In the news: Princeton’s OPERAnauts partners with MCCC students

In the news: Princeton’s OPERAnauts partners with MCCC students

(Mercer Community) On May 7, the student teams presented their final work before a panel of judges including Bechtler, Dana Lichtstrahl, whose company, Naked Insights, leads group and individual trainings, and Ken Greenberg, of HG-Media, a digital marketing communications company. The judges were clearly impressed with the results. “It was not easy to judge when everything was so good,” Bechtler told the students following their presentations. “It’s very touching to me how you picked up on the ideas we are trying to convey. We appreciate your time and creativity, and for taking this project to heart.”   Read more. . . 

Every Step Counts – Walk for Kids in Congo

Reply with Music 5k Walk Team Memebers Kai Gibson, Nick Kochmann, Alistair Dobson, Leo LaPlaca and Niccolo Bechtler at the amphitheater of Pettronello Gardens, NJ

OPERAnauts’ Reply with Music 5k Walk Set-up Team Members Kai Gibson, Nick Kochmann, Alistair Dobson, Leo LaPlaca and Niccolo Bechtler at the amphitheater of Pettoranello Gardens, NJ




Every Step Counts – Walk for Kids in Congo at the Princeton “Reply With Music” Annual 5k Walk


PRINCETON, NJ – A local music NGO will host community residents and high school students in their first annual “Reply with Music” 5K Walk for children in Congo at 9 AM on Sunday, September 25th.


The “Reply with Music” 5K Walk is open to the public and welcomes on-line registrants at There is also registration on the day-of the “Reply with Music“ 5k Walk.


“From my experience teaching singers all these years, our ‘Reply with Music’ 5k Walk touches the CORE of what I believe — that we can inspire and engage children with opera music!” says Joy Bechtler, founder of OPERAnauts Inc.


OPERAnauts is a team of performing artists, artisans, and creative artists – including opera singers, musicians, dancers, photographers, videographers, journalists, and designers — who envision a world where the transformative power of opera helps both individuals and societies recover from violence and poverty.


There are an estimated 100,000 street children in Kinshasa, the capital city-province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has been estimated that one in ten child soldiers – or 30,000 children – are found.


Studies show that traumatic life experiences like the ones currently experienced by children in Congo cause them to lose the ability to understand and share the feelings of one another. OPERAnauts aim to give opportunity and restore empathy to these children through music.


100% of donations go to OPERAnauts’ music program to help children in Congo. For more about OPERAnauts’ activities, visit their website at


OPERAnauts, Inc. is a non-profit corporation based in the U.S., with a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status and registered in New Jersey operating exclusively for charitable and educational purposes. Contributions to OPERAnauts, Inc. are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.



Monroe Village Will Host Unique Opera Program

Contact: Evelyn Goldin (609) 720-7253

Monroe Village Will Host Unique Opera Program; Residents Benefit As Senior Community Provides Rehearsal Space and Living Accommodations

After rehearsing at Monroe Village, opera project will perform in New York and ultimately stage performances in Congo, Africa

MONROE TOWNSHIP — July 30, 2013 — While access to learning, arts and culture are a part of everyday life at Monroe Village, residents of this senior community will enjoy a uniquely immersive experience in early August.

OPERAnauts, a Princeton opera company, will hold a rehearsal and a performance at Monroe Village, as well as a costume presentation. Additionally, two performers from the company will live at Monroe Village for nearly a week. The company will prepare and perform “La Petite Carmen,” a one-hour version of the classic opera, Carmen.

“We are always looking for creative ways to connect seniors and the arts,” said Joseph T. Claffey, Senior Vice President of the Springpoint Senior Living Foundation, which helped bring the opera and Monroe Village together. “This collaboration is wonderful for our residents and it’s great that we can support the OPERAnauts as well,” Mr. Claffey said.

In their time at Monroe, the OPERAnauts will be preparing for an August 11 performance at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. Ultimately, the company will bring “La Petite Carmen” to the nation of Congo, where OPERAnauts founder Joy Bechtler spent most of her childhood. For more information about OPERAnauts, please visit their website,

Two of the OPERAnauts events at Monroe Village are open to the public but an RSVP is required. Please call 609-720-7304.

Costume Presentation, August 7, 1:30 pm. Hear from the La Petite Carmen costumer designer about how the costumes were designed and created, and see sample costumes.

Open Rehearsal, August 8, 11:30 am. Listen and enjoy the music while OPERAnauts artists rehearse in preparation for their performance of La Petite Carmen.

Monroe Village, a full-service retirement community, is affiliated with Princeton-based Springpoint Senior Living, New Jersey’s leading not-for-profit senior housing provider. To learn more, please

The Springpoint Senior Living Foundation Accessible Arts initiative works with arts and culture partners to make expansive repertoire of arts and cultural disciplines are more readily available and accessible for older adults. To learn more about this program and upcoming events

La Petite Carmen taps global cast for U.S. Premier in NYC

Contact: Bernadette Teeley
Contact Email:
Opera uses production process to heal and build communities


OPERAnauts to Congo announces its United States premier to be held August 11th, 2013 at 7:30 at Le
Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St, NYC). The premier is the capstone of two years of
community-building efforts designed to promote peace and build unity—a model that will be
implemented in the war-ravaged communities in the Congo in 2014 with a goal of teaching youth a
technique for coping with violence and aggression in their own lives, while spreading hope and peace
to all people through music.

The OPERAnauts will perform La Petite Carmen; its own adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen arranged to
underscore the senselessness of violence. The New York premier is a collaboration of artists and
creatives across the US. and Canada. The Congolese productions will similarly tap local creative
artists. OPERAnauts’ field work in Congo will include music instruction at Congolese schools and
partnerships with the local orchestra.

The US premier models the community- building approach: music is the bridge, uniting people of
many cultures. Performing artists and creatives from across the country and Canada have united for
the performance: mezzo-soprano Catherine Anne Daniel, tenor Tod Kowallis, bass-baritone Martin
Hargrove, and soprano Joy Bechtler will perform opera roles in La Petite Carmen while six musicians
from the tri-state area will perform as the music ensemble. Seamstresses in Kinshasa (Congo)
hand-made fabrics; international fashion designer Aruna Arya used the fabrics to create the costumes;
artwork and graphic design from Philadelphian artist Sophie Sarkar; Africa-inspired choreography in
the production by award-winning choreographer Aya Shabu.

Tickets are $100-$25 and benefit the OPERAnauts to Congo. Tickets are available on-line at and at the box office.

OPERAnauts to Congo uses music as a social change agent in Congo to reverse the cycle of violence,
poverty and disease. Founded in 2012, OPERAnauts’ mission is to present opera, a powerful musical
art form, to urban youth and adults to demonstrate the collaborative and community-building
process of producing a premiere event. Founder of OPERAnauts, Joy Bechtler was raised in the Congo
and now resides in Princeton, NJ.