NARROWSBURG, NY — I was exposed to the world of opera at an early age. Inspired by the grandeur and incredible music, I became a fan quickly, and remain so to this day. So I was delighted to discover, after moving to the region, that the Delaware Valley Opera (DVO) and a company of talented, driven professionals is dedicated to presenting quality productions right here in the Upper Delaware region.
I had heard that there was new blood infusing the company with excitement, and I decided to start my researches by checking out the website. (delawarevalleyopera.org). I found out, among other things, that the DVO is a nonprofit regional professional opera company that will celebrate its Silver Anniversary in 2011, and that it is a Professional Company member of Opera America. With that background under my belt, it was time to sit down with DVO general manager Carol Castel to get an insider’s view on what the company is doing and where it is heading.
“We’re turning a corner,” Castel said. “It’s time to get back to our roots: the community.
“A lot of people don’t realize that the DVO is their company, not an exclusive club. Whether you’re an opera fan or not, our not-for-profit company is for everyone. Our focus this year is community involvement, and we’re very excited to share this experience with the seasoned opera fan, as well as those who have yet to explore what we have to offer.”
Branching out is clearly key to the mission of the DVO. Staging performances throughout the region will give the company an opportunity to diversify and reach more audiences, including students who have yet to be exposed to this art form. The ambitious calendar includes upcoming shows at the Tusten Theater in Narrowsburg, Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington and Wallenpaupack High School in Hawley, PA, among others.
“Both Sullivan West and Wallenpaupack house gorgeous, state-of-the-art, air conditioned theatres,” Castel told me over breakfast. “Our communities have paid dearly for these facilities and we want to celebrate the DVO’s ‘dawning of a new day’ by bringing the opera out into the public in a way we have not explored in the past.”
With a calendar of events that includes Tchaikovskys’ “Eugene Onegin” (currently running), Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixer of Love” (the first two weekends in August), a “Young Singers of the Valley” concert and, for the first time joining up with the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (www.bethelwoodscenter.org ), an upcoming winter holiday performance of “Hansel and Gretel,” these folks are busy.
Getting down to basics, I asked, “What is opera?” “No more than musical theatre from another country,” Castel replied. “Being able to present foreign language productions with ‘supertitles’ [English translation on the big screen], this makes the material really accessible to everyone—not to mention the music.
“This 25th anniversary gives the DVO an opportunity to share new beginnings, ushering in a new era, if you will, while honoring the magnificent history of the DVO.”
Like the proverbial “phoenix rising from the ashes,” the DVO appears determined to change and grow with the community it serves. When asked what we (the general public) can expect from a night at the opera, Castel’s enthusiasm was contagious. “You can expect to laugh and cry, if we do our job correctly. Opera allows us to experience a wide range of emotions and share the human experience.”
Although the company has many professionals in its midst, it is also a place for those studying the art form to hone their craft in a nurturing environment. Many young singers have gotten their start right here in the Upper Delaware Valley, and the DVO revels in the talent that lives here and participates in the productions. Social interaction seems to be key to the future success of the company, since “It takes a village,” volunteers, interns, stage hands, costumers and singers rejoicing in a musical collaboration that involves many in dedication to serving their community by providing quality productions worthy of any venue. I’m looking forward to seeing for myself as the season unfolds, having experienced (first hand) the mounting excitement surrounding the “dawning of a new day” for the Delaware Valley Opera.
In addition to the full length operas, there are “House Concerts,” a crafts fair and flea market, the DVO “Books Project,” among other programs. For a complete schedule of events, and information on how to get involved with the DVO, visit delawarevalleyopera.org or call 845/252-3136.