The spirited performance troupe known as Barn Opera is inviting the Killington-Rutland community to a unique meet-and-greet plus a concert, being held on May 3, from 6-7 p.m., at The Hub CoWorks, 67 Merchants Row in Rutland. Most area residents refer to that location as The Opera House, and next week, Barn Opera’s performers will not only take a bow, but applaud, that majestic building’s illustrious past.
When Joshua Collier, Barn Opera’s ebullient artistic director and acclaimed tenor, visited The Hub earlier this month for a meeting, it didn’t take him long to express his reverence for the venue’s history. During a break, Collier bounded up the center stairs adjacent to one of The Hub’s sparkling glass-lined conference rooms to survey the soaring expanse.
Landing at the top, Collier proclaimed in his booming voice, “The acoustics in here are perfect.” That alone inspired Collier and The Hub’s team to collaborate on an event that nods not only to The Opera House’s history but also celebrates its contemporary revitalization as a commercial space and community center.
Tickets to attend the performance are $10, available at barnopera.com/tickets. Complimentary refreshments will be available via donation at intermission, but no alcoholic beverages will be available.
The event will include a live performance by a trio led by Collier, who has sung and acted in beloved operas around the world. Joining him will be baritone Nicholas Tocci, who is Barn Opera’s associate director, and Brandon resident and Barn Opera pianist Kristen Carr. Together, they will perform songs, well-loved arias, and duets from the Italian opera tradition.
At the event, Collier will also be providing details about Barn Opera’s upcoming international education- and performance-project in Italy, dubbed the “Castellopera al Mare,” to be held from June 18-July 6, and how Rutlanders can declare “Andiamo” – Italian for, “Let’s Go!”
“Barn Opera’s board of directors and entire artistic team are so committed to supporting, involving, and welcoming the Rutland County community as a whole. For this summer only, we are offering a $1,000-per-person reduction in our usual tuition of $4,100 for this exciting program,” Collier indicated.
Barn Opera’s international project this year will be held in Cesenatico, a quintessential Italian beach town on the Adriatic coast, in the fabled Emilia-Romagna region, home to Italy’s most celebrated culinary specialties. Tuition for community members includes waterfront hotel accommodation and half board. The program includes daily structured Italian lessons, led by Middlebury College language professor Sandra Carletti, access to rehearsals, and performances in the stunning Teatro Errico Petrella in Longiano of Puccini’s beloved romantic opera La Bohème and the comedic opera Gianni Schicchi.
Airfare, local transportation, personal incidentals, and other extras are not included in the tuition price. Cesenatico is accessible by train or car from such major Italian tourist destinations as Florence, Venice, and Bologna.
Joshua Collier not only seeks to grow audience and support for Barn Opera’s activities in Rutland County, but to make opera more accessible beyond the area.
“We want to expand our reach as ambassadors for the United States, Vermont in particular, and the operatic medium in general, by providing this unique opportunity for emerging talent and community members, alike,” he said.
Net proceeds from the benefit event at The Hub CoWorks will be used to support Barn Opera’s future artistic endeavors, as well as furthering the goal of Barn Opera to provide opportunities for the youth of Vermont to achieve artistic development without socio-economic division. All donations to Barn Opera are tax-deductible where permitted by law.
Five years ago, Collier, 35, made Vermont his home, bringing along his wife, parents and young daughter.
Through many performances since 2018, Collier has driven Barn Opera’s upward trajectory, boosting its production capabilities, audience experience, artistic vision and performer compensation. Its first production – of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – sold out in just three days, astounding skeptics who said Collier wouldn’t sell more than a handful of seats. Since then, he has raised more than a half million dollars for his organization.
“Barn Opera is thrilled to be partnering with the Hub CoWorks,” Collier stated. “We look forward to continuing to forge and strengthen community connections across town lines.”
The Hub CoWorks space, which is now growing in popularity, attracting tech-startups, small businesses, educators, and community groups, was once the site of a celebrated concert venue known as Ripley Music Hall. According to the Rutland Historical Society, the original edifice, built in 1868 by William Y. Ripley, was destroyed by arson in 1875. His son, Edward, rebuilt it in 1882 and renamed it Ripley Opera House.
For decades, The Opera House served as a landmark cultural center for the Rutland region, hosting concerts, lectures, and social gatherings. Historical documents indicate that even then, the upper area of the space had excellent acoustics. Via a public-private partnership between CEDRR (Chamber and Economic Development of the Rutland Region) and MKF Properties, led by Rutland native and avid community supporter Mark Foley Jr., The Opera House was gloriously refurbished over the past three years, officially opening in November 2022.
On May 3, opera tenor Joshua Collier, baritone Nicholas Tocci, and pianist Kristin Carr will once again fill that magnificent space with delightful music, in a literal and symbolic salute to Rutland’s history while also celebrating its unlimited potential for the future. After all, the acoustics are perfect.
For more information vist: Barnopera.com/tickets; rutlandvermont.com.
Liz DiMarco Weinmann, MBA, is principal and owner of Liz DiMarco Weinmann Consulting, L3C, based in Rutland, serving charitable and educational institutions: lizdimarcoweinmann.com.