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Shakespeare Extravaganzas at OperaDelaware

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Opera is known for its high drama onstage, but it has faced its share of drama offstage, too. One after another, more than 20 opera companies across the country have closed their doors, leaving disheartened fans in their wake. OperaDelaware, the 11th-oldest company in the country, skirted a similar fate in 2013. “We have stayed alive when a lot of communities have lost their opera companies,” says Brendan Cooke, OperaDelaware’s general director. “But we had to take a sharp left turn.”

Since then, OperaDelaware has been building momentum, attracting visitors from across the country as it plans for its spring festival May 14–22. The festival will feature two mainstage operas at The Grand, including the East Coast premiere of Franco Faccio’s “Amleto” (Hamlet) and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Falstaff.” “The fact that composer-conductor Anthony Barrese is willing to let the East Coast premiere be here is something we are super proud of,” says Cooke. “It demonstrates a lot of what we are trying to accomplish here.”The goal is to make Wilmington a destination for opera. With their strong connections in the opera world, Cooke and Jason Hardy have access to top talent. They are also able to stage high-quality productions at The Grand  for far less than it would cost in some surrounding cities. “It is a truly singular experience on the East Coast. I don’t know of another theater like it. The sound is just remarkable,” says Cooke. “The Grand is home and always will be.”

For now the focus is on making opera a vibrant part of the cultural landscape. Cooke is well aware of how opera is perceived. “It’s too expensive, it’s too long, I won’t understand it, it’s fat ladies in horns,” says Cooke, a former opera singer. “It’s frankly not true. I love changing somebody’s mind, especially when it comes to opera.”

Read Danielle Bouchat-Friedman’s complete story, then head to our online calendar for more information about “Amleto” and “Falstaff.”

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