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Amherst-based Valley Light Opera moves performances to Northampton

  • Graham Christian, stage director and choreographer for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", talks to his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Graham Christian, stage director and choreographer for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", talks to his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Aldo Fabrizi, musical director and conductor for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", leads his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Aldo Fabrizi, musical director and conductor for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", leads his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Donna Griffin, as Lady Ella, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Donna Griffin, as Lady Ella, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kathy Blaisdell, as Lady Jane, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS<br/>

    Kathy Blaisdell, as Lady Jane, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS
    Purchase photo reprints »

  • Alexandra Ghiz, as Lady Saphir, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Alexandra Ghiz, as Lady Saphir, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, front, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, front, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Maxey as Patience, front, rehearses.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Elizabeth Maxey as Patience, front, rehearses.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matthew Roehrig, right,  in his role as The Colonel, rehearses with cast members for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience."<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Matthew Roehrig, right, in his role as The Colonel, rehearses with cast members for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience."
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Matthew Roehrig, as The Colonel, left, and Jonathan Evans, as The Duke, right, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Matthew Roehrig, as The Colonel, left, and Jonathan Evans, as The Duke, right, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ted Blaisdell, as Reginald Bunthorne, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Ted Blaisdell, as Reginald Bunthorne, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Cast members of Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" rehearse Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst. In the photo at left, Ted Blaisdell rehearses his part as Reginal Bunthorne. In the photo at right, Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Cast members of Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" rehearse Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst. In the photo at left, Ted Blaisdell rehearses his part as Reginal Bunthorne. In the photo at right, Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Graham Christian, stage director and choreographer for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", talks to his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Aldo Fabrizi, musical director and conductor for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience", leads his cast during rehearsal Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Donna Griffin, as Lady Ella, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kathy Blaisdell, as Lady Jane, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS<br/>
  • Alexandra Ghiz, as Lady Saphir, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, front, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Elizabeth Maxey as Patience, front, rehearses.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Matthew Roehrig, right,  in his role as The Colonel, rehearses with cast members for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience."<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Matthew Roehrig, as The Colonel, left, and Jonathan Evans, as The Duke, right, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Ted Blaisdell, as Reginald Bunthorne, rehearses for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, and Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Cast members of Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" rehearse Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst. In the photo at left, Ted Blaisdell rehearses his part as Reginal Bunthorne. In the photo at right, Elizabeth Maxey, as Patience, and Owen Hayden, as Archibald Grosvenor, rehearse.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anju Soparkar Diggs, from left, Marese Hutchinson, Elizabeth Chilton, Elysse Link and Kathryn McGrail rehearse for Valley Light Opera's production of "Patience" Oct. 18 at Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

For the first time since its founding in 1975, the Valley Light Opera will have a new home for its fall show, Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Patience” or “Bunthorne’s Bride.” For 38 years, the Amherst-based opera has performed at Amherst Regional High School, but, starting this month the group will take the stage at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

“Patience” will be presented Nov. 3-10 at the historic theater located at 274 Main St.

The nonprofit VLO produces light opera, especially the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Over the years, the group has produced all 14 of the G & S operas, as well as many other works. The VLO presents a fully staged opera in the fall, and-less formal productions in the late winter or early spring. Organizers say they expect future shows to take place at the Academy.

It’s a move that’s been a longtime coming, says VLO board member Jonathan Evans.

“Aesthetically it is much more pleasing, and the acoustics are better,” he said, referring to the Academy.

Graham Christian, the show’s director and choreographer says he’s thrilled with the move.

“It’s a beautiful space. It’s a theater built to be a theater, not an auditorium or a barn,” he said. “And it has a marquee!”

Organizers say they expect the venue change to Northampton will offer greater exposure for the group.

“Northampton is a destination city,” Christian said. “You can come to the city for the evening, have a nice meal, take a stroll and end up at the theater. Our old place was a high school, it was not a destination location.”

Evans, who will play Lieutenant, The Duke of Dunstable in “Patience,” says finances played a role in the VLO’s move.

“It got to the point where the cost of performing at the Academy was comparable to what it was costing to perform at the high school,” he said. Admission prices, he added, will remain comparable to what they were at the high school. Seating capacity is roughly the same in both venues.

Groovy London

“Patience” focuses on two rival poets who are each in love with Patience, the village milkmaid. The opera, which premiered in 1881 at London’s Opera Comique, was W.S. Gilbert’s satirical jab at the Aesthetic craze in art, dress and literature, which begat Swinburne, the art of Whistler and velvet suits.

Valley Light Opera has transported the setting to groovy 1960s London, “another era of affectation in looks, manners and feelings,” Christian said, including “Twiggy, The Who and, well, velvet suits.” The “Swinging Sixties London” rendition will make “Patience” more accessible to contemporary audiences, he added, “without losing the fun and spirit of Gilbert’s original satire. ... It will be full of crazy dance and pratfalls and eye-popping colors.”

As Christian has put the cast through its paces, he’s introduced “a lot of things that I dare say, you won’t see in other productions of ‘Patience,’ ” Evans said.

Nevertheless, Christian says, the show is still quintessential Gilbert and Sullivan.

“The traditionalists will love Sullivan’s music as they always have,” he said, “and we hope that both they and our newcomers will be delighted by a fresh approach to the material.”

“Patience” will be performed Nov. 3, 9 and 10 at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Nov. 4 and 10. Tickets cost from $10 to $22. To reserve, call 584-9032, ext. 105, or visit www.academyofmuisictheatre.com.

Through a VLO sponsorship program, a percentage of the opening-night receipts will be matched and donated to the Northampton Community Music.

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