Sunday, April 12, 2009

Granite State Opera closes

This is a real downer for opera fans and music lovers in our region: ["Economic Malaise Claims Another Arts Company"].
I'm sad to see that they are closing up shop. I've interviewed Phil Lauriat a number of times on the radio and have enjoyed his company's productions. But, at the same time, you at least have to break even with your shows. And as the Hippo Press reported this week, GSO was losing quite a bit of money with each show [Jeff Rapsis wrote the story but I couldn't find it online to link].
I have never been a huge opera fan. In fact, I always found it silly and annoying. But the more I educated myself about the format, the more I came to respect it and enjoy it ... the talent in the productions, tapestry of the content, and difficulty putting it all together. I first came to know opera locally with "Aida" and later, "The Mikado," both traveling shows at the Capitol Center. "The Mikado" was a gut buster - during "I've Got a Little List," the actor modernized the lyrics and included a bit about Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. It fit right in since the incident just happened and the change caught the audience entirely off guard.
The GSO shows were absolutely superb. "Madama Butterfly" was amazing, "Rigoletto" and "l'Elisir d'Amore" - the elixir of love - were excellent and hilarious, with top notch talent, musicians, and sets. I'm sure our experience was like going to the opera in New York or London.. It was that good.
Lauriat was a master conductor - not arrogant like you can sense with some conductors - but so caught up in the perfection of the music and the need to be stellar. Whimsical, with sweat often running from his brow, you could tell he loved what he was doing and lived to work with all the talent people he gathered together for the two productions a year.
Unfortunately, since moving out of radio, I haven't had the chance to take in much opera. I missed the last few productions like a lot of folks and I'm sorry for that. But I will always cherish those GSO productions and hope to continue to enjoy the format in the future. Here's hoping all involved with the GSO find something as invigorating to work on in the future.

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