Keeping Up With the Schermerhorns

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OK, so Nashville Opera doesn't have a concert hall like the Schermerhorn, or for that matter a sugarmama like Martha Ingram. Still, Nashville Opera is about to get a new $6 million headquarters building, the company will announce this morning. The 26,000-square-foot Noah Liff Opera Center will be located on Redmon Street in West Nashville. Among other things, it will contain an opera studio for rehearsals, a garden, education center and board room. The company's news release is reprinted below. Nashville Opera's first production of the season is the steamy and romantic Samson and Delilah. You can get more information and tickets here. NASHVILLE OPERA UNVEILS PLANS FOR NEW HOME

Raise Your Glasses Campaign Will Finalize Capital Efforts for the Opera's Headquarters and Community Programming

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville Opera ushered in a new era of drama, spectacle and artistic distinction today as the company unveiled plans for the Noah Liff Opera Center and the Fund for Artistic Excellence. The Opera's $12 million Raise Your Glasses capital campaign will fund the visionary $6 million opera center, the first-ever permanent home for the community-supported nonprofit organization, which has established a reputation for eminence in the 400-year-old art form here in the nation's Music City.

The Raise Your Glasses campaign, which has already garnered three-fourths of its $12 million goal, will also provide for the Fund for Artistic Excellence. The Fund will augment the organization's ability to expand its education and outreach programs and enhance the artistic quality of its productions.

"We are on the verge of unprecedented success and are reaching out to those who love opera and those who share a vision for the arts in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee," Joanne Hayes, chair of the campaign, says. "We invite the community to �raise their glasses' to see Nashville Opera in a new way and to participate in this landmark campaign. In a city globally renowned for its live musical offerings, Nashville Opera stands poised to move to the next level of artistic greatness."

Designed by Earl Swensson Associates, the 26,000-square-foot Noah Liff Opera Center will be situated next door to the Nashville Ballet headquarters. The innovative multi-purpose facility will include office, studio and warehouse spaces, as well as large community spaces for special events. Specific facility highlights include:

� The Opera Studio � an expansive, transformational, state-of-the-art space designed for opera rehearsals, performances and other special events
� The Patron Room and Entry Gardens � a glass-enclosed patron room and lush entry gardens, all designed with special events potential in mind
� The Music Education Resource Center � a community resource especially designed for students, teachers and others interested in the art of opera
� Community Board Room � a multi-purpose space for use by Nashville Opera's staff, its Board of Directors, patrons and community members seeking a unique venue for intimate special events and corporate meetings

Already at nearly $9 million, the Raise Your Glasses campaign benefited during the
"silent phase" from gifts from longtime Opera lovers and Nashville arts patrons. In honor of her late husband, Noah, Judy Liff Barker made the lead gift for the building, while an anonymous donor made a $3 million challenge grant, which will provide the initial funding for The Fund for Artistic Excellence, Nashville Opera's production, community outreach and education arm.

"To note the cultural impact Nashville Opera makes in Nashville and beyond, and then to understand that never in the history of the company have they embarked upon a capital campaign or established a permanent home, it's astounding," Barker says. "This company has done so much with so little, and we will be delighted to see what they will be capable of accomplishing with this new home and endowment for enhanced programming."

The Fund for Artistic Excellence will enable Nashville Opera to dedicate resources to the enhancement of its main stage productions to feature more world-class artists and richer set designs and to increase collaboration with performers and musicians. Additionally, the Fund for Artistic Excellence will allow the company to further extend its reach through the Nashville Opera Education Tour, the Mary Ragland Young Artist Program and an alternative series of lesser known productions and new works to be staged at the Noah Liff Opera Center.

"My late husband Noah Liff was a great supporter of the Nashville Opera," Judy Liff Barker says. "After his passing, my family and I wanted to honor his memory by supporting the Opera in a permanent way. Providing the leadership gift for this enormously important project would have given him immense pleasure."

Since coming under the leadership of Carol Penterman, executive director, and John Hoomes, artistic director, in 1995, the company has increased its operating budget from $400,000 to over $2.4 million and increased audience attendance a dramatic 350 percent. In 1997, Nashville Opera merged with Tennessee Opera Theater and the Nashville Opera Guild to form the Nashville Opera Association.

Nashville Opera Association is the largest opera company in the state of Tennessee and one of the fastest growing opera companies in the United States. It has been honored by opera's national service organization, Opera America, in each of the past three years for innovation and outstanding excellence. Each season includes four main-stage productions, a six-week tour to area schools, a three-month Young Artist Residency Program, a scholarship program in collaboration with area universities for graduate degrees in vocal performance, as well as numerous community outreach programs.

About Nashville Opera
Nashville Opera is a community-based, locally-funded nonprofit organization dedicated to creating legendary productions and programs. Its main stage performances at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center play to more than 17,000 people annually, last season playing to an average of 94 percent capacity. The Opera's extensive education and outreach touring program will reach an additional 25,000 students in 18 counties in Middle Tennessee.

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