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Bennett College Opera?

Sneak Preview
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Fri Aug 19th, 2016

This past Thursday afternoon at Grace Episcopal Church a small group rehearsed scenes from an opera about Millbrook’s historic Bennett College.  While the plot of this setting was not disclosed, it was evident that Joshua Groffman’s music was compelling; three female actresses sported good voices:  sopranos Danielle Messina and Maggie Finnegan and mezzo soprano Jennifer Panara, conducted by Daniela Candillar.

It was clear that director Kelvin Chan has both a keen ear and eye as he directed gestures, pacing, tonal voice emphasis, and floor blocking. As a conscientious director, he appeared capable of conjuring mood. Book is by poet Sarah Heady, who has had the resources of The Millbrook Historical Society at her disposal. Several former students from Bennett College attended this rehearsal.

The good news is that this opera is in English, yet English at times so stretched into high notes that I and others felt a need for the crutch of a libretto. The project is being developed by Vital Opera which seeks to cultivate human connection through the medium of operatic expression. Their goal is to strengthen the bonds of compassion through the exploration of opera as a vital presenter of truth. You can find more information about them at

Tickets for Saturday’s 5 pm performance at Grace Church are $10. They can be purchased online at