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Singers, piano player to perform live outdoors during Aug. 20 event outside Oregon City Public Library.

Music lovers of all ages are invited to grab a blanket, a picnic lunch and prepare to enjoy opera on Saturday, Aug. 20 in Oregon City's Library Park.

"We're excited to present Opera a la Cart and are looking forward to welcoming people to Library Park for an afternoon of music, learning and community," said Greg Williams, library director.COURTESY PHOTO: OC PUBLIC LIBRARY - Singers from a 2017 visit of Opera a la Cart entertain attendees at Library Park in front of the Oregon City Public Library.

"We are absolutely thrilled to once again be able to offer live, in-person summer programming, which we haven't been able to do since 2019," he added.

Opera a la Cart is Portland Opera's mobile performance venue that brings live opera performance directly into the community.

"Each Opera a la Cart performance employs three singers and one pianist, who will perform standard opera arias and ensembles as well as songs from classic musicals," said Gina Bacon, adult services librarian.

"The cart, which is designed and built by architecture students at Portland State University, features a fold-out stage and a 'menu' of operatic specials of the day to be sung by local artists. The piano comes with the cart," she added.

"Opera a la Cart is all about getting out there where people are. We know that folks are out and about in the summertime," said Alexis Hamilton, Portland Opera's manager of education and community engagement.

"Portland Opera is committed to sharing gorgeous music and accessible programming to everyone," she said. "We hope that we are able to bring a little light and joy to our community."

'Visceral thrill'

Hamilton noted that performers at Oregon City's library will be Paul Floyd, playing piano; Jessica Blau, mezzo soprano; Jesse Enderle, baritone; and R&B singer, Alea Loren, and her accompanist, Alvin Johnson.

"We have always presented opera's greatest hits and musical theater gems, and will continue to do so, but we are also excited to include great music from other traditions," Hamilton said.

She added that she has noted "wonderful reactions" from people who encounter Opera a la Cart.

"My favorites are the kind of quizzical look that comes over folks' faces when they first hear us and slowly approach, looking around as if they can't quite believe it. Then, the best is when they relax, smile and settle in for a bit," she said.

"I also adore watching kids watch the singers. They are often just fascinated by the sound and will dance," Hamilton said.

"But the absolute best is when those same kiddos are dancing and then one of the singers will do something amazing and the kids just freeze and stare. They are experiencing that visceral thrill that live opera — that live music can provide," she noted.

Healing power of music

"One of the Oregon City Library's focuses is to stimulate imagination by offering programs which inspire and educate," Bacon said.

She added that Opera a la Cart "gives our community the opportunity to experience the thrill of live opera in an accessible and casual setting."

Bacon added that she hopes that "exposure to this tradition of storytelling and music will inspire our community and encourage interest in the arts."

"We think people will enjoy the opportunity to gather in person, enjoy the beautiful Oregon summer weather and listen to live music in a beautiful park setting," she said.

"We have been through extraordinary times over the last couple of years, and we haven't had as much opportunity to be among our community and have a communal experience the same way that we used to," Hamilton said.

"Coming out to see Opera a la Cart or going to the library or a park and being out among our friends and neighbors and those outside of our circle is like reattaching and weaving ourselves together again," she said.

Hamilton added, "Music is healing. Being out together in a safe way reconnects us to each other and reminds us that we aren't alone."

Love, passion, opera!

What: Portland Opera presents Opera a la Cart

When: Noon-1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20

Where: Library Park at the Oregon City Public Library, 606 John Adams St.

Details: This outdoor event is free; attendees are invited to bring outdoor seating, blankets and a picnic lunch.

More: For more information about Opera a la Cart, visit portlandopera.org/education/opera-a-la-cart/ and learn more about the OC Library, visit orcity.org/library.


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