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The Secret Garden
Opera Conservatory Performance
About the Show

August 10 at 4:00PM
Norton Hall 

Music by: Lucy Simon

Libretto by: Marsha Norman

Chautauqua Opera Conservatory’s production is directed by Marcus Shields and conducted by Julius Abrahams. 


This enchanting classic of children's literature is re-imagined in brilliant musical style by composer Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Night Mother. Orphaned in India, 11-year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the "Dreamers," spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden's compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal. 

DIrector's Note

This production of Secret Garden is 82 minutes and is cut to match the 1991 broadway original cast album. Growing up in South Carolina, I didn’t have much opportunity to travel to New York and see broadway productions so instead, I listened to and loved the cast albums as a proxy for the real experience. To this day, I think I might prefer them. I love the missing information; I love the audio first experience; and I love piecing together bits of narrative that I think might go with the song structure. The result is more abstract and engaging. It is less of an entertainment experience and more of an investigation. 

The following fragments constitute my director's note: 


I was thinking about the work of Pedro Cabrita Reis, Precious Okoyomon, and Dimitris Papaioannou. 

I was thinking about restarting. Specially, restarting after tragedy. And how the spirit to live is found in the willingness to begin again. 

Secret Garden is often misunderstood as a children’s story. It is not. It is a profound story of human suffering and spirit, observed through the eyes of children. 

I was thinking about silence and stillness and presence.

I was thinking about how often the best way to listen to music is to close your eyes, and how theatrical productions should always help enhance the listening experience.  

The production uses raw materials: water, dirt, plastic, wood, metal, glass, rubber. All are scenic and all are symbolic.

Direct titling and translation is withheld to remove distraction. This is designed as an audio first experience with an accompanying visual component.

Cast, Creative, Orchestra, & Production

Lily Craven - Juliette DiBello
Mary Lennox - Phoebe Chee
Archibald Craven - Reed Gnepper
Dr. Neville Craven - James Allen
Colin Craven - Adam Catangui
Dickon - Jackson Allen
Martha - Katie Malone
RoseNatalie Corrigan
BenJohn Potvin
Mrs. Medlock - Whitney Campbell

Natalia Adame
Whitney Campbell
James Allen
Jacob Hunter
John Potvin

Juliette Di Bello
James Allen
Jackson Allen
Natalia Adame
John Potvin
Whitney Campbell 

Director, scenography: Marcus Shields
Music director: Julius Abrahams
Musical preparation: Claudia Catania
Lighting design: John Woodey
Props: Elisa Fuentes & Wendy Ann
Costume design: B. G. Fitzgerald

Flute: Priya Fink
Violin: Jonathan Fenwick
Bass: Ben Byham
Piano/synth: Chris Staknys
Leadership & Staff

Director of Opera Conservatory: Marlena Malas

Conservatory Faculty:
Dominic Armstrong
Elizabeth Bishop
Jonathan Beyer
Claudia Catania
Rhoslyn Jones
Liza Armistead
Martin Dubé
Maxine Davis
John Giampietro
Donna Gill
Kanae Matsumoto
Jinhee Park
Christopher Staknys
Shiyu Tan
Yueqi Zhang

Special Thanks


The Chautauqua Opera Company
Steven Osgood
J.P. Woodey
Michael Baungarten
B.G. FitzGerald
The Lenna Crew
Joseph Futral
Sarah Malinoski-Umberger
Suzanne Fassett-Wright
Timothy Muffit
Joe and Toni Goldfarb
Donna Gill
Matthew Rose
Maxine Davis
Hale and Judy Oliver
Ethan Hines
Taylor Brennan