Cape Elizabeth few welcome doing artists to their castle

Edwin and Matt Cahill sit in front of Beckett’s Castle on the Cape Elizabeth coastline, the residence of their Hogfish artists’ retreat and education middle. Carl D. Walsh/Workers Photographer

Matt and Edwin Cahill were being hunting for a place in Maine, a location to get away from the frantic tempo of New York City and to commence a retreat for fellow executing artists. What they discovered, unexpectedly, was a castle.

The couple’s residence search about four many years in the past included a check out to Beckett’s Castle, a 148-12 months-aged Gothic-model household large higher than the rocky shore of Cape Elizabeth. It at first went on the current market in 2017 for additional than $3.3 million and was in want of substantial repairs and renovation.

“When we walked in, I saw this hooked rug that (the prior operator experienced remaining) that said ‘a rose is a rose,’ which was on the to start with card Matt at any time gave me,” stated Edwin Cahill, who grew up in Scarborough. “I appeared at him and stated, ‘I want to die in this article. How can we do this? Let us promote anything.’ We didn’t even consider about the restoration. We’re artists, we just looked at the beauty of the put. Then we were being like, ‘What have we carried out?’ ”

The Cahills purchased the dwelling in 2018 and are using it as the foundation for Hogfish, a retreat and performing artist coaching enterprise they established. This summer months marks the company’s initially season, internet hosting singers and other artists from all around the world. The group’s first manufacturing, a re-imagined edition of an 18th-century French comedian opera, will be carried out Friday and Saturday at Wolfe’s Neck Middle in Freeport and Sunday at Ram Island Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

The 1-hour general performance of “L’Arbre Enchante,” which signifies “The Magic Tree” in English, is about the electric power of love beating greed. Edwin Cahill is directing and has tailored the story with Maine figures, including a penniless paperboy from Presque Isle and a degree-headed lobsterwoman from Lewiston.

Matt Cahill sings and functions the function of the inadequate boy. It has a solid of about a dozen, accompanied by an orchestra. The music are in French, but Edwin Cahill has translated dialogue into English. Soon after each and every overall performance, a deejay will play an digital new music version of the rating for a dance celebration showcasing viewers and forged.

Hogfish, an artists’ retreat and instruction middle at Beckett’s Castle in Cape Elizabeth, is internet hosting accomplishing artists from all over the world this month. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer


The thought at the rear of Hogfish, the Cahills say, is to have about a dozen or far more accomplishing artists from all around the world come to Beckett’s Castle for a handful of months each individual 12 months to relaxation, recharge and work on their crafts. A 50 % dozen or so can remain in the castle – regardless of the grand identify it’s much more the measurement of a huge cottage – and additional can continue to be at a board member’s residence up coming door. Performers analyze and function on their personal tasks when collaborating on a person group challenge, which this year is “L’Arbre Enchante.” They can also commit time in mother nature, such as the property’s expansive rose backyard and the rocks and ocean, just a number of methods absent.

“Often artists go to the metropolis (for research) and their artwork displays that,” claimed Matt Cahill. “But right here they can be in nature.”

Edwin and Matt met about 10 several years ago for the duration of a generation of “L’Arbre Enchante” at Hearth Island Opera in New York, a corporation Edwin Cahill launched. They ended up married about four a long time in the past, in Maine.

Edwin Cahill, 46, grew up in Scarborough, in which both his mom and dad ended up lecturers. He carried out in large university and neighborhood theater, such as at Portland Players and Lyric Audio Theater in South Portland, prior to getting levels in voice from the New England Conservatory of Tunes in Boston and in French from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He has worked as a theater director and producer around the nation, and as a concert pianist and Broadway actor.

Matt Cahill, 37, grew up in the vicinity of Baltimore, Maryland, and got levels in voice from The Juilliard Faculty and vocal arts from Bard University Conservatory, both equally in New York. He has carried out at Carnegie Corridor and in productions about the entire world. He has acted in Tv set and movies and also teaches, which includes at a Juilliard summer software and for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The few say they will proceed to commit time in New York, but look at Beckett’s Castle their residence. Even though it is referred to as a castle, simply because of the tower and Gothic search, the dwelling is a modest 1,900 square toes, and the rooms are cozy and cottage-like. The sights of the ocean from numerous of the rooms, as effectively as from the lawn and backyard, are remarkable. Artists remaining there can stroll a small route to the rocks, wherever they can sit and replicate or just take a dip in the water.

Accomplished in 1874, Beckett’s Castle was designed as a summer months cottage by law firm and poet Sylvester Blackmore Beckett. The residence features a three-story tower that was employed as a navigational help for ships moving into Portland Harbor. Beckett hosted other writers and artists at the home, and the creating itself has been the issue of a lot of artists. It was listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Spots in the 1970s.

Matt and Edwin Cahill bought Beckett’s Castle four decades ago and have made it their home and an artists’ retreat. Carl D. Walsh/Personnel Photographer

By the 1980s, it experienced fallen into disrepair. Nancy Harvey, a Portland social employee, acquired the household in 1982 and restored it, including rose gardens as well. Harvey died in 2016, and her estate offered the dwelling to the Cahills in 2018. The sale cost was $2.6 million, in accordance to the Cape Elizabeth assessor’s database.

The Cahills have been amazed at how individuals in Maine have embraced them and their vision for Hogfish, which includes other area businesses and artists and men and women who have volunteered to develop into board users. Edwin Cahill suggests he finds it specially gratifying to feel so welcome in his property state, due to the fact as a youthful homosexual man in Maine in the ’90s, that wasn’t generally the situation.

“I under no circumstances believed back then I’d be dwelling here, with my husband, and experience so welcomed,” Edwin Cahill said.

Hogfish board member Paula Volent, who life up coming to Beckett’s Castle, has been impressed with the Cahills’ plan of melding performing artists and nature and generating one more avenue in Maine for distinctive forms of arts – which includes new music and opera – to flourish. Volent is web hosting some of this summer’s Hogfish artists at her residence this month.

“I believe their suggestions about the regenerative electrical power of nature and its influence on the arts are fantastic,” stated Volent, who was main investment decision officer at Bowdoin School in Brunswick for extra than 20 years in advance of taking a position at Rockefeller University in New York last 12 months. “I really like that they are sharing this superb oceanfront property of theirs with so lots of other people.”

One of the artists in home at Hogfish this thirty day period who is in the cast of “L’Arbre Enchante” is Maria Brea, an opera singer dependent in New York City. She claimed the time she’s used in the vicinity of the ocean at Beckett’s Castle, with the Cahills and other performers, has helped her with her craft in quite a few means.

“We’ve been in a position to be in mother nature and to join with the environment through our senses, which is important to an actor,” mentioned Brea, who will be touring to the New Orleans Opera when she leaves Maine. “Edwin and Matt are just the most good folks and their intention is to make this open and peaceful inclusive vitality, which helps make them seriously stand out.”

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