by Neil McCalmont
If you were to travel to Italy in the summer and jaunt through their Renaissance gardens, you would hear the Italian people speaking their lovely language, water rushing through fountains, and concerts of gorgeous music. That delightful atmosphere will waft through Cleveland’s Italian Cultural Garden during a special opera concert of operatic arias and ensemble numbers on Sunday, July 31 at 6 pm.
“Opera in the Italian Garden” will be presented by Opera Circle Cleveland and the Cleveland Ballet, carrying on the tradition that originally began in the 1930s, and was revived in 2008. “We thought that nobody was going to show up,” said Joyce Mariani, Executive Director of the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation, over a recent telephone call. “But over 200 people came. The next year it more than doubled to 500, and last year we had an audience of 2,000. The audience makes the event what it is. We just present it.”
The venue makes for a picturesque scene, and a prime location for any musical experience. “The audience even started bringing picnics to the concert, so this year we’re offering gelato and wine tasting, as well,” Mariani explained. The concert will make for a wonderful family-friendly venture, as children make up a large portion of the audience. It is also an ideal experience for newcomers to opera.
Opera itself began in Italy around 1600, and the country has produced many of its greatest works, catchiest melodies, and most beloved composers, from the bubbly Bel Canto music of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini to the unparalleled drama of Verdi and the gut-wrenching lyricism of Puccini. Also on Sunday’s program are some hits from Viennese and French Operetta, as well as more contemporary works by musicians such as Andrea Bocelli. “One highlight will be the Cleveland Ballet’s choreography of the famous ‘Flower Duet’ from Delibe’s Lakmé,” Mariani added.
Opera Circle Cleveland Executive Director Dorota Sobieska has been a driving force behind this production. “She has been a wonderful artistic collaborator,” Mariani said, “She has a fantastic artistic vision.” Sobieska, a soprano, will also be performing during the concert, alongside mezzo-soprano Laura Avdey, tenors Mikhail Urusov and Jonathan Cilia Faro, baritone James Binion, and pianists Jacek Sobieski and Svetlana Ivanova. The event will be emceed by Anthony Marotta.
With wine, gelato, families, breathtaking scenery and music, “Opera in the Italian Garden” will be much more than just a concert. Be sure to pack an extra chair with your picnic basket. This treat is free and open to the public.
Italian Cultural Garden located at 990 East Boulevard. Parking is available in the Michael White School lot across from the garden, or on East Boulevard.
Photo: Opera Circle Cleveland performing the Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor in 2015.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com July 18, 2016.
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