Talks underway to bring opera to the Forum Theater

May 30, 2017: The opera may be coming to the borough this year.

Talks are underway to bring the the Opera Company of Brooklyn to the Metuchen Forum Theater Arts Center in the next few months, sources tell me. Nothing is set in stone and talks are still preliminary.

Richard Menziuso, a borough resident and former board member of the Opera Co. of Brooklyn, is helping facilitate talks between the Forum Theater and the opera company. Brooklyn Opera Co. is led by Jay Meetze.

Menziuso didn’t provide details about the situation as it’s still early days. A realistic timeline could be August or September, Meetze told me. Forum Theater Director Peter Loewy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

There are a few challenges — primarily is securing the space. The opera company is usually provided space without paying rent, with the host location sharing in the box office, Meetze said. The opera company also has to fund expenses for its singers traveling out to performance locations. I’m not clear on how those costs get paid.

I chatted with Meetze to get a sense of what kind of opera Metuchen might be in for. I’m excited not only for the opera to come to town, but also to meet Meetze in person. He is a driving force all on his own.

Along with the hard facts of the situation, Meetze gave me a lesson on the struggles opera singers face when performing operas in their original languages; the attributes of different types of pianos; controversy around using a virtual orchestra; and a host of others issues.

Meetze founded The Opera Co. of Brooklyn, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, in 2000. It was formed to bring affordable and accessible opera to everyone, helping to ensure the continuity of this form of art. Meetze has conducted more than 50 operas around the world.

It’s interesting how he tries to make famous operas more accessible to American audiences. He’ll cut down the length of the performances, and translate dialogue into English.

For example, the company performs Die Fledermaus, composed by Johann Strauss, in German and English. “We sing all the big musical numbers in the original language for that piece, it’s in German, and for the dialogue, we do that speaking English,” Meetze said. “So people get the gist of the plot.”

The operas are translated “only in ways that enhance the composer’s original intentions. There are people that will do things to operas to broaden appeal but not really in tune with the creators’ intentions.”

I’ll update as and if more info becomes available.

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