Curtain closes on Oak Park opera club

Verismo cancels final performance of 'Madama Butterfly'


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

An Oak Park opera group has announced that it's closing curtain and canceling its last show, blaming the economy.

Verismo Opera Theatre, which got its start about a year ago, announced on Sunday afternoon that it is closing. The nonprofit had sent out a call on Friday, saying it needed to quickly raise $10,000 by Monday. That effort proved unsuccessful, and they decided to cancel their next show, Madama Butterfly, scheduled to debut in July.

Founders Yasmeen and Bradley Schuller started the company in March 2010, hoping to create a place for young opera singers to gain experience. Their last performance, of The Magic Flute earlier this year, was a success. But this time around, ticket sales and donations were lagging, said Yasmeen Schuller, who is also the managing director.

Madama Butterfly is a big production — with 20 people in the cast and chorus, along with costumes and a big set. Schuller said it was probably too much to tackle for such a small company.

"In retrospect, we were probably a little too young to take on something so big," she said, adding, "It was probably more from our hearts than our heads."

Verismo is now working to refund ticket sales to its patrons. Schuller, who works as a digital marketing manager, said she and her husband plan to "enjoy our summer" and "sleep better" after the stress of running an opera company.

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MoreBronze from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 7:53 AM

He's back at the computer...Les "all about me" Golden...once more piling on after the fact with an alleged idea that he himself (and no one else) is capable of formulating. The king of the contrarians...


Posted: June 22nd, 2011 12:32 AM

Les, You wouldnt want to use any TAX dollars would you?

Les Golden from op  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 9:38 PM

Unfortunately, the Schuller's apparently like to act alone. Since 1984 I've been pushing for a fine and performing arts center in conjunction with a restaurant park/cultural center. Forest Place, Holley Court, River Forest at Lake/Harlem, Oak Park at Lake/Harlem, and most recently South Blvd./Harlem. Here's the latest mockup -- for Oak Park performing arts & conference center. WE've never heard from the Schuller's although we've gotten publicity in both papers.

Yasmeen Schuller from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2011 3:05 AM

The issues surrounding the show were a bit more complex. I granted the interview because there are some serious issues with starting a non-profit arts organization. Here are a few: 1. Venue - very few options therefore the prices are very high. Oak Park needs a modern, affordable arts center - more than building a hotel/condo building. 2. Very little grant money, new organizations can't apply for 2-3 years. Community support and donations are critical to non-profits.

kathryn jonas from oak park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 10:10 PM

My daughter and I were very much looking forward to Madama Butterfly and are sad to learn that you had to cancel the show. We heard your group perform at Day in Our Village and were impressed with the talent of the singers. We've had a symphony for 80 years and it was exciting to know that now we would also have a home grown opera theatre. Please do not give up. What you are trying to do adds great value to this community.

Stuart Leitch from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 6:40 PM

Yasmeen is right: Butterfly was a big project for a small company. After you rest up I hope you'll try again. Best wishes!

Ellen Plourde  

Posted: June 20th, 2011 2:37 PM

So sorry to hear this! Yasmeen and Bradley, I wish you all the best!

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