Not everyone relishes dressing up to the nines just to brave the elements in New Jersey in December. If you’re one of those who would rather see someone else wearing black tie and tails on New Year’s Eve than donning your own, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and State Theater are offering New Year’s Eve Operafest for music lovers of all sartorial persuasions. Billed as a perfect fit for those who like to sing along to "La Traviata" in the original Italian — and for those who can’t tell their Strauss from Springsteen — the program features opera’s best-loved songs, presented concert-style by performers in full formal dress.

The program of music by Puccini, Mozart, Lehar, and Strauss, includes arias, ensembles, and orchestral selections from such perennial favorites as "Carmen," "The Barber of Seville," "Don Giovanni," and "Der Rosenkavalier." Backed by the impressive and innovative Princeton Symphony Orchestra, the show spotlights a quintet of internationally-recognized singers. Carrying the tunes will be Jamie Baer, soprano; Serena Benedetti, soprano; Todd Thomas, baritone; and husband and wife Marc Embree (bass-baritone) and Jane Bunnel (mezzo-soprano). The performers have the graced stages of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, and toured across Europe.

The State Theater program is designed to provide ample time for dinner at any of New Brunswick’s top-drawer restaurants and a return trip home to watch the midnight ball drop in Times Square from the cozy comfort of the great indoors.

New Year’s Eve Operafest, Princeton Symphony Orchestra , State Theater, New Brunswick, 732-246-7469 or toll free 877-STATE-11. Online at $25 to $55. 8 p.m.

Holiday Events

Hogmanay New Year’s Eve Bonfire, Lawrence Historical Society , Brearley House, Meadow Lane, Lawrenceville, 609-895-1728. In the Great Meadow of the historic house, a traditional "Hogmanay" New Year’s Eve bonfire. Hot chocolate served. Free. 6 p.m.

Classical Music

New Year’s Eve Concert, Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra , Patriots Theater, War Memorial, Trenton, 609-396-5522. Guest conductor Sabin Pautza and pianist Christopher Johnson join the GTSO for a New Year’s Eve concert that features such symphonic and popular favorites as Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 2 and Khachaturian’s "Sabre Dance." $25 to $65. 8 p.m.

Folk Music

New Year’s Eve Sing, Princeton Folk Music Society, Private home, Grovers Mill, 609-799-0944. In a longstanding tradition, Folk Society members greet the New Year with song and midnight pot-luck supper. Bring your instrument and a pot-luck dish to share. Call Justin Kodner for membership information and directions. 8 p.m.

#h#At the Theater#/h#

My Favorite Year, Villagers Theater, 475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, 732-873-2710. Second Annual New Year’s Eve Benefit is a revue of vocal selections from Villagers musical productions of the past 15 years. Buffet and a midnight Champagne toast follow the late show. Tickets for a 7 p.m. performance only, without the buffet are $20. Tickets for the 9:30 p.m. performance, and festivities $45. 7 and 9:30 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Benefit Gala, Crossroads Theater, 7 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-545-8100. Crossroads Theater Company presents its Second Annual New Year’s Eve Gala with entertainment and a party mid-way through the company’s 25th anniversary season. $125. 8 p.m.

Caught in the Net, Off-Broadstreet Theater, 5 South Greenwood Avenue, Hopewell, 609-466-2766. New Year’s Eve performance of the Ray Cooney madcap comedy. Desserts served at 7 p.m., curtain at 8 p.m. By reservation, $24. 8 p.m.

#h#Dining Out#/h#

New Year’s Eve Celebration, Amalfi’s Cuisine, 146 Lawrenceville-Pennington Road, Lawrenceville, 609-912-1599. Special menu, open bar, music, Champagne toast, noisemakers. $190 per couple. 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Amarone’s Windsor Inn, 29 Church Street, Windsor, 609-448-7144. Food, wine, and entertainment by Danny Love. Three seatings available. By reservation. 8 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Gala, Baldassari Regency, 145 Morris Avenue, Trenton, 609-392-1280. Festive dinner and dancing. By reservation. 7 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Crystal Garden, Hyatt Regency, 102 Carnegie Center, 609-987-1835. Four course dinner, dancing, DJ, balloon drop at midnight, party favors, Champagne toast. By reservation, $120 per person. 6 p.m.

Catch a Rising Star, Hyatt Regency, 102 Carnegie Center, 609-987-1835. Four-course dinner with comedy show featuring Danny Bevins, party favors, Champagne toast, DJ, and dancing. Headliner Bevins has opened for Andrew Dice Clay and appeared on both the Leeza and Jenny McCarthy shows. Reservation, $155 per person. 8:30 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Diamond’s Riverside, 1140 River Road, West Trenton, 609-882-0303. Dinner, open bar, midnight toast, late night buffet, DJ Steve Corleto. By reservation, $125 per person. 8 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Doral Forrestal, 100 College Road East, 609-452-7800. Gala celebration include dinner, open bar, Champagne toast, continental breakfast, and disc jockey entertainment, $199 per couple. With overnight accommodations and brunch, $349. 6 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Forsgate Country Club, 375 Forsgate Drive, Jamesburg, 732-656-8912. Celebration includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, open bar, Champagne toast, and a four-course gourmet dinner. Starlyte Music, a seven-piece band led by Terri and Steve Gutkin, features music from the 1940s to the present. By reservation, $250 per couple. 8 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dancing, Hopewell Bistro, Starlight Room, 15 East Broad Street, Hopewell, 609-466-9889. Festive dinner and dancing to the Acme Music Quartet playing jazz standards with vocals. Two seatings. By reservation. 7 and 10 p.m.

Times Square in Trenton, KatManDu, Waterfront Park, Route 29, Trenton, 609-393-7300. New Year’s Eve Ball features El Ka Bong, with DJ Michael T, and an audience-friendly stage show that is part of the party package. Party includes buffet, open bar until 1 a.m., and Continental breakfast. By reservation, $65. 8:30 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Rusty Scupper, 378 Alexander Road, 609-921-3276. Dinner selections and specials including filet mignon and lobster tail. Music by Karen Zumbrunn Jazz Duo. Champagne toast. By reservation. 5 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Celebration, Tre Piani Ristorante, Forrestal Village, Plainsboro, 609-452-1515. Cocktail hour, five-course dinner, Champagne toast, and dancing to music by Miracle. By reservation, $85. 6 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Westin Princeton, Forrestal Village, 609-520-6280. Culture Club party includes open bar, hors d’oeuvres, DJ with dance music, Champagne toast for $75 per person. With overnight room accommodations and breakfast, $310 per couple. With dinner at Bimi, $395. By reservation. 9 p.m.

Hot Spots

New Year’s Eve Dance Party, John & Peter’s, 96 South Main Street, New Hope, 215-862-5981. New Year’s Eve Bash with the music by the Red Rovers, plus hats, horns, party favors, & Champagne toast at midnight. By reservation. 8 p.m.

Gladys Knight, Resorts, Atlantic City, 800-736-1420. Ticketmaster. $65 and $75. 10:45 p.m.

Michael Loftus, Improv Comedy Club, Resorts, Atlantic City, 800-736-1420. Comedy with Mike Irwin and Ant at 8 p.m., $30. Late show, with party hats and Champagne, $40. 8 and 10:30 p.m.

Delivery Boys, Havana, 105 South Main Street, New Hope, 215-862-9897. 8 p.m.

Terry Gillespie, Bucks County Comedy Cabaret, 625 North Main Street, Doylestown, 215-345-5653. New Year’s Eve comedy with Mary Frances Connelly and Steve Zorbales. $25. 8:30 p.m.

Danny Bevins, Catch a Rising Star, Hyatt Regency, 102 Carnegie Center, 609-987-8018. Comedy. Reservation. 8:30 p.m.

New Year’s Eve Party, Conduit, 439 South Broad Street, Trenton, 609-656-1199. Sin Thursdays presents Synthesis 2004 With DJs: Blackwidow, Zillah, Vortex, Ian Ford (NYC, Downtime), and the Azoic. In the Skyline Room, Gaian Mind. Party to 6 a.m. $20. 9 p.m.

New Year’s Eve, Harvest Moon Brewery, 392 George Street, New Brunswick, 732-249-6666. Rock in the New Year with Clever Hans. 10 p.m.


The North Brunswick Adult Drama Group has auditions for its 34th annual musical, "Jekyll and Hyde," onstage March 4 to 6, 2004. The show features a large cast and no experience is necessary to be part of this popular theatre program, sponsored by the Department of Human Services. Director Michael Hritz will hold auditions in the Faculty Room at North Brunswick Township High School on Wednesday, January 7 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, January 10 at 10 a.m. For more information, call 732-247-0922, extension 475.

Patriots Theater at the War Memorial invites singers, musicians, and dancers to sign up to audition for "Showtime at the Apollo." Auditions are Friday, January 9, from 6 to 9 p.m., for 12 finalists to perform in Trenton on February 27. The winner moves on to compete at the Apollo Theatre in New York City. Call 609-984-8400.

Roxey Ballet seeks professional dancers with a strong modern and contemporary base for the 2004-05 season. Send a headshot, resume, video, and two letters of recommendation to Box 251, Stockton 08559. Auditions will be held on Saturday, February 29, 243 North Union Street, Lambertville. Call 609-397-7616, ext. 809 for information.

VSA Arts of New Jersey seeks actors from diverse backgrounds, with or without disabilities, to audition for Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town." Auditions are on Tuesday, January 20, and Thursday, January 22, at North Brunswick High School, from 7 to 9 p.m. For appointment call Valerie Grier at 732-745-3885.

#h#Participate Please#/h#

Dorothea’s House, 120 John Street, Princeton, offers Italian language classes for children and adults, at all levels on Saturdays or Wednesdays. New 15-week series begin Wednesday, January 14. Cost for series is $75 children, $112 adult. To register, call 908-359-1564 or E-mail

#h#Donations Please#/h#

Crime Stoppers of Greater Trenton team up with author Janet Evanovich to raise money to fight crime. A $5 donation provides a chance at winning a grand prize package that includes a character named after the winner in her next book, two nights at the Trenton Marriott, dinner for two with the author at a restaurant in Chambersburg, and an autographed copy of the book. For information visit website: or call 609-393-5933.

#h#Entry Deadline Extended#/h#

Trenton Film Society has extended its submission deadline for the "Films of the Trenton Film Society." Filmmakers may submit their short films (under 30 minutes) by Wednesday, December 24, for the juried event to take place on Friday, January 16 at the Trenton Marriott Hotel. For details and entry form see website:

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