Performing arts residency Hogfish hosted its third annual Kegs & Roses reception on the grounds of Beckett’s Castle, a historic stone cottage perched on the craggy shore of Cape Elizabeth on June 24. Let’s just say the weather wasn’t perfect; anyone on the water in that area might have been perplexed at the operatic voices coming out of the mist.

Performing “Habanera” from “Carmen,” mezzo-soprano Melisa Bonetti Luna captivated a sea of beer drinkers in rain jackets and boots. Pianist Tyson Deaton wryly remarked, “I didn’t know you could set Carmen in a James Joyce novel.”

Just over 150 guests attended the garden party sponsored by Allagash Brewing and fundraising concert that introduced a dozen professional singers – opera and musical theater performances interspersed with flamenco, salsa, hip hop and contemporary dance.

Tenor Matt Cahill and pianist Edwin Cahill opened with “A Bit of Earth” from “Secret Garden” – a favorite piece of Nancy Harvey, the former owner of Beckett’s Castle and steward of the rose garden there.

“This is a dream come true,” Matt Cahill said. He and his husband, Edwin – a concert pianist and Broadway actor who grew up in Scarborough – bought the “castle” in 2018. Three years later, they began hosting artist residencies, with vocalists coming from all over the nation to spend six weeks of summer here, creating new works, rehearsing and performing throughout southern Maine.

“They bring a bit of Broadway to Maine,” said neighbor Joe Wight, who hosted the Kegs & Roses concert on his lawn adjoining the Cahills’ rocky property.


The garden concert previewed three pieces from “CarmXn,” Hogfish’s reimagining of the classic opera that opens this week at Mechanics’ Hall in Portland. Director Edwin Cahill said, “The mission of this production is to celebrate the power of living across borders by giving new life to this enduring story of love, loss and shared humanity.”

Luna, who is Dominican American, plays an undocumented Afro-Latinx immigrant named CarmXn in a cast that is diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender roles and musical genres. The “CarmXn” cast is anchored by professionals from the worlds of opera and Broadway who are doing Hogfish residencies. The orchestra and creative team are largely Mainers, including members of Palaver Strings, co-choreographer Lindsey Bourassa and flamenco guitarist Behzad Habibzai.

Given the immigration theme of the production, Hogfish is giving tickets to asylum seekers associated with Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center. Adding to the authenticity of the production, an immigrant parent and child will appear briefly at the start of the show, representing CarmXn and her parents being separated at the border. The production includes new dialogue spoken in English and other languages, including Spanish, French and Dari.

“CarmXn” is showing Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Mechanics’ Hall on Congress Street. Come early enough to see the related art exhibition exploring connections between U.S. borderlands – and to grab a margarita. Tickets are available at

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

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