New Arts Council Bringing Opera to Whitefish

By Beacon Staff

With its numerous theaters and various types of artistry throughout, the Flathead Valley is already an arts destination in the Northwest. And now, a new nonprofit in Whitefish hopes to continue this tradition by bringing fresh and different performances to the area.

The Whitefish Arts Council just received its nonprofit status this year, and has a relatively simple mission, according to member Carol Atkinson: To promote and facilitate a strong and vibrant artistic community.

Part of that goal is to promote entertainment options for different sections of the arts spectrum. With that in mind, the first major event for the arts council is to bring an art form they thought was being overlooked in the valley: Opera.

“Turns out there are tons of opera lovers in this part of the world,” Atkinson said in an interview last week.

Many of these fans will drive considerable distances, even in the winter, to get their operatic fix, she said.

“We’re making their lives a little bit easier,” she said.

The Whitefish Arts Council will present high-definition performances of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2013-2014 season, beginning in October. Six of the 10 performances will be shown live on Saturday mornings, Atkinson said, as part of a broadcast out of New York City that reaches 64 countries and millions of people simultaneously.

The Metropolitan Opera is one of the foremost in the world, and has an 80-year tradition of broadcasting its performances, first through radio and now via visual media, according to the opera’s website. Many of the “Live in HD” performances will also be simulcast on the radio.

In order to facilitate these HD performances, the Whitefish Arts Council raised enough funds to buy the necessary equipment. Atkinson led the charge as the group’s fundraiser, and said most of the equipment has already been ordered.

The operas will be shown at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, and due to scheduling conflicts on some of the Saturday opera performances, four of the shows will be shown on a Friday evening, Atkinson said.

While the Friday night shows won’t be live, they will provide the audience with the opportunity to treat the events like traditional evenings at the opera.

“People can dress up, go to dinner and come to the opera,” Atkinson said.

Cosse Fan Tutte at The Met. | Photo courtesy of the Met

The Met: Live in HD schedule consists of 10 shows by some of the world’s most-famous masters, and is as follows: Saturday, Oct. 5: “Eugene Onegin” by Tchaikovsky; Saturday, Oct. 26: “The Nose” by Shostakovich; Saturday, Nov. 9: “Tosca” by Puccini; Friday, Dec. 27: “Falstaff” by Giuseppe Verdi; Saturday, Feb. 8: “Rusalka” by Dvorak; Saturday, March 1: “Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin; Friday, March 28: “Werther” by Jules Massenet; Saturday, April 5: “La Bohème” by Puccini; Friday, May 16: “Cosi Fan Tutte” by Mozart; Friday, June 13: “La Cenerentola” by Rossini.

For this first season, tickets will only be available at the door, for cash or check. Saturday performances begin at 10:55 a.m., and Friday shows are at 7 p.m.

With the opera marking the art council’s first performance, Atkinson said the group is also working behind the scenes to build a new website for the Whitefish Performing Arts Center, which will give a schedule of performances of all types at the PAC.

Atkinson said the website, which should be up and running in the near future, will also give a layout of various performance venues in Whitefish, providing artists and performers with an idea of the size, seating capacity, equipment and availability.

“It’d be nice for (a performer) to go to a website to see what’s available,” she said.

That web address will be www.whitefishpac.com.

With a way to aggregate information for the betterment of the arts community and new performances on the way, Atkinson said the Whitefish Arts Council is off to a good start.

“It is exciting,” she said. “It’s something that’s been a goal for a small group of people for quite a while.”

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.