MONTCLAIR, NJ - On January 23, the Opera Theatre of Montclair (OTM) performed its opening act at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation to a full house. Located at 67 Church Street in Montclair, the OTM is a new arts organization that launched in January 2013 to present full length fully staged costumed opera with an orchestra in the Montclair area. In July of 2014, the OTM gained its 501c3 status, therefore, all donations are tax deductible. 

The OTM general manager and founder, Mia Riker-Norrie said, “The company gives singers, orchestral musicians, scenic artists, costume designers and others an opportunity to practice their craft in an atmosphere of mutual respect and synchronicity while creating new audiences through education and exposure.”

The opera currently being performed is ‘Nabucco’, which is an Italian language opera in four acts composed in 1841 by Giuseppe Verdi.  The Opera Theatre plans on organizing  local collaborations with local churches, educational and civic institutions. They also have formed an educational committee that brings opera to public schools and offering college and community internships.  “OTM was awarded an MFEE grant to perform "The Magic Flute" at Renaissance Middle School as well as to present additional related educational programs, which it will do in May. The company has a strong educational mission and will strive to bring opera education into local schools, including Title I,” said Riker-Norrie.

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Riker-Norrie explained how OTM got started, “OTM has been actively fundraising for the past two years. We started with house party-concerts. We did a number of restaurant events with piano as well as full-scale concerts with orchestra. In January 2013, we did Act II of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" at St. Luke's with singers and a 65-piece all-volunteer orchestra. Until our current production of ‘Nabucco’, all artists and staff donated their time 100% to help raise this company up.”

The conductor for the opera orchestra is veteran award-winner, Daniele Tirilli.  Maestro Tirilli began his musical education with Gabriella Panichi, and under his guidance studied composition and organ. He has studied choral conducting with Adone Zecchi and took advanced training in singing technique with Alain Billard and Antonietta Stella. He has also studied the interpretation and style of belcanto and Italian Opera at the Studienzentrum with Peter Berne.  Tirilli has recorded for the record label Bongiovanni and for RAI (Italian State Radio) and has sung in numerous international theaters (Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Vienna, Catania, Tokyo, Sofia, Paris, Rome and Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana).

OTM has some future projects in the works planned for the community. “Throughout 2015, OTM will present an abridged version of Mozart's ‘The Magic Flute’, fully-costumed and semi-staged. The first presentation will take place as a part of the Music at Immaculate concert series at Immaculate Conception Church in Montclair, 4 PM, March 1. Other venues will include schools, senior centers, libraries and other houses of worship. Based on fundraising success, OTM plans to do two full operas in 2016, Mozart's ‘Abduction from the Seraglio’ and Handel's ‘Acis and Galatea’,” said Riker-Norrie.

'Nabucco' has two more performance dates scheduled for January 30 and January 31. According to the website, the January 31 show is already sold out. For more information, visit http://www.operamontclair.org/