WINTER HARBOR — The recent production of Mozart’s “Magic Flute” may be the only in history where many of the audience were wearing boat shoes. Some earlier may have been out on the water sailing on Frenchman Bay.
While Hammond Hall is a far cry from the MET, the wood-frame landmark’s stage and excellent acoustics sufficed for the Winter Harbor Music Festival to stage its first opera on Aug. 18.
In its 10th season, the festival brings chamber music and choral musicians to the Schoodic Peninsula for two weeks every summer. Some are students while others are professionals who perform across the nation and abroad.
Pianist and baritone Deiran Manning is the festival’s music director. He is pursuing a master’s degree in piano performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
“This is my favorite opera. I grew up listening to it,” Deiran said. “And it’s a good way to introduce people to opera in a place where they wouldn’t normally see it [live].”
Manning also is festival co-founder Deirdre McArdle’s son.
“This was his baby,” McArdle said. “He just loves opera.”
Manning, who played the role of Papageno in “The Magic Flute,” began work on the opera production last January. He translated portions of the dialogue from German to English and assisted with the costumes.
A summer resident of Gouldsboro, McArdle is a flutist who founded the festival with flutist Carol Wincenc and pianist Gena Raps. McArdle also directs directs the 92Y Orchestra in New York and has served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and Bowdoin College.
Many of the performers know Manning from school; others were invited by McArdle or Wincenc.
“Students and amateurs learn from being next to each other,” McArdle said. “And we’re able to reach people and allow them to pursue their dreams.”
The festival is a chance for a diverse group of people of various skill and experience levels to work and learn from each other. On Aug. 18, “The Magic Flute” came together in a rousing performance.
“This is a great chance to be able to do what I really love,” says Jarrell Strickland, who played the comic villain Monostatos. “The opportunity to be around all of these people, in rehearsal, on stage, with people I admire.”
Living and performing together also makes the festival a very intimate experience.
“By the end I’d say we’re basically like a family,” said Omar Bowey, who had the role of Tamino.
Bowey, who came up from New York for the festival, also enjoyed the open environment and the interaction between all the performers.
“There wasn’t a lot of rigid structure, so everyone was encouraged to explore their creativity and learn from everyone else.”
As the curtains closed, many of the chamber musicians and singers were already looking forward to doing another production next year.
“I can’t wait to be back,” Strickland said.