If the standard selection of overpriced jukeboxes, off-key cover bands, and Jimmy Buffett wannabes at your local bar is getting a little old, there's a new game in town -- the opera. Once the domain solely of the rich (and Richard Gere), the opera's modern-day makeover is coming to Midtown's bar scene.
Starting in March at The Stage, Florida Grand Opera (FGO) is launching an "Unexpected Operas in Unexpected Places," series, featuring a tango double bill. Bargoers will hear Robert Xavier Rodriguez's Tango and Ástor Piazzolla's María de Buenos Aires, all while sipping on bottled brewskis and vodka tonics.
Obviously, this ain't your grandma's opera.
In recent years, FGO has been gung ho about introducing opera to a new generation. Last year, they launched mini-arias at a gallery during Art Walk and hosted a series of pop-up performances in places like Ikea.
"One of the main goals is to attract different audiences, new audiences, probably younger sometimes," said the FGO's music director, Ramon Tebar.
The new "Unexpected Places" endeavor will span a total of three seasons, and was made possible with funding from a Knight Foundation grant. The Stage and the tango are the first season's chosen combo. Participating players will be members of the FGO's Young Artist Studio.
"The music is not what you'd expect from a traditional opera. Tango music is in a style where it is not classical, not pop, not light. But it is a mixture, and at the same time it is music from Argentina. Also, doing an opera in Spanish was something important in this community. In Miami it's so important, the Spanish language, so presenting a piece that would connect with the community, that they can understand without the need for supertitles," Tebar added.
It took the team a while to find the right spot, one that resembled an Argentinian tango bar (as much as that's possible in MIA). "Everything should be spontaneous, like it would be in a tango bar," Tebar says. And next season, they plan to change it up again with a different locale and a different kind of music.
"Opera is such a great art form, everyone should have the right to access it. It's very important ... for FGO to educate the community or at least to tell them, look, this is a great art form, it's another window," Tebar adds. "So for this we have to break the barriers and go outside home. So let's see. This kind of project is kind of an experiment. It's exciting for us because we don't know what's going to happen."
The series will take place at The Stage from March 21 through 24. Tickets can be purchased via phone at (800) 741-1010 or online at fgo.org. They'll also be sold at the door, and they cost $25 per person (18 & over recommended). Doors open at 8 p.m. each night, and the lineup will include a pre-show, Tango, intermission and finish with Maria de Buenos Aires.