Opera! Pike! Park! times three

Milford. A preview party for the opera event’s third summer in Ann Street Park was also a fundraiser. The event has attracted hundreds of people. This year it will be on Aug. 28, 4-6 p.m.

| 08 Aug 2022 | 02:07

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.”

These opera singers from the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia will be performing in the forthcoming Opera! Pike! Park! event on August 28 in Ann Street park from 4-6 pm. They have each won numerous prizes in music competitions. These are abbreviated bios of just some of their accomplishments.
Emily Margevich-soprano is from Chicago and has been performing on stage since the age of two. She has a BM and an MM from DePaul University where she performed leading roles in various operas. At AVA she has sung the roles of Musetta in La Boheme, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin, and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Alice Chung-mezzo-soprano is from Loma Linda, California. She earned at BA in Sociology from
UC, Santa Barbara and a Performer’s Certificate from the University of Missouri- Kansas City.
At AVA she sang Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte, Jezibaba in Rusalka and La Zia Principessa and La Badessa in Suor Angelica.
Zachary Rioux- tenor is from New Brunswick, Canada. In concert, Zachary has performed works with L’orchestre classique de Montréal, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, and the National Academy Orchestra, among others. At AVA, he has performed Rodolfo in La Boehme, Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro and a Lord in La Favorite.
Benjamin Dickerson- baritone is from Burlington, Vermont. He is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and an alumnus of the Music Academy of the West. Dickerson has also performed in recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall. At AVA, he has sung the roles of Schaunard in La Boehme and the title role in Eugene Onegin.
José Meléndez- Pianist, Conductor, Vocal Coach, and Collaborative Artist.
Mr. Meléndez’ professional engagements have taken him to Europe, South and Central America, Asia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and throughout the mainland United States. He is interested in the artistic development of young and emerging singers. He holds a full-time position at AVA, where he is Assistant to the Music Director, Orchestra Librarian, and part of the music staff. He also serves as Assistant Conductor, Collaborative Pianist, and Vocal Coach for various AVA productions and events.
And show up, they did. People from all walks of life, young, old, kids, opera newbies and opera buffs.