By Wilma Allen
If you’re an opera buff thirsting for music close to home, or a craft beer connoisseur with a taste for the unusual, get ready for Halloween tricks and treats in The Broom Closet at Disco Witch Brewery, just over the Shave Bridge in Yulee.
The Broom Closet will host Amelia Island Opera’s presentation of the spooky musical masterpiece, “The Medium,” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, Oct. 20-22. “The Medium” was first produced in the 1940s by Gian Carlo Menotti, an Italian composer best known for his Christmas musical, “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” AIO founders,Victoria Isernia, Robyn Marie Lamp, and John Tibbetts II, and three visiting soloists, will sing their parts in English with a rousing piano accompaniment. In keeping with the Halloween spirit, “The Medium” features seances, ghosts, madness, murder, and mayhem. But beware, it may be too scary for kids.
AIO was formed just two years ago after its three stars moved here in 2020 when their careers were sidelined by theatre closings during the COVID-19 pandemic. They became friends, and when COVID restrictions eased, they decided that rather than resume traveling the country for short-term engagements in New York, Utah, Miami and elsewhere, they’d rather start an opera movement here. In just two years, they’ve held more than a dozen concerts on the Island to enthusiastic, growing audiences.
Disco Witch also got its start in 2020, after owners Shelly and Jeff Denis retired and decided to take up home brewing. They soon branched out and opened a tap room in a shopping plaza at the corner of SR 200 and Blackrock Road. Patrons can choose from draft beers made in house, other assorted ‘fun’ beers, cider, non-alcoholic beer, seltzer, bar food and gluten-free options. Their slogan, “Where funky beer and funky beats collide,” reflects their relaxed, down-home style. Since opening, they added The Broom Closet for overflow crowds, events and specialty nights as diverse as paint and ceramics classes, beer yoga, karaoke, bingo, and now even professional opera. This last may be a risky experiment, but the organizers deserve a big hand for their mixed brew of fresh ideas and innovation.
If you prefer your opera in a more traditional setting, AIO and the Amelia Community Theatre are staging “A Night at the Opera” on Oct. 27 and 28. This will be a gala affair with wine, hors d’oeuvres, opera and musical theater favorites from composers Giacomo Puccini, Andrew Lloyd Webber and more.