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Queens Opera Theatre finds a home at Flushing Town Hall

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You can make April 15 feel a bit less taxing this year by taking in the premiere of the Queens Opera Theatre, which launches its inaugural season at Flushing Town Hall this month.

The borough’s only opera company was made possible in part by a grant from the venue to use the renovated 400-seat “Jewel Box” theater space, but mostly by the 20-year dream of the two founders, Andy Anderson and Brian Gill.

“Queens is the one borough that doesn’t have a professional opera company,” said Gill, the executive director. “With it being ethnically the most diverse, I felt that this up-and-coming borough needs it.”

Gill and Anderson, both musicians, worked together at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan about 20 years ago and talked about the concept at that time.

“I pitched the idea to Brian and now it is becoming a reality,” said Anderson, the artistic director and a professional conductor.

The two have been working seriously on the project since December 2015. The search for a venue took them all across the borough, but the duo knew they had found the right home when they saw Flushing Town Hall.

“The theater is the perfect size for what we are doing, and we fell in love with the space after seeing so many other spots in Queens,” said Gill.

He pointed out that even though the space is intimate, it has an elevated stage which will allow for a full orchestra to accompany future productions without interfering with the line of sight of the audience.

And the price was right — Flushing Town Hall Executive Director Ellen Kodadek gave them a grant that allows the company to use the space rent free, removing one of the largest expenses for an arts company.

“It has been a blessing for us,” Anderson said.

Anderson and Gill are well-prepared to take on the task of launching and running a new opera company. Both earned degrees in music, but they also have practical experience.

“Most of my training was done in Kansas City,” said Anderson. “I ran a small opera company that ran for nine years as well as being on staff of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. I have been a professional conductor who has traveled the world as a guest conductor for operas and musical pieces with companies of all shapes and sizes.”

Gill even has a degree in business performance as well as music and has experience running productions in New York.

“I traveled the world on cruise ships, then took a detour in the administration end at Carnegie Hall as well as taking on the position of house manager for the show ‘The Fantasticks,’” Gill said.

For its inaugural show, Queens Opera Theatre will be performing a collage concert with five singers, including soprano Megan King, tenor Benjamin Rose, soprano Elizabeth Beers Kataria, mezzo soprano Kristee Haney, and baritone Ron Loyd. The pianist is Gloria Kim. Expect arias from various operas, as well as a sneak peek of what they’re planning for future shows, such as “La Boheme.”

The company will hold auditions soon for these upcoming shows, one of which is expected to be ready for the stage in October.

Concerts are free of charge and no RSVP is required. The website is www.queensoperatheatre.org

Saturday’s concert is at 7:30 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd.

Posted 12:00 am, April 13, 2017
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