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Article Published June 19, 2019
Alan Mann: Making a Home for Opera on the Shoreline
Eric O’Connell, Staff Reporter

Alan Mann was born in Montreal, lived in New York and London, but for almost four decades he has called Clinton home.

“I love the intimacy. The fact that when you go to the supermarket you see people you know,” Alan says.

During his time in Clinton, Alan has become known to many for his work in bringing professional arts to town, and his continuing work in supporting artistic endeavors.

Alan is the artistic director for the Opera Theater of Connecticut. The group was founded in 1986 “to provide professional artists with the vital opportunity to realize their talents in the practice of their crafts, to provide access to the performing arts to a wide audience by presenting high quality productions at an affordable price, and to bring the performing arts into communities not regularly serviced by Performing Arts companies,” according to www.operatheaterofct.org.

The company uses Clinton’s Andrews Memorial Town Hall as its mainstage.

Opera wasn’t always Alan’s main interest. While studying in the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Alan’s interests lay elsewhere.

“I was interested in theater, but I fell in love with opera,” he says.

Opera has afforded Alan the ability to travel from locations s from Lincoln Center and Broadway in New York City to London’s West End and The Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

“It was really quite exciting for me as a young man,” says Alan.

However, after Alan married his wife Kate, Alan wanted to cut down on his travel to be around his family. The couple began exploring the possibility of bringing opera to their town, and found that the acoustics of the town hall were more than adequate.

“It’s a phenomenally designed hall for the kind of music we do,” he says.

The feedback he gets from patrons one of the most rewarding parts of bringing high-caliber opera to Clinton.

“People come up to me and say wonderful things,” says Allen.

Another part of the company Alan enjoys is the fact that the company truly is a family business.

“That, for us, is amazing—to look out and see families together,” explains Alan.

Alan says that over the years they’ve had entire families in the cast before—”We take the idea of family business very seriously.”

In the beginning, Alan recalls it was sometimes difficult explaining what the concert series is—professional singers showing off their craft, not community volunteers.

“It was quite a new as a concept to some,” Alan says.

However, over time people have caught on and look forward to the shows every year.

“It’s an amazing experience,” he says.

Starting on Tuesday, Aug. 6 and continuing on Thursday, Aug. 8, Saturday, Aug. 10, and Sunday, Aug,. 11, the company will perform L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love), a romantic comedy sung in Italian with English supertitles. Tickets, which range from $35 for students to $55 for adults, can be purchased at www.operatheaterofct.org/shows/2019-season/, where patrons can also sign up for boxed suppers from Chips Pub III for al fresco-style dining on the town hall lawn before the show ($15) or for a pre-opera talk by Alan ($5).

Besides the opera company, Alan is also contributing to Clinton by working to help get an art council started. Earlier in the year the town formed an arts district, and it is the hope that an arts council will work to help support the district with aspects such as programming for long term sustainability and economic vitality.

“It’s important to let people who live in Clinton what is here and what is going on,” Alan says.

Alan says that in asking around town, he found that many people in town don’t realize the plethora of arts offered around them.

“It’s important that all these organization get together and support what’s going on in the town.”

As for hobbies outside of work, Alan is the executive director of the Hartford Choral, and also applies his artistic talents to other parts of his life.

“I’m a grill master,” she says. “I do everything from beef to vegetables to even dessert.”