Friday night, Art Attack took in a cup of cheer over at Boheme for Opera Vista's monthly series "Opera 101" -- holiday edition. For the past three years, Opera Vista has been hosting "Opera 101," an opera-educational workshop of sorts at the popular Montrose wine bar. During a standard "101," the company chooses a theme or composition and performs for the crowd. They also open the barroom floor to questions and colorful commentary.
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Come December, Opera Vista tosses the formalities out the door for a good old-fashioned evening of caroling, with phenomenally talented opera singers to lead you through the chorus.
When we walked into Boheme, we were shocked at the turnout. The place was packed and in rare form, there were non-ironic Christmas sweatshirts aplenty. Booklets containing Opera Vista's Christmas repertoire were scattered about the bar and patrons used them to follow along with the printed lyrics. The booklets were also being used as fodder for the rosy-cheeked clientele (from the wine, not the cold) to request the next song to be performed through the very democratic "shout it out" process. The whole experience was a load of fun and just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit.
Bringing opera to a bar crowd may seem out of the ordinary, but it is exactly in line with what Opera Vista is trying to do. OV's founder and conductor, Viswa Subbaraman, tells us that Opera Vista's M.O. is different from your Grandmother's opera. Opera Vista has been producing and performing works that tend to fall on the edgy side of the spectrum, featuring works by contemporary composers, even some that are still alive! "We want to build the next generation of opera lovers," Subbaraman says. "By showcasing opera in different venues, we can introduce it to people that might not be exposed."
If the number of people and the overflowing enthusiasm going on Friday evening is any indication, bringing opera to a bar is getting Subbaraman some of that exposure his company rightfully deserves.