Singers from the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program perform at Morris Knolls HS, near Picatinny Arsenal. Photo by Todd G. Mozes, courtesy of Picatinny Arsenal
Picatinny Arsenal was a unique situation - a lightly populated base in a rural New Jersey community. So what to do? The base thought creatively, and embraced the performance as a way to strengthen bonds with the local community. Staff at Picatinny Arsenal worked closely with the local high school to host the performance in the Morris Knolls High School auditorium. During the day, approximately 450 enthusiastic students attended a performance by singers from Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, followed by a question and answer session.
For the evening concert, the base had more requests for tickets than they had seats in the auditorium, despite a 1,200-person capacity. The performance included arias, duets, trios, and ensemble selections from operas Die Zauberflote, Carmen, La bohème, musicals Guys and Dolls, Carousel, and Candide, and a couple of zaruelas to round out the program. Highlights included the "Watch Duet" from Die Fledermaus and "If I were a bell" from Guys and Dolls.
The audience was entirely engaged with the performance, observing acute silence during performances and offering ringing applause following each song. Teachers said that it was terrific to have such a high-quality level of performance made available to their students. Personnel from Picatinny Arsenal were delighted to be able to share this experience with the surrounding community, adding that the community has embraced the military installation and they were pleased to give back to the community.
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