Three years ago, when Javier Morales, founder and director of Opera! Pike! Park! - told a friend that he was planning to have Opera at the Ann Street Park, the friend said, “Are you nuts? Are you crazy? Who’s gonna show up?”
And show up, they did. People from all walks of life, young, old, kids, opera newbies and opera buffs. Almost 500 of them. Morales, who cut his teeth listening to his Dad play opera on the radio, had a smile from ear to ear. Morales said he believed that music brings people together- that it inspires kids to dream- that he wanted the opera to be accessible and free and comfortable for everyone. People brought lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets and they exuded excitement about the music.
The Opera singers were from the Academy of Vocal Arts-AVA- in Philadelphia, picked by their conductor/ vocal coach, José Meléndez The audience enthused about the artists, and Meléndez brought another group of singers last year. Word of mouth had spread and the event had the makings of a new musical tradition in Ann Street park. Numbers were now more than 500.
The Opera, now in its third year, is coming back to Ann Street park on August 28, from 4- 6 p.m. The event is still free and has lots of community support. Michael Zimmerman, Milford Music in the Park Coordinator said, “Musical experiences like this can be transformative and the impact can last a lifetime.”
Javier Morales had a garden party fundraiser on Sunday, August 7, at the house he shares with husband Mayor Sean Strub. Morales announced a steering committee for the opera event which would help with future development. Members are Jim Pedranti, Roseann Kalish, Lisa Winkler, Yana and Dale Thatcher, Megan Strub, Doug Manion, and Sean Strub. There were about 50 people there, and checks flew out of their wallets and into a large bowl on the table. There were opera themed cocktails at the party and people were eager to learn about the program. Without giving too much away, Lisa Winkler hinted at some of the works which will be featured. In addition to the classic arias of Mozart, Offenbach, Verdi, and Puccini, will be more popular songs by such artists as Richard Rogers, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Stephen Sondheim, among others.
Morales wants to offer something for everyone. He said, “Music transcends differences and can bring people together. This is our third Opera! Pike! Park! concert, and I expect the turnout to be comparable to the previous two. But we are taking it year-by-year, without necessarily an objective other than each year to produce the best concert we can and for as many in our community to enjoy it as possible.”
And show up, they did. People from all walks of life, young, old, kids, opera newbies and opera buffs.