Festival, Musicals, Opera
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IT ALL STARTED WITH… a question asked by Lani Riches as she and her husband returned from a delightful trip to the Santa Fe Opera Festival in 1990. David Armstrong, then Mayor of Natchez, agreed to call a meeting of the community at Staton Hall’s Carriage House. It was there that Dr. David Blackburn was charged with the task of preparing a conceptual plan of Natchez. When the plan was presented at the Monmouth Plantation Historic Inn later that year, the Festival was born.
The stars had aligned perfectly–this was meant to be. How else could anyone explain the events immediately after the Riches returned from Santa Fe? At the time, the Riches were the owners and proprietors of the Monmouth Inn. Over dinner, they struck up a conversation with Natchez local Buzz Harper, and the Blackburns who just happened to be staying at the Inn... Learning that Dr. Blackburn was a well-respected Opera professor and conductor working in New York…Or that two of the performers from the Santa Fe festival were singers in Dr. Blackburn’s studio back in New York…Or that Dr. Blackburn’s schedule was flexible enough at that very time to meet with the leadership in Natchez… Natchez had in Dr. Blackburn a wonderful gentlemen, who was not only the co-founder and first Artistic Director of the Festival, but who also become a committed Natchez resident.
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