Drinking Is Allowed (and Encouraged) at the Prima Volta Opera

There have been shows in laundromats, inside old bomb shelters and parking garages and water tunnels, and, with the aid of a gas-powered generator, at a cemetery. Prima Volta, a local classical music organization, is also about taking a concert out of the hall and off the bandstand and into an uncommon venue.

“We love the idea of having concerts in nontraditional spaces. Our directors are all craft-beer lovers, so it was only natural to combine our passion for beer with our passion for music,” says Prima Volta founding member Anna Diemer about Brindisi!: An Evening of Beer and Song. The opera program of drink/drank/drunk-centric songs takes places at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, and includes a two-hour window of unlimited beer with the price of admission. 

The list of singers, who include graduates of the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, will present songs such as “Brindisi” from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, “The Champagne Song” from Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, and “The Tipsy Aria (Ah quel dîner!)” from Jacques Offenbach’s La Périchole

“Going to the symphony or opera can be time- or cost-prohibitive for many people, especially young professionals who are on a budget. Plus, sitting quietly in a concert hall for three hours can be stifling,” says Diemer. “I think that classical music is very much alive and should involve the participation and feedback of the audience more often. With the relaxed atmosphere of a beer hall, we are looking forward to the opportunity for our audience to whoop and holler as they please while they enjoy their beers.”

Additionally, the nonprofit Prima Volta – originally founded in 2013 by Diemer and three of her colleagues while they were attending Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, for undergraduate school – will premiere “Buddha and the Wave.” The commissioned song by Dr. Mark Buller (who has been commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony, and DiverseWorks) features text by Michael Metivier and chronicles a Buddha’s journey to a wine-friendly small town. 

Brindisi! is scheduled to take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, April 18, at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons Avenue. The $20 admission pays for the concert and two hours of bottomless beer. For additional details, go to primavolta.org.
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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen