May 04

Extending the experience of opera

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Alley-Oop on Stephen Avenue outside sportchek

Mercury Opera is making their Calgary debut. In an alley.
And why not have opera in a non-traditional arena? It would help people to connect with the art.

“Opera is usually seen as stuffy and distant,” says artistic director Darcia Parada, “and that’s what’s so exciting [about being so close], you can see the expressions of the singers.”
That, and you can take in their fabulous costumes. An operascape in an alley in the middle of the downtown core.

“We did a production in Edmonton on their LRT platform, and their actions were timed to the trains departing and leaving,” Parada explains when asked what inspired her to bring this to Calgary. The success of the Edmonton performances gave Parada the idea to put a similar performance on an LRT platform in Calgary. She then met with Calgary Arts Development’s Terry Rock and the location moved from the LRT to an alley. Specifically the alley just south of Stephen Avenue.

“We were already contemplating doing something in an alley after Edmonton,” Parada says.

What will Alley Oop entail exactly? The evening will feature singers in pre-performance ‘pods’ while patrons sample drinks and local fare. The opera will take place at sun down, but not before a string quartet weaves among the stilt walker. And then the audience can relax at the after party. And as for the actual opera?

“Imagine an operatic version of CATS, except with amazing costumes, a little bit like that.” Parada says.

“I think that people are really excited that the action is all around them,” Parada states when prompted about how this cuts through the perception of opera in general.

“It’s almost like being in the middle of a movie, there is an absence of the fourth wall,” she adds. Interestingly, she feels like it harkens back to more traditional forms of entertainment.

“Two hundred years ago, if people were going to the opera, they had to travel,” she explains, “the journey of getting there was almost as important as the actual unveiling of the opera. The experience is extended.”

There are still tickets available to Alley Oop an operascape, a one night only performance tonight!

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