Opera in New Jersey is Thriving
Though many may not realize it today, opera has had a wonderful history in New Jersey. For 43 years, the New Jersey State Opera (NJSO) has been performing grand opera and concerts throughout the state.
With their home base in Newark and its close proximity to New York, NJSO is and has been one of the three major opera companies in the metropolitan area. Opera greats such as Placido Domingo, Roberta Peters, Beverly Sills, Robert Merrill, Richard Tucker and many more have graced the stages in Newark.
Some of them debuted in the New York metro area with the Company. We’ve all seen the Newark renaissance unfolding these last few years before our eyes. The City is returning to its artistic roots when the “Four Corners” was the busiest intersection in the country and its night life, with 63 live theaters and 46 movie houses, entertained the city and it visitors.
The area’s hotels have seen major renovations and upgrades and restaurants have flourished, serving food from all parts of the world. Newark is truly a place you can come to see a captivating performance, eat a marvelous meal, stay in a first class hotel and spend the next day at a museum or catch a movie.
This renaissance will continue along with a great New Jersey arts tradition when NJSO triumphantly returns to the stage at Newark’s Symphony Hall and performs Porgy and Bess, the poignant story of Catfish Row, the disabled Porgy and beautiful but dissolute Bess.
Together with The New Jersey Symphony and the New Jersey Ballet, which also call Newark home, the city is once again the undisputed arts capital of New Jersey. Last year, NJSO took a major step in bringing opera to communities by making Ocean Grove their summer residence.
Destination: Opera! took the stage at the Great Auditorium on Sept. 12, 2008 and created a sensation that is growing into a state wide music festival. This year’s performance of Destination: Opera! was a three day festival featuring the thrilling sounds of Verdi’s Requiem at the Great Auditorium sending the electric sound of the full 70 piece NJSO Orchestra, the beautiful voices of the 300 member NJSO’s chorus and an all star cast.
Those that stayed overnight were treated to the first fully stage opera in Monmouth County— La Serva Padrona. Massachusetts has Tanglewood in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. Chicago has the summer festival Rivanna and New York has Glimmerglass in Cooperstown.
Now, New Jersey has opera in the most beautiful setting in the country - The Jersey Shore. There is already a buzz about the superior quality of the performances and the international participation in the event.
Each year the festival expands covering all of the Ocean Grove venues and spilling over into Asbury Park, Red Bank and other beautiful Shore spots. And late summer at the Jersey Shore is the perfect setting for a long weekend and the discovery of opera at the shore.
Enjoy the comfort and style of the beautiful Victorian lodgings and spend some time in the unique shops and restaurants. Opera at the shore is a great New Jersey Destination!
Story by Rick Levy New Jersey Council on the Arts
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