Nichols House Museum to Reimagine Historic Opera Performance

The next installment of the Nichol House Museum’s “Nichols After Dark” series on Thursday, March 14, will harken back to the past with a reimagining of Metropolitan Opera singer Louise Homer’s 1902 performance at the historic townhouse.

Considered one of the most gifted and popular opera singers of the early 20th century, Homer (1871-1947) was married to the second-cousin of Rose Standish Nichols, the venerable landscape architect who bequeathed her home at 55 Mount Vernon St. and belongings to become the Nichols House Museum upon her death in 1960. Homer achieved international acclaim during her tenure as a member of the Metropolitan Opera from 1900 to 1919, and her most notable role was Amneris in Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida.

In March of 1902, the Nichols family hosted a musicale starring Homer in their home, with many “proper Bostonians” in attendance, including Isabella Stewart Gardner. And while the evening’s program remains unknown, Laura Cunningham, the Nichol House Museum’s programs and collections coordinator, said the upcoming event would offer a “fresh take on experience in spirit of Louis Homer and the Nichols family.”

Said Cunningham, “We wanted to recreate the event, but in a way that is friendly to more contemporary audiences.”

The performance will feature soprano Jacqueline Novikov, a Boston-based concert performer, recording artist and voice teacher with degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Manhattan School of Music.

“Jacqueline is really committed to the idea and seems to be perfect choice for not only embodying the spirit of Louise Homer, but also doing it in a way that’s contemporary and rooted in 2019,” Cunningham said.

For the performance, which will include five arias from Homer’s repertoire, Novikov will be joined by pianist Yelena Beriyeva, a distinguished artist and the director of Chamber Ensembles at Clark University.

Meanwhile, Campbell said the unique musical event would be the most ambitious installment to date of the  “Nichols After Dark” series, which was piloted in the fall of 2017 “with the idea of reimagining programs that we have traditionally offered and develop one that allows people to engage with the museum in a less-formal way and expand on their interpretation of the traditional house tour.”

Unlike past “Nichols After Dark” programs – like “Dearly Departed: Death and Mourning in 19th Century Boston,” which allowed guests to visit the museum’s mourning-clad period rooms and learn about the grieving practices that took place in the home; and “Corsets and Courtships,” which celebrated romantic courtships between Arthur and Elizabeth Nichols, as well as Margaret Nichols and Arthur Shurcliff, and featured historic undergarments on loan from the National Society of Colonial Dames – the upcoming installment will involve performance art as opposed to being a purely visual experience.

“With this program, we wanted to do something multi-sensory,” Campbell said. “Typically, people just use their eyes to view art, but we wanted to gave an event that included aspects of listening, as well as a performance.”

The next installment of “Nichols After Dark” programming series on Thursday, March 14, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nichols House Museum, located at 55 Mt. Vernon St. Tickets are $45 each general admission and $40 for Nichols House Museum members; visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nichols-after-dark-a-night-at-the-opera-tickets-54981891317 to purchase tickets.

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