As big as Opera Maine’s grand summer gala is, everything about it leads into an even bigger production: Gioachino Rossini’s “La Cenerentola (Cinderella)” July 27 and 30 at Merrill Auditorium.

“This is a different take, not your Disney Cinderella,” said board member Rosemary Harris of South Portland. “I’m really excited about it. Opera Maine is an incredible opera company for its size. It’s productions are outstanding, every bit as good as anything I ever saw at Washington National Opera.”

With no fairy godmother to work her bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, production costs for the upcoming mainstage production of “Cinderella” include $27,000 for sets and lighting and $16,000 for costuming. The June 17 gala at Falmouth Country Club raised $38,000 to get “Cinderella” ready. The gala opened with a wine pull named after Cinderella’s greedy stepfather, Don Magnifico, and guests finding their tables labeled with the names of opera characters such as Violetta, Gilda, Carmen, Santuzza and Susanna. The bartender stayed busy mixing up the blue signature cocktail called the Dirty Cinderella.

In between the dinner courses – with a surf-and-turf combination of lobster tail and filet as the star – guests enjoyed a sampling of some of opera’s greatest hits. Soprano Sarah Tucker (who has performed nationwide since her debut as Adina in Opera Maine’s “The Elixir of Love” in 2021) and baritone Marcel Sokalski (who performed as Bassett in Opera Maine’s “Rocking Horse Winner” earlier this month) sang three stunning solos each and three duets. Selections included pieces by Charles Gounod, W.A. Mozart, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Stanislaw Moniuszko, Franz Lehar and Rodgers and Hammerstein, sung in French, Italian, Polish and English.

“Opera Maine is really impressive,” said Jane Johnston, who lives in Boothbay in the summer and is a season subscriber of Metropolitan Opera in the winter.

The silent auction included lithographs by Spanish artist Antoni Claré, vintage jewelry by designer Ann Hand and Bottega Veneta vintage bags. The more than a dozen live auction items included several getaway excursions, a print by award-winning photographer Kevin Schochat and group foodie experiences like a tour and dinner with Bangs Island Mussels and a pasta-making class and dinner with Solo Italiano. A 15-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon went for $2,700.

If this all sounds a bit expensive, check out the Opera For All program, which offers free tickets for audience members who are 25 or younger as well as first-responders and active-duty military and their families (

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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