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This article was prepared for the February 25, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

After the Festival, Opera Remains

New Jersey’s rich musical landscape lost a little of its luster last November when the board of trustees of the Opera Festival of New Jersey (OFNJ) announced that its 20th annual season had been its last. Faced with a debt of around $700,000, founding chairman Jack Ellis, who had modeled the festival on England’s famed Glyndebourne, reluctantly announced the board’s decision.

Once OFNJ made its decision, its affiliated volunteer guild found itself facing a similar decision, for a different reason. Without its namesake opera company to support, should the OFNJ Guild end its supporting role, despite a promising first year and a half, both in growing membership and funding? "The answer was a resounding ‘No,’" says Jean Brown, former president of the OFNJ Guild and now president of a new, successor organization, Princeton Friends of Opera (PFO), a group with no direct tie to any individual company.

After taking a pulse about the fate of the OFNJ Guild from members of its executive committee, Brown discovered there was strong support for creating an organization to give voice to the interests of opera lovers in this area. "We chose to form as an independent entity because we want to support new, creative opera education projects, and performances by other groups in the mid-Atlantic region," says Brown.

The new group was born at the last official OFNJ Guild event, a holiday party in December hosted by vice-president Pam Bristol. Since then PFO has been recruiting new members and making plans for 2004. After just two months’ existence, PFO has 40 individual and household memberships. Berit Smith, who oversees PFO membership, says the rapid growth underscores community interest.

PFO activities began in February with a group outing to attend a production of "Don Carlo" at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. On Sunday, March 28, PFO will sponsor an abbreviated children’s version of Mozart’s "The Magic Flute," presented by New Jersey Opera Theater, at the Suzanne Patterson Center in Princeton. Children are encouraged to attend (accompanied by an adult), and a few will participate in walk-on parts. On Saturday, May 1, members will gather for a garden party at the home of one of its members, then attend Westminster Choir College’s production of "Little Women."

"It’s exciting to see how much interest we have generated in such a short time," says Brown. "We are discussing sponsorship opportunities with other institutions and more regional opera trips."

To join the PFO, learn more about its activities, or to receive a copy of its E-mail newsletter, call 215-493-6876.

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Off Broadstreet Theater seeks a young woman in her early 20s, a women in her mid 40s, a young man in his early 20s, a man late 20s, and a gentlemen in his mid 40s, for their upcoming productions of "Wrong Turn at Lungfish" and "Murder by the Book." Call Robert and Julie Thick at 609-466-2766 for appointment.

Participate Please

Trinity Episcopal Church, 33 Mercer Street, announces its grant application schedule and guidelines. Applications are now available, with a return deadline of March 19. Awards will be announced in late June. Grant awards range from $500 to $2,000. Applications will be considered from secular or faith-based non-profit organizations that provide human services in the greater Mercer County area. Some international projects are also considered. New organizations, and established groups starting new projects in need of programming seed money, are welcome to apply. Priority is given to projects that serve disadvantaged populations in our area. For guidelines and application, contact Cathy Wheeler at 609-921-3065 or Include "Trinity Grants" in e-mail subject line. Organizations needing help in preparing the application should make the request well in advance of the March 19 deadline.

American Cancer Society seeks volunteers for Daffodil Days Flower Sale to package and prepare orders on Tuesday to Thursday, March 23 to 25. They also need volunteer drivers to deliver orders. Call 800-ACS-2345.

Fresh Air Fund seeks families to house disadvantaged children from New York City. Call Betsy Bloemeke at 609-448-1027 for information or visit

Call for Entries

Dramatists Workshop Series at the Peddie School invites New Jersey playwrights to submit works for consideration for public reading in the 2004-2005 season. Submit works to CAPPS, Dramatist Workshop Series at the Peddie School, Box A, South Main Street, Hightstown 08520, or E-mail Deadline is Thursday, April 1.

The Photo Review, a highly acclaimed critical journal of photography, is sponsoring its 20th annual photography competition juried by Katherine Ware, curator of photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Awards include publication in Photo Review, Microtek ScanMaker i900 scanners, a $350 gift certificate from Calumet Photographic, and $500 in cash prizes. An entry fee of $25 for up to three prints or slides, and $5 each for up to two additional prints or slides, entitles all entrants to a copy of the catalog. All entries must be received by mail between May 1 and 15. For a prospectus and details, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: The Photo Review, 140 East Richardson Avenue, Suite 301, Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047. The prospectus may also be downloaded from The Photo Review website,; or call 215-891-0214.


Princeton Wild Oats Market seeks prom dresses in good condition for a their second annual prom dress drive, co-sponsored with YWCA Princeton and Tender Hearts of Hamilton, an organization for needy and disabled community residents. Girls will be invited to select dresses at Tender Hearts. Dresses may be brought to any one of the three sites. Call Katie DeTurk at 609-924-4993.

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