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Established by Marla Forbes in 1996; the Highland Park Opera Studio brought classic opera to the North Shore suburbs at a modest price. The Opera Studio's articulated mission was "to produce high quality, creatively narrated and edited opera, in an intimate and convenient North Shore location." The organization produced a variety of programs in local theaters and school auditoriums, including Fra Noi, Madam Butterfly, Traviata, Die Fledermaus, The Magic Flute, La Bohème, the Barber of Seville, and the Marriage of Figaro. The organization's named evolved to Opera Theater of Highland Park. The name changed to Opera Theater North in 2004.
Originally described as an “upstart crow” in comparison to the other local opera houses in the area, the Highland Park Opera Studio partnered with the Lyric Opera House of Chicago, the Highland Park Cultural Arts Commission, schools, and other local businesses to champion the support and education of the fine arts in Highland Park and environs. The Highland Park Community House served as performance location for the first 5 years, later expanding to other venues such as the North Shore Center for Performing Arts in Skokie and schools.
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