even a classic such as Shakespeare's Cymbeline, in July, is a production we create, with our own distinctive take and original musical score, here in Stonington."
Responding to audience input, in addition to live theater and dance, OHA is offering a greater number of concerts over the next six months than in previous seasons. Following closely on Orth, is Gypsophilia, the young, seven-piece Django Reinhardt-inspired ensemble from Halifax, Canada known for their killer live shows. June's "P.S., I Love Music," hosted by Grammy-winning pianist Paul Sullivan, will feature Maine's most effervescent soprano and MPBN radio host and music director Suzanne Nance, who wowed island audiences in 2012. Anchoring August is the legendary Jonathan Edwards on August 24.
OHA is also bringing a chamber music series to the Burnt Cove Church, highlighted by a solo appearance by violinist Johnny Gandelsman of the Grammy-nominated Brooklyn Rider and featuring the eclectic work of Heidi Powell and Richard Hsu in numerous combinations. Two Opera House favorites -- Samba Meets Jazz (July 23) and Guitar Masters (August 11) -- provide context for new, up- and-coming sensations such as indie singer-songwriter Adrien Reju (July 28), Juliet and the Lonesome Rodeos (August 17), and Montana Skies (September 14).
OHA's 2013 summer season will include:
"P.S., I Love Music" (June 22): Pianist and composer Paul Sullivan returns with his remarkable glimpse into the lives of his musical friends, including soprano and MPBN host Suzanne Nance, percussionist and Julliard School faculty member Gordon Gottlieb, and pianist and violinist Jessica Chen.
The Millay Sisters, A Cabaret (July 5-7, July 12-14): A live cabaret setting, including open bar, in the Burnt Cove Church creates a unique atmosphere for this live musical portrait of the three talented sisters from Camden -- Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna, who preferred to be called Vincent, and her sisters Norma and Kathleen. With a special guest appearance by award-winning biographer Nancy Milford, author of "Zelda," a biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, and "Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay."
Shakespeare in Stonington: Cymbeline (July 12-22). Directed by Julia Whitworth and with original music by composer Philip Owen this Stonington Opera House take on one of Shakespeare's late, great romances and "problem plays" -- in which the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus confronts the tensions of a changing world, potentially losing both kingdom and daughter.
The 13th annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival (August 1-3) featuring Cuban saxophonist and chekere player Yosvany Terry and his Quintet on Friday, August 2 (with George Stevens Academy's Lucy and the Diamonds combo opening) and pianist Fred Hersch (with former Deer Isle-Stonington resident Noel Brennan opening) Saturday, August 3.
"Voyeur and Under the Skin," Bridgman/Packer Dance (August 13- 18). An unusual, evocative and sophisticated integration of dance and video, set in an installation inspired by the work of artist Edward Hopper. Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Guggenheim Fellows in Choreography, are acclaimed for their innovative integration of choreography and video technology that explodes the partnering form into a magically populated stage where image and reality collide.
Classical in the Church (June 25-August 20): a series of five different chamber music concerts in the elegant, historic setting of the 1870 Burnt Cove Church. Opening with The Hancock Quartet, lead by Heidi Powell and Richard Hsu,performing string quartets by Beethoven and Mendelssohn and duet for violin and cello by contemporary composer William Bolcolm and including Brooklyn Rider's Johnny Gandelsman on July 9.
Opera House Arts is one of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists. The Opera House, part of the Maine Performs network, has become a noted destination for performance in Maine. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House converted to true digital cinema in March 2013 and is open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film and exciting original events unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine.
To purchase tickets online, or for more information, visit www.operahousearts.org. Programs sell out and advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended. Advance tickets are not available for movies or the "Live for $5!" Wednesday night family series. The Opera House Box Office is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; and from 1 p.m. until the time of the scheduled shows on Friday and Saturday.
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