Midsummer marked by Madison Opera at Garner Park

Midsummer marked by Madison Opera at Garner Park
A view of last summer’s Opera in the Park event.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Concerts on the Square and Opera in the Park is that the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra wraps up the proceedings before the first glow of the fireflies—and the Madison Symphony Orchestra doesn’t stop until the glow sticks have helped John DeMain lead the MSO Chorus and soloists in a favorite tune…

Or maybe it’s the fact that Opera in the Park blesses us just once in the summer, while we get six chances to enjoy Andrew Sewell and company in the shadow of the Capitol.

Oh, and then there’s all the singing.

Whatever your reason for heading out to Garner Park this Saturday night, no one disputes that for some time, Opera in the Park has been one of Madison’s best loved summer music events. If recent summers are any indication, 8 p.m. on July 25 will result in 14,000+ music fans of all types spread out in Garner Park, ready to enjoy, for the fourteenth year, a frothy mixture of opera hits previewing the next season of Madison Opera, a lively overture, and some welcome homecomings or company debuts for singers who are well on the way (or already there) to major careers.

And it’s free.

This year’s singers include Meredith Arwady (fabulous in last season’s Sweeney Todd), soprano Eleni Calenos in her company debut (and she returns to open the season in La Boheme), local favorite and Sun Prairie native Kyle Ketelsen, and tenor Harold Meers, who also sings here for the first time.

Vocal highlights include Calenos and Meers previewing their Boheme this November in Overture Hall, selections from next year’s closing production, The Tales of Hoffman, a little Verdi and Dvorak, and Ketelsen as Mefistofeles.

As usual there will be a generous selection of Broadway hits, including numbers from Guys and Dolls, Wonderful Town and Kiss Me Kate. Throw in the joie de vivre of John DeMain, Madison Opera general director Kathryn Smith, and the MSO Chorus, and all you need is a blanket and a glow stick! And if it should happen to rain hard, the program will be presented Sunday at 8 p.m.