Madison Opera's director of development is the wonderful Lizabeth Tolles. Ever since my first day at Madison Opera, Beth has been telling me how cool Opera in the Park is. It's her favorite event of the year, and here's what she has to say:
MOB: How many Opera in the Park concerts have you participated in?
Beth: This will be my fourth OITP as an employee of Madison Opera. I also attended the event twice as a "civilian."
MOB: What is the greatest challenge in planning OITP?
Beth: From my perspective, it is always a challenge to plan for a non-ticketed event as we really have no idea of what the audience size will actually turn out to be.
MOB: Why do you think sponsors have maintained a strong interest in OITP this year, despite the economic climate?
Beth: Sponsors and supporters realize that OITP is much more than just a concert. It is truly a community building event. Imagine sitting with over 13,000 audience members in a beautiful park on a warm summer evening. Incredible music fills the air and fellowship fills the park. Attendees cover all demographics. Everyone is extremely attentive; the event is about the music coming from the stage as professional opera singers are joined by talented local musicians. With the concert's free admission, popular repertoire and relaxed "wear your jeans and bring a picnic" setting, it attracts a significant number of audience members who might otherwise not be inclined and/or able to attend mainstage productions. The great majority of our sponsors return year after year because they appreciate what an investment in community OITP truly is for all concerned. Especially in these economic times, it is a joy to be able to offer such an incredible evening to the public at no charge. We are grateful to our sponsors and donors for making it possible.
MOB: What is your favorite OITP memory?
Beth: My favorite OITP memory is the first time I saw the entire park "glowing" as the audience joined Maestro DeMain in conducting with their light sticks. I turned my back to the stage and just peered out into the park. It was like an ocean of glowing waves undulating throughout the park. Breathtaking! And yes, I always help conduct with my own light stick. I consider it a duty. Gotta keep the orchestra on track, right!?