Opera attendance is declining.” That was the worrying finding that motivated soprano Nadia Neiazy to establish the creation of Alma Viva Productions in 2009. In 2014, this non-profit organization launched the Opera in the Park project at the rate of one production each summer presented free of charge and outdoors in a festive and family atmosphere.
“We gave ourselves the mission to democratize and decompartmentalize opera,” the company’s director says. “And to approach the public in a public square, in the most frequented places.” Over the years, the process has paid off. Opera in the Park is among the projects selected by JeFaisMontréal 2019.
“Initially, this was also a love story with Girouard Park in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce,” Neiazy recalls. “My fascination with this place has greatly inspired the concept.” She describes the stages of evolution of the project that was born in her own neighborhood. Her joy is great in view of the growing enthusiasm for this unifying event. The popular success guarantees the continuity of partner support. She warmly welcomed the contribution of the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough and emphasized the importance of the production partnership with NDG Arts Week.
Opera is not intellectual
Since 2014, this summer lyric event has presented seven productions, including Così fan tutte, Carmen and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. “For adaptations, we reduce the format to accommodate the public and also the singers,” the director explains. She notes that, to guarantee a certain dramatic coherence, it was necessary to integrate a narrative text (in two languages) in a staging that does not include chorus or orchestra.
For next season, she plans another comic work. “We have noticed the popularity with the public especially for this type of opera,” says this opera singer. Baritone Vincent Ranallo is delighted with the success of the various productions and particularly highlights the success of the adaptation of Barbiere presented last summer, in which he sang Figaro. “We had very good singers for all roles,” he says. Ranallo is optimistic about the future of the concept: “Little by little, we have become one of the major events of NDG Arts Week,” he says. “Sometimes, especially when the weather is nice, there are about a thousand spectators at our performances. It is surprising!” This makes it possible to convince the different categories of the public that opera is not at all intellectual and is not especially reserved for a certain social class and the initiated. “It’s theatre and entertainment for all audiences.”
Translation by Vasyl Pawlowsky