Welcome to the Opera House Arts website. You will find information on upcoming events and learn all about the historic Stonington Opera House!



Gone Girl

October 24th -
October 26th

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Day of The Dead Dance

November 1st

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Box Trolls

October 31st -
November 2nd

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Day of the Dead Rocks Stonington

2nd Annual Celebration features dance band Merther, specialty foods, a pop-up marketplace, and Main Street businesses offering longer hours, discounts

Make Stonington your destination on November 1, when downtown will buzz with activity from 4 to 7 p.m. as merchants offer specials, discounts, and a decorated downtown around Opera House Arts’ second annual Day of the Dead Dance and Celebration at 7 p.m.

This will be Opera House Arts’ second annual Day of the Dead Dance. Blue Hill dance band MERTHER will be the featured musicians. Day of the Dead costumes are encouraged, as are food, photos, artwork, flowers, and other offerings to your lost loved ones for the traditional ofrenda installation. Prizes will be awarded for the most authentic costumes. The evening will include a local beer tasting from STRONG BREWING CO of Sedgwick; special snacks available for purchase from EL EL FRIJOLESM, also of Sedgwick; and a sugar skull cookie decorating station.

November 1 is many things to many people: the day after Halloween for most, All Saints Day for some, and increasingly around the country and world a celebration known as the Day of the Dead. This is a Latin American celebration of lost loved ones that brings Halloween and All Saints Day traditions together in a festive remembrance of the dead through food, art, costumes, music, dancing, and more. Traditional Day of the Dead offerings include marigolds, sugar skulls, and a special bread known as pan de muerto.

From 4 to 7 p.m., other downtown businesses including The Dry Dock and Unexpected Treasures are extending their hours and offering special discounts; Unexpected Treasures will be featuring the new children’s book, Scipio the Singing Seagull. The Harbor Café, Opera House and others will also offer 10% discounts that evening for those with a Day of the Dead card indicating they have visited two or more downtown merchants. A Pop-Up Marketplace, located in the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street, will feature some of the area’s other favorite food and craft vendors from the Stonington Farmers Market and beyond.

For more information, please call 367-2788

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Opera House Arts announces expansion of Staged Community Reading Series, and a workshop, as part of 2014-15 Season

Men’s Lives, a staged version of Peter Matthiessen’s acclaimed book of the same name on the disappearing fishing communities of Long Island, kicks off the 15th season of Opera House Arts’ “Our Own” Staged Community Playreading Series November 12-13 at 7 p.m. at the Stonington Opera House. Auditions for the staged reading will be Tuesday, October 21 at 7 p.m. at the Opera House. The reading launches an expansion of this popular series, which will include four additional titles, guest directors, and guest artists, as well as a musical theater workshop.

“The ‘Our Own’ series--staged community reads and dynamic, facilitated discussions of classic and contemporary dramas--are a cornerstone of OHA’s role in our communities,” said Producing Artistic Director Linda Nelson. “I am thrilled to be able to expand these opportunities in this coming season.”

Based on the documentary book of the same name by Peter Mattheissen, Men's Lives intimately explores the impact of social, economic, and ecological change on the traditional fishing families of Long Island Sound during the middle of the 20th century, and has clear resonances for local communities. The voices of the Baymen (and women) themselves ring clear, even in the midst of confusion and conflict. An elegy for a culture, and a call to arms- or, more importantly, reflection- Men's Lives portrays a version of the American Dream that will be familiar to many on the Maine Coast- where working on the water is not just about making a living, but about how you live your life.

The expanded series, co-curated by actor and director Peter Richards, will feature guest directors and artists to offer community members a variety of opportunities to hone their acting experiences. Deer Isle’s Morgan Witham, an actor (10 Real Star Acts at Opera House Arts; The Pajama Game) and director (most recent credit, The Pajama Game, Reach Performing Arts Center), will guest direct Men’s Lives. New York City based actor Per Janson (Romeo and Juliet, R&J&Z, Antony and Cleopatra, 10 Real Star Acts at Opera House Arts) will be the guest artist. Roles include Walt, a life-long fisherman, and his wife, two boys, and nephew; a narrator; friends of the family; as well as faces of the opposition to commercial fishing.

Men’s Lives is the first in a five-play series of staged readings being offered by Opera House Arts in 2014-15. Additional titles and dates include: The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (February 11-12); Columbinus by the United States Theater Project (March); Anna Christie, Eugene O’Neill’s classic New England drama (May); and Under Milkwood, a radio play by Dylan Thomas (August). All performances will be followed by facilitated Talk Backs.

In addition to these dramas, OHA is offering community members a winter workshop to further develop important stage (and life!) skills. Actor and director Amy Kyzer, OHA’s Artistic and Development Associate, will lead “Sing Me a Story,” a seven-week musical theater workshop, from February 16 – March 30. Please call the Opera House box office for details or to register.

OHA’s “Our Own” Community Playreading Series celebrates its 15th anniversary season in 2015. Everyone, regardless of experience, is encouraged to participate in the “Our Own” staged playreadings, which require a maximum of 20 hours of rehearsal time over the course of a week to 10 days, and no memorization. The series presents an excellent opportunity to read new plays with their writers present; and to explore issues, drama, direction, and performance through scripts.

To register for auditions, please email info@operahousearts.org or call 207-367-2788.

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Click here to check out our BCC Chamber Concert subscription!

The Baroque Orchestra of Maine, better known as BOOM, will be featured in a dynamic, multi-media concert in Opera House Arts’ Chamber at the Church series Tuesday, August 26 at 7 pm.

In this special, one-night only program, the world-class baroque musicians of BOOM bring to life some of the fundamental patterns found throughout nature, exploring through baroque music, poetry, visual art, and Cymatics the themes of beauty, balance and conversation. The program includes the music of Biber, Corelli, Locke and more played on baroque violin, cello and harp; live recitations by Maine poet Jeff Volk; films of both Cymatics and artists collaborative 'Colors in Motion,' "Conversations" by visual artist Ann Provan, and more woven into an unforgettable tapestry of sound, color and spoken word. The video clips include excerpts from Volk’s award-winning documentary film, Of Sound Mind and Body: Music and Vibrational Healing, which features Kay Gardner, a legendary Stonington musician who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 60 in 2002.

Violinist RACHEL EVANS has been a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, jazz group String Fever, contemporary music ensemble Continuum, and the Meridian Quartet. She was a principal player and recitalist at the Carmel Bach Festival for many years and appeared in chamber ensembles at the Boston, Berkeley, and Utrecht Early Music Festivals, Charles Ives Festival in Germany and the Victoria Festival in Australia, and The Leopold Mozart Festival in Germany.

CHRISTINE GUMMERE has been playing baroque cello since 1985, when she was invited by harpsichordist James Richman to be principal cellist for Concert Royal. She has also performed with Concordia, a chamber symphony led by Marin Alsop; String Fever, a string swing band; and the Riverside Symphony, an orchestra specializing in 20th century music, where she was principal cellist for 19 years.

CHRISTA PATTON is an historical harpist and early wind specialist. She has performed, recorded, and toured the Americas, Europe, and Japan with many of today’s outstanding early music ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Folger Consort, the New York State Baroque Orchestra, Early Music New York. Christa is co-director and musical director of the Baroque Opera Workshop at Queens College specializing in the works of early 17th century composers.

JEFF VOLK is a poet, producer, and the publisher of books and videos about Cymatics, a science that demonstrates how audible sound creates harmonic, geometric patterns found throughout nature and in the sacred art and architecture of the world's Wisdom Traditions. His documentary, Of Sound Mind and Body: Music and Vibrational Healing, won the 1992 Hartley Film Award through the Institute of Noetic Sciences and features the work of musician Kay Gardner, former Stonington resident. Volk founded The International Sound Colloquium in 1993, which became the premier conference exploring trans-cultural practices of sacred sound and healing music.

ANN PROVAN’s paintings, sculpture, and installations investigate the perception of space through relationships of organic and geometric forms. Provan grew up in Berkeley, California and attended the Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris. She received a Masters in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been shown at the New Museum in New York City and in galleries throughout the U.S. and world, most recently at Das Verborgene Museum in Berlin in 2013. Her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Oregon, Franklin Furnace, and private collections.

Opera House Arts’ Chamber at the Church Series is held at its historic, restored, 1870 Burnt Cove Church facility at 17 Airport Road in Stonington. Parking and facilities are limited.

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Special season will also celebrate retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome

Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce major programs and dates for its 15th anniversary season, including two original theatrical productions in summer 2014. The upcoming season will also celebrate the work and honor the retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome on November 1, 2014. The theme of OHA’s 2014 season—which is also the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, connecting the Stonington Opera House’s home to the mainland—is Transformation and Change, reflecting both the large cultural change represented by the bridge opening, as well as the structural change of the Opera House in Jerome’s retirement.

The season will be anchored by two original theatrical productions. Beginning July 3, OHA will unveil a special Shakespeare in Stonington production featuring a new play by OHA affiliated artist Melody Bates. Titled R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies), the production was developed over two years of artist residencies in the community and school, in repertory with an original production of the Bard’s masterwork, Romeo and Juliet.

On August 14, OHA will premiere The Last Ferryman, directed by Jerome, a new “popera” commissioned by OHA from Grammy Award winner Paul Sullivan to tell the story of the creation and impact of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Like R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman is the culmination of year-long school and community research and participation. The opening of the bridge, connecting Stonington and the extended community to the mainland, represented an enormous cultural change.

“These programs are fitting ways to celebrate Judith’s retirement,” said Richard Howe, chairman of the Opera House Arts’ Board of Directors. “They highlight the originality, creativity, and community engagement at the heart of OHA’s mission and the program she has helped to develop so strongly over 15 very busy years.”

The opening of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge 75 years ago, on June 19, 1939, was a moment of huge cultural change for Deer Isle and its primary economic center, Stonington. Dependent until then on the kindnesses of weather and ferry service, islanders access to the mainland, including to critical medical services, was often blocked by time (the ferry stopped running at 6 p.m.) or temperature (Eggemoggin Reach froze over several winters in the period just before the bridge opened, making crossing dangerous or impossible). Through its year long The Bridge Project/The Last Ferryman, a close collaboration with the schools both on the island and across the bridge in Sedgwick as well as with the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, OHA seeks to give community members, participants, and audiences a chance to study, understand, and discuss major community change, and the ways communities deal with broad cultural shifts such as this.

Likewise, the development of Melody Bates’ original script, R&J&Z, which takes off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet and introduces the concept of traditional Haitian notions of zombie-ism to Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers, and is also deeply integrated with school and community while exploring a moment of significant cultural change. Romeo and Juliet are the new, young generation of Montagues and Capulets: and they don’t fit. Are they doomed to extinction, or does the metaphor, magic, and horror of R&J&Z open for us the possibility that their tale lives on in perpetuity, a gateway to a new world order? In collaboration with the Deer Isle-Stonington High School, both scripts are part of a year long “Shakespeare Immersion” program, sponsored by OHA, for students in grades 9-12, in which all island students are reading Romeo and Juliet and having multiple opportunities to see performances and films of it, as well as to participate in the development of R&J&Z.

OHA’s 15th anniversary season begins November 1, 2013, the start of its new fiscal year. In addition to the large original summer performances, it includes a very special Valentine’s Day concert by the Daponte String Quartet, Whirlwind Romance; in March, the premiere of a solo performance developed from Chapter 7 of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014; in April the premiere of a one hour, educational cabaret version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Sweet Sixteen; and a concert version of West Side Story as OHA’s Annual Gala Benefit on July 7.

“I’m very proud of how much original programming we have in development this year,” said Jerome. “Commissioning and developing new performance relevant to our particular communities is at the heart of what we do, and we’ve more in the pipeline as we look toward 2015 and beyond.”

JUDITH JEROME is one of four founding members of Opera House Arts, founded in 1999 to restore the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its central role as a community arts institution at the heart of Stonington’s Main Street and working waterfront. She shared Artistic Director duties with founding co-Artistic Director CAROL ESTEY through 2006. Jerome holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, for which she was awarded the Monroe Lippman Award for Distinguished Dissertation in 2007. She began her performance career in the bosom of her large storytelling Texas family, and then with the renowned Dallas Little Theater in 1956. She raised three daughters and performed in most of the theaters in Denver, CO in the two decades leading up to her move to New York in 1995, writing and performing much of her own material. She worked closely with the Colorado Council on the Arts, as a visiting artist in schools and communities, as a teaching artist with the Colorado Aesthetic Education Institute, and as a supervisor of artist’s residencies. In New York City she has performed at Dixon Place, HERE, Peculiar Works Projects, among others. She was managing editor of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Studies from 1996-1999, and taught as an adjunct professor at NYU before helping to found Opera House Arts. At the Opera House, in addition to her role as Artistic Director, she is known for both her stage performances (Lace, a solo spoken word piece detailing island geneology; The Ferry Musicals: the Moose Boy; The Duck Variations) and direction (Women and the Sea; Last Gas).

While retiring from her administrative duties as Artistic Director, Jerome will continue with OHA as a member of its Board of Directors and on an annual consulting retainer to direct special projects. In response to Jerome’s retirement, OHA will restructure staffing along more traditional lines for a theater of its size, naming current Executive Director Linda Nelson as Producing Artistic Director and creating additional administrative staff lines reporting to Nelson for development, marketing, and artistic support.

Opera House Arts (OHA) 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.

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