Opera North (Lebanon, NH)

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  A costumed actor, wearing a papier-mache donkey head, stands with one arm gesturing upward

Jonathan Moots, a member of the Youth Artist program, plays Bottom in Opera North's matinee performance of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream as part of A Festival of Shakespeare in Song. Photo by Carl S. Brandon

Opera North of Lebanon, New Hampshire, is northern New England's premier professional opera company, playing to more than 12,000 people annually at the historic Lebanon Opera House. In addition to its season performances, Opera North also provides the Young Artist Program, a training program for expert young singers and technical personnel; a school and community outreach program; master classes; and pre-performance lectures.

In FY 2004, Opera North received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support its 2004 summer program, A Festival of Shakespeare in Song. The festival featured five performances of Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet and four performances of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Nationally known artists, such as Eric Fennell and Leah Partridge, performed the major roles with Opera North's Young Artists in supporting roles. During the matinee performances, Young Artists were given the opportunity to perform in the principal roles. Opera North won seven OperaOnline awards for performances during the 2004 season, including one for a Young Artist.

In addition to the performances, Opera North toured scenes from the two operas as well as other Shakespeare works in music at a variety of venues throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. Preview "scenes" programs were presented in rural communities and underserved school districts in June 2004, and a symposium on Shakespeare's comedy and drama in song was held during the performance season.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)