I love Opera, I also love camping. So when the Calgary Opera sets up a tent along the banks of the Bow River and puts on an outdoor operatic spectacle for two weeks every August, I kinda feel like its a match made in heaven. Last Thursday, I got invited to the première of the third year of Opera in the Village, which to me has become a Calgary summertime tradition. I have to say that more than just producing a complex stage show in a built-from-scratch venue, Calgary Opera is creating a cultural summertime destination in the forever evolving East Village. With daily activities, such as free drumming, Arias, workshops, and even a kids matinee it is worth it even to stroll along the beautifully redeveloped river pathway.
Dubbed ‘The Big Top On The Bow’, the impressive tent plays host to this year’s main attraction; The Mikado. A satirical comedy set in two acts by the always campy Gilbert and Sullivan. My only concern about Opera in a tent was – How will I know what they are saying if there are no titles? But my fears were allayed once the show began as it was entirely in English and it is meant to be engaging (even pulling audience members on stage at one point). Jokes about current pop culture abound and there is plenty of poking fun at Calgary. Even something of an appearance by the World’s best Mayor.
The fun thing about camping is that the rules are a little different. So is the case here. No need for a suit and tie on the banks of the river. Why not grab a beer and some popcorn on your way in. Opera camping is all about feeling good (there is even a pause in the first act for an audience photo op). Sure, just like camping, there are a few bugs, but it is totally worth it to feel the cool breeze from the river drift through a high-spirited scene about who is going to get their head chopped off.
Also, just like camping, I think it is worth it to note that it is not exactly an easy endeavour. Which is another reason why I love Opera in the Village. From the technical logistics to the beautiful set to the hard working actors, everyone has to be a willing to figure things out. As an event Producer, I totally appreciate the lengths that the company goes to to pull this off every year. It might not be simple, but it is unique and heavily contributes to the growing cultural landscape of our city, and to that I say “Bravo!”
So if you are like me and don’t have air conditioning in your apartment (who does in Calgary anyway?!) why not take in mother nature’s AC and go and experience some Opera that is fun and approachable in a beautiful spot in the heart of our city. You won’t be disappointed.
Opera in the Village runs August 13 – 22 next to the Simmons building in the East Village.
Performances begin at 8pm nightly and 4pm on Sundays
Tickets are $35 – $125