Opera NH has been working hard to reach a younger audience.
“And by younger, we mean people younger than 50,” Opera NH’s new president, Jean Esslinger, joked during an interview at the Palace Theatre. “As an incoming president of Opera NH, I was looking for ways that I could reach out to other organizations who are trying to reach out to similar audiences. … I realized that the New Hampshire Institute of Art has been really growing in some unique ways.”
Indeed, NHIA has recently taken in students and faculty from Chester College, and even more recently, partnered with Sharon Arts in order to expand its reach and its opportunities for art students.
“We’re always looking for very interesting subject matter. … We’re constantly joining with other arts organizations, collaborating with them for events and projects,” said Jim Burke, chair of the illustration department at NHIA.
You’ll see the result of this partnership on the walls of the reception gallery at the Palace Theatre. NHIA students were prompted to create work inspired by either Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), which played at the Palace on Feb. 3, or Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), which shows at the theater on March 3. (Le Nozze di Figaro is the sequel to Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, so many of the characters are the same.)
The reception gallery is open during all Palace shows, and the work presented offers a multitude of media and designs. Jessica Rowell, for instance, went with a collage design containing a pair of scissors, a landscape image and a male and female silhouette on each scissor handle. The image was pieced together with needle and yellow thread. Allison Cleghorn painted a traditional oil image: it depicts a beautiful woman (Rosina) and three men climbing her hair in the race for her affection.
The winning piece was created by Brittany Inglese. It’s a digital piece, containing just a handful of colors. It too contains a pair of scissors, as many of the designs did, but here it’s used as a way to break up the space. We see Rosina above, Count Almaviva courting her below, almost in a Romeo/Juliet stance. To the side, we see another character, Dr. Bartolo, with a ring (he and Count Almaviva are both trying to win Rosina’s affections). While the design itself was important, one of the reasons Inglese’s design was chosen was her pre-planning.
“I did something digitally, because to me, graphic art is the way to go with a poster. It’s cheaper to print, and mine contained only four or five colors,” Inglese said.
There was a great deal of trial and error before she arrived at the finished product; she made six different versions of the same poster with different color palettes. She also researched the clothing that they’d worn during this time period.
Another trick in designing for marketing purposes: keep it simple.
“It was our first project for our illustration class. We were given a brief synopsis on the sequel. We were only given the bare minimum in the prompt,” Inglese said. “You don’t want to get too detailed, or else the idea will get too lost.”
Inglese won a scholarship through Opera NH because of her artwork, and the other students whose work is showing can reap the benefits of their efforts, too; each piece is for sale, a handful of which have already been purchased. You can see the artwork on display in the Palace Theatre reception gallery until March 3.