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Vermont Opera Project Brings New Opera To Barre

Peter Konerko
Michael Chioldi stars in the Vermont Opera Project's production of the Andree Expedition, the tale of a failed 1897 hot air balloon expedition to the North Pole.

Around the world, contemporary opera is having a “moment”, with an incredible amount new opera being composed and performed. The Vermont Opera Project was founded last year in Barre, with the mission of bringing new and rarely-performed operas to Vermont.

The Vermont Opera Project now has a new production of Dominick Argento’s The Andree Expedition. It’s the tale of three Swedish explorers in 1897, at the height of arctic exploration, who decide to fly a hot air balloon to the North Pole.

The group is never heard from again, until 33 years later when their remains are discovered by a group of seal hunters, along with journals and letters home. 

Quincy Bruckerhoff, General Director of the Vermont Opera Project, says, "There's so much new opera out in the world right now, it's what even the bigger companies are going towards, bringing in these smaller piece."

Stage Director Cynthia Stokes says the Andree Expedition touches on some common human themes. "There's this question about the uncertain adventurer in all of us. What on earth processes someone to strap themselves to a rocket and go to the moon? What on earth is it in all of us that wants to go climb the next mountain, or figure out what's under the ocean? There's something intrinsically human in that."

Laurie Rodgers, Music Director says that it's a real tour de force for the baritone soloist, portraying three different characters, each with their own energy and trajectory.

Performances are Friday, August 4th at the Barre Opera House, and Saturday and Sunday August 5th and 6th at the Vermont Marble Museum. Details are at vtoperaproject.com

Hear the full conversation with Laurie Rodgers, Cynthia Stokes, and Quincy Bruckerhoff:


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