Tonight, I look forward to attending the last performance of the 2008 Season for the Opera Grand Rapids. The performance of ‘The Flying Dutchman’ written by Robert Wagner will be the conclusion of the 40 Year Anniversary Season of the Opera Grand Rapids. Other performances this year have included Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro. In a way, it’s fitting that this years final celebration reflects a prominent part of the city’s heritage of Dutch culture.
We were introduced to the opera by a friend and business associate. Opera was not something that I would have predicted developing a liking or passion for. But, improbably through CD’s which introduced the storyline and many characters as well as the high quality of the performances, we have grown to love this type of entertainment. The Opera of Grand Rapids features performers from around the nation as well as local talent which includes the excellent Grand Rapids Symphony.
Some Exciting News was recently announced. The Opera will finally have its’ headquarters in the Grand Rapids area. For the past 40 years, this incredible troupe of artisans has rehearsed in locations as improbable as vacant storefronts and office buildings. They have now entered into an agreement to purchase a property on East Fulton which will house offices, a rehearsal hall, costume shop and storage for props. The facility is scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2009.
The New Facility will be known as the Betty Van Andel Opera Center in honor of Betty Van Andel who was a member of the Opera Grand Rapids Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1990. In 2001, the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation awarded Opera Grand Rapids a 1 Million dollar gift to jumpstart the building project. The Opera Grand Rapids is still involved in a major campaign to collect the remainder needed for the 2+ Million dollar project. As of mid-April, according the the Opera Grand Rapids website…they have raised approximately 70% of their target goal.
What is remarkable about the Opera of Grand Rapids from a fiscal standpoint is the manner in which they have managed and engaged fiscal costs and grown their audience at a time when many businesses in Grand Rapids experienced severe financial losses. I think one key has been the quality of the performances and the excellence with which they have marketed the Opera to a whole new audience.
When I look over the audience during an Opera performance, I’m always struck by the diversity of those who have come to know and love this special event offering in Grand Rapids. This bodes well for the future of the Opera…and the future of Grand Rapids!
Picture courtesy of PetitPoulillaires’ photostream on flickr.com
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