Opera with a View

   The Palm Beach Opera chorus and symphony took to the Meyer Amphitheatre stage in downtown West Palm Beach on a breezy and beautiful Saturday afternoon. Lawn chairs, picnic baskets and blankets dotted the grass. For an hour-and-a-half, the musicians treated enthusiastic operagoers to stellar arias, duets, overtures and even a sextet or two.

A screenshot from the operalivecue.com app describing a piece.

   Palm Beach Opera’s first-ever Opera at the Waterfront concert, held on December 14, was a resounding success. Joined by guest tenor James Valenti and led by conductor Greg Ritchey, the PBO symphony, chorus and young artists served up a sampling of the genre’s most famous repertoire. For this attendee, highlights included “The Anvil Chorus” from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, “The Doll Aria” from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman and “Votre Toast” from Bizet’s Carmen. The setlist was sprinkled with numbers from PBO’s upcoming 2014 season, including The Barber of Seville and the aforementioned Hoffman, as well as a few Broadway favorites like “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific and “Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

   Beyond the music, one of the most impressive aspects of the concert was also the most interactive. The team at PBO created a website, operalivecue.com, that provided an up-to-the-minute songlist as well as context for and facts about each number. During “The Flower Duet” from Delibes’ Lakme, the website read: “The beautiful princess Lakmé and her confidant sing of the beauty of the flowers in the garden.” While listeners enjoyed “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville, they were also treated to this trivia: “This aria has been parodied in numerous cartoons including Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry and The Simpsons.” This integration of technology and art has always been a priority for PBO. In this context, the website—not to mention the social media updates you could follow with #PBOWaterfront—enhanced the overall experience for both opera connoisseurs and newbies alike.

   If you missed the 2013 concert, fear not! Next year’s Opera at the Waterfront concert is scheduled for Saturday, December 13. Mark your calendars now, for this concert deserves to become an annual tradition.

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