Pouring Puccini: Opera on Tap Brings Baritones to Toledo Bars

. March 22, 2017.

When most people think “opera,” they envision a stuffy, black-tie affair, with wealthy patrons peeking through their glasses and applauding politely. The idea of the venerated art form appealing to the masses seems unlikely to those with that kind of picture in their minds.

It’s exactly the stereotype that the group Opera on Tap hopes to shatter. Founded in Brooklyn in 2005, the organization states it is the largest network of performing operatic artists in the country, and seeks to promote and publicize opera as a viable and growing art form. The Toledo chapter of Opera on Tap applied for a franchise membership in 2015.

“We take a local, grassroots and very fun approach to community outreach in the name of our art form,” said Denise Bernardini, “Co-Managing Diva” of the Toledo branch of Opera on Tap. “We love our communities and want to perform for them. We want to see our art form that we have committed our lives to crafting continue to exist in the near and far future…

“We want to foster and develop the artistic entrepreneurial spirit. We want to find those people out there, that have never heard an opera, never sat inside of a concert hall, are intimidated by the mere mention of opera, think it’s only for rich, white people — and then we want to sing for them and blow their minds.”

Beethoven at the Bar

In that spirit, Opera on Tap will be hosting a pub crawl on Friday, March 24, beginning at 7pm at Fleetwood’s Tap Room, downtown. The event will see a number of Toledo’s finest singers come together to travel from bar to bar, stage impromptu performances and, ultimately, drum up excitement for upcoming Opera on Tap events.

“The pub crawl is to get singers to come out and see some of the new bars that have come to downtown Toledo,” Bernardini said. “It is an exciting time to be a part of this, because Toledo is changing and has become more healthy financially since I first moved here six years ago. People are finally wanting to come downtown for activities. So we want to see the venues and plan where we want to have future performances.”

Visibility for Wagner

The pub crawl is also a return to visibility for the Toledo Opera on Tap itself— after a handful of events in its first year, the group has been relatively dormant the past five months, a hiatus that Bernardini ascribes to “problems with leadership,” among other factors.

“We have had three events, all of which were successful, but most of the area singers are really busy and finding time to plan events that [don’t] conflict with other performances and opera events is harder than you think. This has recently changed and we are excited about the possibilities over the next year for some new opportunities to perform more regularly.”

In that vein, the group has plans for a cabaret event this summer. Bernardini hopes the event will draw more eyes to her group— attracting not just audiences, but also performers.

“I am hoping some folks who aren’t will become fans, and we are hoping that some singers who haven’t been associated with us will come and join us for our regular season,” she said.

For more information on Opera on Tap,
visit OperaonTap.org.