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‘Orfeo’ to launch Season 2 at Marigny Opera Ballet

After an inaugural season of sellout performances and critical acclaim, Marigny Opera Ballet has announced the lineup for its second season.

The newly formed resident dance company, whose home base is the Marigny Opera House in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, will be staging four productions between October and May. All of the dancers, choreographers, designers and other principal support personnel are New Orleans residents.

Marigny Opera Ballet will open its 2015-16 season Oct. 2 with “Orfeo,” a full-length ballet based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, god of musicians and poets, and the subject of five major operas beginning with Claudio Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo” in the early 1600s.

The production will feature an original orchestral score by local composer Tucker Fuller. The 13-piece chamber orchestra will perform the new score under the direction of newly appointed music director Francis Scully. The production designer will be Academy Award-winning designer C. Robert Holloway.

Other productions during the season will include:

A full-length “Christmas Concerto” (Dec. 10-13) to the music of baroque composers Arcangelo Corelli and George Frideric Handel, with new choreography by Donna Crump, Nikki Hefko and Maritza Mercado-Narcisse.

“E merging Choreographers” (March 18-20) featuring new works by promising local choreographers.

“ Program 4 — Mixed Repertory” (May 13-15) featuring audience favorites from the company’s inaugural season, along with a new work to be announced.

Resident dancers are Trey Mauldwin, Anna Iosipiv, Donavan Davis, Kellis Oldenburg, Phillip Rush, Gretchen Erickson and John Bozeman. Choreographers for the coming season include rehearsal director Maya Taylor, Donna Crump, Nikki Hefko and Maritza Mercado-Narcisse.

Housed in the former Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which was built in 1853 and deconsecrated in 1997, Marigny Opera Ballet was founded in 2014 by Dave Hurlbert three years after he purchased the building along with Scott King. Hurlbert serves as executive director of the renamed Marigny Opera House and director of Marigny Opera Ballet.

“We’re here to stay,” Hurlbert said. “Our plan, well over a year ago when we started organizing, was to have a full-time dance company. Now, to my knowledge, we’re the only full-time dance company in New Orleans with a full season of productions.

“One of our goals was to stop the talent drain in New Orleans,” Hurlbert said. “A lot of the dancers and choreographers here are very well-trained but they’ve got nothing to do once they decide to become professional. A lot of them go to California and New York. So we wanted to keep them here and also attract new talent, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Extensive restoration work has been done to the former church’s interior and 50 more seats have been added, bringing the capacity up to about 200. Substantial improvements have also been made to the hall’s lighting system, Hurlbert added.

The facility offers free classical ballet classes twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for older dancers on the intermediate and advanced levels, but it is not a school for teaching beginners, Hurlbert said.

In addition to dance, other events are envisioned for the Marigny Opera House this coming season.

Among them are monthly performances by the newly founded Crescent Chamber Artists, who will be singing classical and a cappella works, plus performances by soloists and established choral groups.

Bass-baritone Ivan Griffin is slated for a late September concert and Opera Creole is being lined up for October.

Monthly jazz concerts are also in the planning stages, Hurlbert said.

Subscription tickets for Season 2 of Marigny Opera Ballet are available now, via online sales only, at Single tickets will go on sale in September.

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