Music: Shoestring Opera

The famed Edinburgh Festival was bottom-heavy with big-name performers —the Royal Philharmonic and Boston Symphony orchestras, the Hamburg State Opera and Sadler's Wells Ballet—as well as big-name composers—Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Mozart. But hidden in a corner of the old city, not officially part of the festival, was a tiny, six-member U.S. troupe putting on three tiny U.S. operas in the Y.W.C.A.'s Gartshore Hall (capacity: 165). The troupe: Manhattan's After Dinner Opera Co., out to show Europe what could be done on a shoestring.

Last January, when Edinburgh's new Director Robert Ponsonby invited the...

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