Arts & Entertainment

Opera Grand Rapids kicks off season

October 10, 2016
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Opera Grand Rapids The Barber of Seville
"The Barber of Seville" is part of the 2016-2017 schedule for Opera Grand Rapids. Photo via

Opera Grand Rapids is kicking off its 2016-2017 season on Wednesday with a tango-inspired gala.

The tango theme was chosen for the annual Night With The Opera gala fundraiser in homage to the company’s season-opening production of Ástor Piazzolla’s tango opera, “María de Buenos Aires.”

Guests are encouraged to wear tango-inspired red and black attire to the gala in the “spirit of the tango opera.”

The Night With The Opera gala is being held in the CityFlatsHotel Ballroom, 83 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids.

More information about the event is available here.

Anne Berquist, Opera Grand Rapids general director, said proceeds from the event “directly support our productions and educational programming throughout the year.”

Night With The Opera will feature a sit-down dinner with “beautifully-crafted” Latin-inspired dishes, “premium” libations, a live performance by local Argentine tango composer-musicians Folias Duo, and an exclusive production of Opera Grand Rapids’ “María de Buenos Aires before it opens to the general public the following weekend.

The 80-minute opera is described as a “a surreal spiritual journey set to the beat of Argentine tango where pulse and poetry play an equal role.”

The story centers on María, who is rumored to be born in the slums of Buenos Aires on a day when God was drunk. As a young woman, she is seduced by tango and a city moving to the pulse of an intoxicating rhythm. She comes to embody the sensual dance at the loss of her mortality and is condemned to haunt the streets of Buenos Aires forever.

The opera includes poetry by Horacio Ferrer and music from composer and pioneer of nuevo tango, Piazzolla.

“María de Buenos Aires is the most performed Spanish language opera in the world, and is regarded by many as an “unconventional masterpiece.”

For the production, Opera Grand Rapids said it is engaging a team of artists at the top of their field, including Catalina Cuervo, the soprano with the most performances of the opera under her belt; Tony Award-nominated Argentine tango legends Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo; Grammy Award-nominated tango violinist Sami Merdinian; and internationally renowned master of the bandoneon and foremost torchbearer of the music of Ástor Piazzolla, Daniel Binelli.

Opera Grand Rapids said the evening is dedicated to local Argentine couple Dr. Luis Tomatis and Gretchen Minnhaar, longtime supporters of Opera Grand Rapids.

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