Opera troupe will descend on Newberg on Friday
It's opera like you've never seen it before. That is, if you've ever seen opera at all.
Opera on Tap Portland will travel to Newberg on Friday and bring its unique blend of sophisticated zaniness to the Chehalem Cultural Center.
Sadie Gregg, among what is called the managing divas of the troupe, described Opera on Tap as a nationwide nonprofit "that brings opera outside the concert hall to pubs, community centers and bars, where people who may not get to experience opera otherwise can do so in a friendly and familiar place."
The original Opera on Tap started in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2005 and now features more than 20 international chapters. The Portland branch was formed in 2014 and has performed at numerous McMenamins locations as well as lounges, public libraries and other venues.
"We've been mostly Portland-based up until this point, but we've got wheels and will travel!" Gregg said. "We love to bring opera to people who may not get to experience it often, and present it in a friendly and fun way."
In addition to managing the troupe, Gregg is a mezzo singer and will perform with the troupe Friday alongside soprano Jocelyn Claire Thomas, tenor Scot Crandal and bass-baritone Patrick Murray in the cultural center's Box Show Series.
"We'll perform opera hits, tell corny jokes and be accompanied by (maestro) Evan C. Paul, our phenomenal pianist," Gregg said.
The troupe made its debut in Newberg in August when the managing divas performed French arias and songs for the CCC's Night of the Moon Gala, a private event.
CCC officials said they are excited about the opera's first public performance in Newberg.
"We wanted to bring opera to Newberg in an accessible and fun way to show that opera can be enjoyed in small, quirky spaces near home – it is not just a grand event in a large auditorium in Portland," said Cressa Burris, the CCC's arts programming and development assistant. "I have been familiar with Opera on Tap for quite some time and this concert series was the perfect opportunity to bring them to the CCC."
Burris commented that the Boxed Show Series was a reference to serving boxed wine in the Black Box Theater, "but we assure people that delicious local wine will be available, none of which is boxed." She added that the series will consist of four unique concerts over four Fridays during the fall. "Each one (is) an opportunity to taste something new, whether it be wine or music style."
The event is set for 7 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the opera runs about 90 minutes, with an intermission. Tickets are $15 at the door.
Burris is optimistic performances of opera will become a regular event in Newberg.
"Absolutely!" she said. "Bringing all kinds of performance and culture to Newberg is a priority of the Chehalem Cultural Center. Based on the fact we are already sold out of presale tickets by (Sept. 12), there is a clear demand for this kind of performance and ideas are already percolating in-house for other opportunities to bring Opera on Tap into Newberg."
In addition to entertaining, ultimately Friday's performance is designed to break "misconceptions about opera that it is for a 'certain type' of person, but this is completely false," Burris said. "Opera tells personal yet universal stories in a grand way. It deals with jealously, passion, deceit, power, betrayal, grief, celebration … all of these incredibly human emotions and experiences to which all can relate."
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