Enosburg Opera will reopen for the season with Prydein, Cadillac Jack, bar and food truck | News
ENOSBURG — For 130 years, the opera houses of Enosburg have been home to the arts of form, drawing actors, musicians and patrons to Northern Vermont.
But over the past two years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has closed the doors and windows of the huge theater, postponing many events that have brought together entire communities such as wedding receptions, baby showers, craft competitions and exhibitions.
Next Friday, the halls of the opera will once again be filled with song, including bagpipes, whistles and electric guitar. The Enosburg Opera will kick off its season on March 18 with Prydein, the local Celtic rock band. The local Cadillac Jack ensemble is the opening performer.
Opera director Suzanne Hull-Casavant said the show was a long time coming. The theater canceled the rest of its shows in 2020 and has since closed to the public. The space underwent renovations during this time, including new paint and stained glass replacements.
As part of the Celtic-themed celebration, McClurgg’s Scottish Pub will serve as the bar and a food truck from The Phoenix House in Berkshire will offer home-cooked food.
The road to reopening
Hull-Cassavant said that although the two-year closure was devastating for the arts scene, she and other opera supporters never gave up hope that one day their beloved theater would return to the life.
“As a board member, in this kind of situation, you end up spending a lot more time and effort than you initially imagined,” Hull-Cassavant said. “But that was our priority. We focused on the facility and brought it back to life.
After a few unfortunate layoffs due to a canceled season, the opera’s remaining staff got to work. The place would reopen in hell or high tide, and this unexpected downtime gave them an opportunity to focus on what they could fix in the meantime. They held a fundraiser for a golf tournament, continued virtual holiday broadcasts, and met to discuss future plans, despite no playbill broadcasts.
The scariest part of preparing for the future, Hull-Cassavant said, was getting ready for the big night: opening night. Start-up costs, fundraising and promoting the theater, again, to the public.
The council found that they weren’t the only ones dreaming of a theater alive again. Patrons and benefactors poured in support, and with the addition of several arts-related grants, the opera received a much-needed touch-up.
Now set to reopen, Hull-Cassavant said the next big task is to rekindle the community’s love for the arts and neighborhood celebration.
“We have local music right down the street where you don’t have to go,” Hull-Cassavant said.
“And add low ticket prices,” added Kim Covert-Airoldi, the venue’s publicity, marketing and office manager.
Airoldi and Hull-Cassavant, as well as other volunteers and friends of the place, closely followed the orientation of the artistic spaces. They started following Higher Ground on social media and have since adopted similar guidelines for guests if they plan to attend a performance at the opera: proof of vaccination card or negative COVID-19 test.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe, but everyone is having a good time,” Hull-Cassavant said.
The arts are essential
Hull-Cassavant was the opera’s director from 2007 to 2013, but in 2017 he returned as a board member and chairman of the board. Airoldi started at the opera in November. Both are long-time patrons and enthusiastic supporters of the arts who have loved them since childhood.
“The arts are everything,” Airoldi “I’ve seen so many kids come here, and the memories they’ve created, the trust they’ve built – that’s paramount.”
“It complements what we have to offer as a community,” Hull-Cassavant said. “I think it’s important to keep that connection with creativity and to make sure there’s always a place for the arts.”
The arts, the two agreed, are essential for all members of the community. They have inspired people to dream, and performances at the Opera bring communities and visitors together for nights of magic.
Today, the Enosburg Opera House Board and supporting patrons of the venue are focused on moving the rejuvenated venue into the present. As well as booking shows of all kinds, including plays, improv troupes, art exhibits, craft shows and this year’s main show, titled “Midlife Cowboy”, the theater is also looking for other food trucks that they can invite to their sites to make the evenings even more fun and delicious.
They also hope to perform more shows: while Hull-Cassavant has long loved musicals like “Wicked” and “Guys and Dolls”, Airoldi said it was the “Mystery of Edwin Drood” and the “Ghost of the opera”. ‘ which captured his heart.
“There was never any question of ‘if’ the Opera was going to reopen,” Hull-Cassavant said. “It was a question of ‘when?'”