Boerum Hill/ Gowanus

Opera finds new, younger life at performances by LoftOpera

Loft Opera
Figaro, Figaro, Figaro, check out this awesome party. Photo by Athena Azevedo

There’s a new house party in Brooklyn, and it involves no body paint or midnight fish tacos. Before you say, “Hey wait, I actually like fish tacos”, you need to hear this: deep in the heart of the borough, there’s an opera scene brewing. And if you listen hard enough, you can detect the musical vibrations of BK’s best new startup. It’s called LoftOpera, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Akin to a good New Years’ resolution, LoftOpera was founded in January of 2013 (but unlike that promise you made to jog the Prospect Park loop every morning, this plan actually stuck). Duo Dan Ellis-Ferris and Brianna Maury started a Brooklyn-based opera company in response to a felt need for a ‘cooler’ classical repertory scene—which apparently wasn’t as obscure as one might think.

How does one make opera ‘cool’? Easy. Stage it in a loft (in Brooklyn, duh), abridge the libretto to a tolerable length, and serve beer & wine at $5 a pop. Essentially, it’s opera-meets-house party for the masses.

loftopera performance
They used to just dress like this anyway, so they joined the opera. Photo by Athena Azevedo

The organization isn’t just about audiences, though—it’s for the artists. “People are basically begging to make this music,” says Dan of the company-focused group. “But it’s a buyer’s market.” At odds with pay-to-sing artist programs or musical waiter gigs at Marie’s Crisis, baritones and soprano singers alike can find hip solace in LoftOpera’s highly curated community of (paid!) musicians.

So if you’re an underemployed singer or musician, this might just be what you’ve been waiting for all your life. LoftOpera hosts open auditions and casts incredible new talent, since the niche for young, hip opera is pretty much just them. The best part: they pay their artists before themselves (a.k.a. a big ethical thumbs-up). Shoot ’em an e-mail at info [at] to be added to the list for the next round of auditions.

That all said, the audience experience is wild and well worth the $20 ticket. Communal benches, up-close-and-personal arias, a live band playing in the corner and a panoramic view of the F train… it doesn’t really get any better. The venue transitions seamlessly after the show, and the performers stick around to shmooze and have a drink. So far the loft locus has been Gowanus, but the company envisions a portable repertoire that can pop up in any loft that will take them.

Finally put that band geek past to use. Photo by Athena Azevedo
Finally put that band geek past to use. Photo by Athena Azevedo

It’s also a swan song for startups that don’t involve a dating app or microchip technology. LoftOpera is proof that if you can put ideas to action, you’ll find the community your art has been looking for.

If you’re curious, check out LoftOpera’s upcoming show, Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”, running November 7th-9th at 9PM in the Gowanus Lofts (61 9th St, Loft C8)

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