Opera "Pops-Up" around Chicago

November 17, 2009 (CHICAGO) The Chicago Opera Theater is performing a series of "Pop-Up Operas" around Chicago to celebrate National Opera Week. The free, surprise performances will take place at various areas around the city this week, which included Union Station on Monday evening and Daley Plaza on Tuesday at noon. Other planned performances include at the Lake Street Red Line station and the frozen foods section of a Whole Foods.

The Chicago Opera Theater is also hosting a Twitter contest where anyone who includes "#popupopera" in a Tweet will automatically be entered in the contest. The theater posts daily clues on @ChicagoOpera as to where the "Pop-Up Opera" will occur. Prizes include subscriptions to Chicago Opera Theater, tickets to Kathleen Battle with the Chicago Children's Choir at the Harris Theater, and $50 restaurant gift cards.

Chicago Opera Theater spokesperson Colleen Flanigan said the idea for the "Pop-Up Opera" came from flash mobs such as the ones that performed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" dance in public places. She said the theater wanted to do something different to make opera more accessible by performing in every day locations.

"Opera is not scary, it's not elitist," Flanigan said. "It's not all fat ladies in weird costumes."

Even without the strange costumes, the unannounced performances seem to take people off guard. Opera singer Leila Bowie said that when she sings in the "Pop-Up Opera" people usually look surprised, but she hopes they like the out of the ordinary performance.

"I hope I inspire people to get out of their everydayness," Bowie said.

Opera singer Jorge Prego said he enjoys performing in the "Pop-Up Opera" because people have a misconception about opera and this gives them a chance to hear it and change their minds.

"Some people have never heard an opera singer in their life," Prego said. "Maybe they will think it's worth watching the whole opera."

Flanigan said the passersby have a look of "bewilderment" on their faces but are generally pleasantly surprised.

"We think we make their day a little bit," she said.

"Pop-Up Opera" is presented by the Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

For more information on the "Pop-Up Opera" and the other events in Chicago for National Opera Week, visit http://www.chicagooperatheater.org/.

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