For most members of Generation X, or Y, or XY, or whatever they're calling 20-somethings these days, the entirety of our opera experience was the 10-minute segment in Pretty Woman in which Richard Gere flies a jewel-bedecked Julia Roberts off in a private jet. But after seeing the Florida Grand Opera's performance at Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk, we're thinking previous generations may have been onto something when it comes to their love for this epic art form.
The FGO is now looking to introduce the culturally inquisitive younger set to the joys of its monumentally powerful medium. And what better way to bring opera to the masses than during art walk, when people are boozed up and receptive? Well, there may have been better ways -- an at-times inattentive audience and sparse, lackluster setting put a bit of a damper on some performances. But as free, unique cultural experiences go, the brief foray into the world of FGO's Young Artist program, and the upcoming Romeo et Juliette run at the Arsht Center, was one of Saturday's standout gallery events.
In the one of Wynwood's oldest installations, the Dorsch Gallery, a
keyboard player and two pretty young things gathered to serenade a hefty
crowd, properly plied with Little Black Dress vodka and Herradura
tequila. The group eased their way around the art, and gathered to hear
the ear-splitting notes of the following selections: "Ah! Je veux vivre
dans la reve" from Romeo et Juliette; "Quando me'n vo soletta" from La
Boheme; "Duettino - Sull'aria" from The Marriage of Figaro; and "Gorgeous" from The Apple
Frankly, the shockingly small physiques of the singers hardly
looked hearty enough to produce the booming melodies they belted forth.
It ain't over till the skinny chick sings, apparently. We half expected
glasses to shatter and windows to crack, but much to our surprise,
everything remained intact.
Yeah, there's a language barrier. Most operas are penned in either
Italian or French, which means the audiences at Dorsch were often unaware of the plot
specifics. (FGO's performances at the Arsht are subtitled.) But the melodramatic stylings of the players help, and
anyway, are words really so important? In this art form, it's all about
The art installations were a quirky backdrop to the main event. Jennifer Lauren
Smith's video, "February," featured a running loop of a hot air balloon
being inflated and floating around. The "Let's Begin With a Line"
installations jutted out all over the place. And in the center of the same room as the operatic performances, Ralph
Provisero's kinetic kid's car rocked around on a spring. Gallerist Brook Dorsch himself protected the piece from audience members who gathered a bit too close for comfort to hear the singers, warning them against touching the piece, sometimes in the middle of songs. But the audience itself was the biggest distraction from the performances, with plenty of rude patrons continuing loud conversations as they waited in line at the bar, even after being harshly shushed by fellow listeners.
Even so, we dug the opera most. We vote art walk galleries follow in
Dorsch's lead and mix up their offerings a bit. We could all use a
little more cultural exposure.
And even if this whole opera thing is new to you, we suggest you snag
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some tickets. For dudes, willingly taking your chick to the opera earns you major brownie points. And for chicks, it's a chance to get dolled
up, get your cocktail on and soak up a little romance. Win-win.