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Posted: Oct. 29, 2012 at 6:05 p.m.
ANN ARBOR - Orchestras are expensive. Just ask the board of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Ann Arbor's Comic Opera Guild needs a good one to do its major production, an American premiere of Franz Von Suppe's "Light Cavalry," and so it has turned to crowd funding to help pay the bill.
The project, on kickstarter.com, seeks investors in the Guild's production, pledging as little as $10 to receive dividends, including CDs, tickets, signed photos and more. Currently, the company is only a third of the way toward achieving its goal of $5,000. If the goal is not reached by Nov. 21, no funding will be received.
Crowd Funding is a new concept on the internet that allows people and groups to seek project investment from the wide web audience. Kickstarter.com is one of the largest crowd funding sites, providing categories that include technology, fashion, and publishing, as well as music and theater.
The Guild decided that raising money for its upcoming show was a perfect fit for kickstarter.com, even though most of the projects on the site tend to appeal to younger viewers. Many of the participants in Guild productions are younger singers and instrumentalists, and they are just as passionate about classical music as others are about pop. It is also critical that younger people become the new audience for classic theater.
The show is also ideal for the site because of its uniqueness - the only production of the show ever to be done in America. "Light Cavalry" is an early Viennese operetta that is known today only by its overture, which can be heard regularly in pops concerts, movies and commercials. It is a clever romantic comedy, and will be performed in Ann Arbor's Lydia Mendelssohn Theater, Feb. 7-9, 2013, with full cast, chorus and orchestra.
The show has historical significance in that it was the first operetta to incorporate Hungarian themes. But more than that, it has a sophisticated and tuneful musical score that has been unjustly neglected. Although it has been revived occasionally in Europe, it has never been performed in North America, and certainly not in English. COG's performance will result in the first complete recording ever made of this show, which is part of what investors will share in.
While nationally investors will only be able to see the final product in DVD form, people in Southeast Michigan can also see the show live during its run at Mendelssohn Theater. For this reason, the Guild hopes local people will click this link and help it meet its goal of $5,000. This is especially important, since, as part of the way the site works, if the goal is not met, all the investment pledges are cancelled.
More information on the show appears on the Guild's web site: www.comicoperaguild.org.