by Edward Rust
Staff Writer

The Nashville Opera will celebrate a milestone on Sunday, May 3, when the group will open the Noah Liff Opera Center - the opera's first official home.

The Liff Center, a $6 million facility, will provide space for rehearsals, executive offices and, eventually, small-scale opera performances and will allow the group to turn out greater quality production, according to Reed Hummell, Nashville Opera director of sales and marketing.

"It offers us an alternative where we can do what we call boutique or avant-garde pieces that you probably wouldn't be able to stage in a commercial environment like TPAC because the appeal would be rather small in some cases," Hummell said.

The Nashville Opera was formed in 1981 and began to quickly grow after a number of well-received shows and sell out houses. The organization then set a plan into motion that would aid the work of establishing its own facility. After years of planning, building and fundraising, it is a significant turning point for the group to finally complete building of its own facility, allowing the opera to utilize the full momentum it has built in past years.

 "I think Nashville Opera has always done an outstanding job of offering new and unique works and also looking back at classics, sort of reexamining them in a fresh light," Hummell said. "This (Liff center) will also change the way outside principal artists view our company. The rehearsal facilities that we're able to offer, the way we're able to stage things, we could even light things like we couldn't before. It just offers a tremendous increase in the potential we are able to add to our shows."

The Liff Center will also be a rental site where businesses and organizations may rent parts of the building or the whole building as needed.

"We really want to see it as a hub of the arts community with both us and the Nashville Ballet sharing the same building," Hummell said.

The Opening Day event will include a free performance of “The Magic Flute” at 3:45 p.m. as part of the Nashville Opera’s education tour production for children as well as photography stations which will have costume make-up, wigs and props for children and adults.

Italian finger foods, opera karaoke, an opera quiz station, favors for attendees and tours of the new facility will also be available during the afternoon event until 5 p.m. at 3622 Redmon St. in Nashville. The photos will be available online for free download after the event.

Guests will also have a chance to experience the full range of the facility's deluxe features on guided tours through the location highlighting its unique aspects including the studio, costume shop and makeup rooms.

“The Magic Flute” is a 45 minute adaptation inspired by the original and includes the familiar arias sung in English rather than in Italian. The performance was specifically designed for a cast of four players who change costumes and roles throughout. The target audience of this abbreviated version are elementary and middle school students though it was designed so that anyone could enjoy it.
Most recently 28,000 students saw Nashville Opera’s touring performance of “The Magic Flute” at their own schools in 18 counties around Middle Tennessee. The group will stage that exact production at the Liff Opera Center for anyone in the greater Nashville community.

"We have had a terrific season I'd have to day, even with the downturn economy," Hummell said. "We actually had a sell out on Saturday night for La Boehme so it appears that Nashville has always sort of embraced a multitude of art forms and opera certainly is one of those which is very popular among a whole swath of people in the community."

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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