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Hunter accepted to Austrian opera summer program

Abe Hunter has been selected as one of two pianists from an international competition to play at the Tyrolean Opera Program in Mauroch, Austria. Hunter will be leaving for the shores of Lake Achen in the Tyrolean Alps in early July. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BEMIDJI - Our local young impresario, Abe Hunter is busily scheduling singers, planning programs and sending invitations for the annual Lake Bemidji Opera Fest and "Madama Butterfly" by Puccini for his own venture, The Loon Opera Co.

Both events are happening this June.

Then, in early July, the 28-year-old Bemidji man will leave the shores of Lake Bemidji for far off Lake Achen in the Austrian Alps, where he's been accepted as one of two pianists from the U.S. and Europe to participate at the Tyrolean Opera Program.

Hunter will be playing piano for TOP and working with conductors and senior coaches from Milan, Munich and Berlin in a unique summer program for singers and pianists in classical opera.

"I will be working directly with the festival founder, Elizabeth Bachman, who has directed in every major house throughout the world including the Met where she directed Pavarotti," Hunter said. "I will be also working side by side with the head coach and prompter from the Deutsche Opera Berlin."

The chosen singers will take classes in voice, acting and dance in English and German.

Much of the training is on practical skills needed for performers who will act, dance and sing in fully staged operas. Imagine a tenor who does not know how to sing and sit comfortably while wearing a full dress military uniform, including a sword, or that diva climbing a flight of stairs and managing the unruly hoops under her period costumes.

Aspiring singers will learn those practical skills and others during the 2012 summer program.

"I will be accompanying the singers in a series of recitals to be held throughout Austria," Hunter said.

The pianists will work directly with the professional staff while adding to their own repertoire. Hunter will be attending the program tuition free and his housing will be covered by a grant from the International Festival Society.

This is not the first time that Hunter has gone to Europe to study classical opera. He attended La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy, a few summers ago and made connections in the opera world that he uses in finding singers for his operas here in Bemidji.

Last summer, Hunter's production of "Marriage of Figaro" was enhanced with the addition of two singers he had met at La Musica.

This summer Hunter will be bringing in singers who have studied and performed worldwide as his young company is already gaining a reputation for solid performances.

There will be a fundraising gala in June to help off-set travel expenses.