Opera review by Gail M. Burns
When Alexina Jones founded Hubbard Hall Opera Theater in 2008, one of her goals was to “engage and build rural audiences for opera through offering affordable, intimate, high-quality musical and theatrical performances.” This she achieved immediately when HHOT’s premiere production of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte started out playing to 85 percent capacity its first few performances, and then it sold out.
This year, which is Jones’ last at Hubbard Hall as she is moving on in her arts management career, 25 people were turned away from the open dress rehearsal of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that I attended. The Hall only seats 120. A “rural audience” for opera has not only been engaged, they have been enthused. In case you are not sufficiently impressed, Jones is well under age 40.
Jones started out producing truncated, comedic, family-friendly operas – although the singers and musicians have always been professionals – on the theory that full-length grand opera might scare off first-time opera-goers. And now they are packing the house for full-length productions of Rigoletto and Madama Butterfly.