The Delaware Valley Opera Company has returned to Manayunk, where they founded the group in 1979, for its 2015 summer festival.
The group will be hosting several performances until the end of summer at the newly renovated Venice Island just off Main Street.
“The theater is magnificent,” said Sandra Day, president and general manager of the group. “My favorite thing is to walk out on that patio and look out at the river. It’s so gorgeous.”
The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department and the Philadelphia Water Department recently rehabilitated Venice Island, which was long considered an eyesore by the river. The new space has a 250-seat theater and an amphitheater with a parking lot, making it a hot spot for community events and shows.
“We do have the opportunity to actually reach out to some underserved communities,” Vice President Milo Morris said. “We really haven’t had the opportunity to do that in other locations. Having everything within walking distance is really cool. We’re accessible to them.”
The opera group is a nonprofit, so their tickets, which usually run around $25, are tax-deductible. The group is volunteer-based and although the performers are paid, most of the administrative staff is not. The proceeds of the tickets are used towards setting up their summer festivals.
The group performs many traditional shows, but occasionally puts a modern or more entertaining spin on their performances. The group will be performing Mozart’s “Magic Flute” in July with a steam punk theme. Board member Susan Millsfarrington said the opera has also used cross-dressing in some past performances.
“We’re open minded enough that if a director comes to us with a modernized concept, we will consider it,” Morris said. “Most opera companies are afraid to break traditional molds, but our audience appreciates new and different.”
The opera company often recruits younger and less-experienced artists for their shows. Although less experienced, the performers bring a lot of talent and have the opportunity to build their career in opera.
“Younger and emerging singers get their opportunity to learn and perform roles and get performing experience,” Morris said. “Hopefully, as we’ve seen with many of our performers over the years, they get to move up the food chain to bigger companies.”
After many years as a nomadic opera group, the company is happy to call Manayunk their home once again this summer. The administrators reinforced their dedication to serving the community by offering accessible, affordable opera performances.
“You don’t have an opera company in Manayunk everyday. I’m excited about being here and they seem excited about having us,” said Day.
The Delaware Valley Opera Company will host a total of nine shows throughout the summer.
Tickets can be bought at Venice Island or online.