The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison Opera has a lot to celebrate at its 12th annual FREE “Opera in the Park” concert on this coming Saturday night.

July 11, 2013
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

By any account, The Madison Opera has had a great year and can rightfully celebrate a lot of things at this Saturday night’s 12th annual FREE outdoors concert Opera in the Park in Garner Park on the far west side of Madison.

Opera in Park 2012 stage

(The park will open at 7 a.m. with blankets, chairs, food and glass-less beverages alcoholic and non-alcoholic are allowed; free parking is provided; the concert, featuring the company’s artistic director John DeMain conducting soloists and the Madison Symphony Orchestra plus the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Youth Choirs, starts at 8 p.m.; the rain date in Sunday.)

John DeMain conducting 2

Here is a link to information about the Opera in the Park concert, which includes Broadway musical theater as well as opera. (For the program, click on “Synopsis” – which, since there is no plot, should really read “Program”:

http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2012-2013/park/

So, just what will the Madison Opera be celebrating?

Let’s start with the mammoth undertaking of putting together the Opera in the Park for a dozen years. It takes a lot of research, hard work planning, to say nothing of a lot of loudspeakers and porta-potties, to bring off an event that draws more than 10,000 people.

Then there is last season.

While there were few total sell-outs, attendance was very good and the Madison Opera scored both artistic and financial successes with Verdi’s “Un Ballo in Maschera,” Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” (the first Handel opera, or masque, the company has staged, below in a photo by James Gill) and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

acis gill galatea set

Then, as usually happens with Opera in the Park, the group will be previewing and celebrating its upcoming season, which features Puccini’s famously melodic “Tosca”; Donizetti’s bel canto, tenor-busting work “La Fille du Regiment, ”known for its show-stopping nine high C’s (in a famous  YouTube video at bottom with tenor Juan Diego Florez); and Jake Heggie’s dramatic and timely “Dead Man Walking” (bel0w).

Here is a link to the brochure for next season:

http://issuu.com/madisonopera/docs/1314brochure/1

Dead Man Walking

After two seasons of programming, General Director Kathryn Smith (below) – who gives wonderfully witty, accessible and informative pre-concert talks — is finally getting to leave her own stamp on the opera season, and it is a recognizable stamp that announces she will be eclectic and mix the old and new, the classic and popular masterpieces with lesser known works.

Kathryn Smith Fly Rail Vertical Madison Opera

Here is a link to the next season:

http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2013-2014/

But there are other things you many not be aware of.

For one the Madison Opera received a $25,000 grant from OPERA America’s Building Audiences for Opera program. It was one of only 13 opera companies chosen out of 67 applications nationwide to receive such a grant.

And perhaps mostly invisibly but most importantly, the Madison Opera has moved its headquarters from the old Neckerman Insurance Building on Monroe Street to the new headquarters, the Madison Opera Center, near the Overture Center at 335 West Mifflin Street.

Madison Opera Center

This major project also has storage space for sets and costumes that is nearby to Overture Hall and The Playhouse where the Madison Opera stages its shows during the regular season. It is one more sign of the growth, maturity and success of the Madison Opera.

Here is a link that allow you take a virtual tour of the new facility and to learn about it:

http://www.madisonopera.org/about/opera_center/


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