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Live From Fargo-Moorhead: Fargo-Moorhead Opera

Photos by Hillary Ehlen and John Borge

Fargo-Moorhead Opera‘s (FM Opera) David Hamilton has been with the staff of the FM Opera since 1999, serving first as artistic director until moving to general director in 2006. Artistic decisions, fundraising and overseeing the staff all fall under his responsibilities, including being the public face of the company. Through his words, allow your eyes to open up to the world of opera.

Upcoming events

Speed 
Dating 
Tonight!
March 18-20 at 7:30 p.m.
Featuring the 2018 Gate City Bank Young Artists, this show returns for another season but with all new dates. This hilarious one-act opera introduces you to the stereotypical daters you might expect while speed-dating: the liar, the cheat, the drama queen, the nerd and so on. Some dates will be highly successful while others will fail miserably. Regardless the outcome, you will have a good time eavesdropping to see how they turn out.
March 18 & 19 at Rustica Tavern
315 Main Ave, Moorhead
March 20 at Theatre B
215 10th St. N, Moorhead

Soldier
 Songs
April 6 at 7:30 p.m.
April 8 at 2 p.m.
Soldier Songs traces the shift in perception of war from the age of six to 66. Follow the lead character through the phases of life from boy to man: playing violent video games as a boy, enlisting and serving in the military, dealing with the real-life horrors of war and becoming a father whose worst fears are realized with the news of the death of his son. Adapted from interviews with veterans of five wars, this opera experience explores the ideas versus the realities of a soldier. This production has adult themes and is not suggested for young children.
NDSU Festival Concert Hall
1511 12th Ave. N, Fargo

Q&A

How did the FM Opera come to be?
David Hamilton: FM Opera was founded in 1968 by a dedicated group of volunteers who believed that this community deserved to have its own opera company. We are the only professional opera company between Minneapolis and Montana and between Winnipeg and Omaha. Next season, we will celebrate our 50th Anniversary.

What all does the FM Opera offer throughout the year?
DH: We offer a number of fully staged operas, concerts and special events each season. This year, we bring four operas to venues throughout the community. We also have concerts at our annual gala and at the Rourke Art Museum. Our Gate City Bank Young Artists annually sing for 6,500 schoolchildren in their schools and at assisted living facilities and for other community events. In addition, each season, we host a series of International Dinners that serve as a fundraising event for us. These dinners feature local chefs preparing food from other countries for our guests to enjoy with wine or beer pairings.

In what ways can people get involved — on stage or off?
DH: We have lots of opportunities for people, both paid and volunteer. Singers are encouraged to audition for the chorus and for solo roles. Those who have a technical background are welcome to explore working on different backstage areas of productions. Volunteer opportunities at performances include ushering, working at the box office and acting as ambassadors for the opera and interacting with the public who attend performances. We also have a great need for a variety of administrative volunteers who can help with everything from marketing to office work. And, anyone who has an interest in serving on the board of directors is encouraged to contact our Board Chair.

What about FM Opera specifically adds to the culture of Fargo-Moorhead? What’s unique about it?
DH: Fargo-Moorhead can be proud that it is the smallest metropolitan area in the country to have supported professional opera for nearly 50 years. Opera is all about the beauty of the human voice and the impact that singing combined with drama can have on the soul. And, it’s important to know that the voice can have this power without the need for electronic intervention. There is something special about the connection that a single human can create with his or her voice alone that can truly move the soul of every audience member — reaching to the core of our beings almost without the need for the intellect.

Is there a story you’d like to share about its impact in the community?
DH: In recent years, we have started to perform opera in more unusual venues in the community such as Rustica Tavern, HoDo Lounge and Flatland Brewery, and people have responded very positively. One couple that attended our production last season of “Speed Dating Tonight!” told us that they had never been to the opera before and might never have tried it on for size if we had not done a performance in one of their favorite local hang-outs (Flatland Brewery). Giving people a variety of ways to enjoy opera and breaking down stereotypes is important to us.

Anything else to add?
DH: FM Opera is a family-friendly live entertainment opportunity. Did you know that student tickets (K-12 and College Rush) are always $5? That’s one of the cheapest tickets for a live performance in town. With our new “North of Normal Chamber Opera” series, adult tickets are also affordable at $20-25. This is another important part of our mission: to make live, local, excellent opera also affordable in our community.

We have one family that lives in Chicago and plans their visits to Fargo around opera performance dates. For the price of just one ticket in Chicago, they can bring their entire family to see a production in Fargo. This family loves that they are able to expose their children to the arts and mentioned our productions are just as fantastic as anything they have heard and seen at Chicago Lyric.

Written by Kara Jeffers

Fargo Monthly Editor Kara Jeffers is from Garrison, North Dakota, a small town north of Bismarck, North Dakota, on Lake Sakakawea. She graduated from North Dakota State University in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in theatre arts. In addition to working at Spotlight Media, Jeffers also works at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor’s Center, where she’s one of the first people (and, at times, the only person) visitors meet when they arrive in North Dakota—talk about pressure.

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