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2020 was quite the year for businesses across the country, including right here in Spokane. Some of the hardest hit industries were hospitality and the arts.
One of those hit particularly hard during 2020? The Opera!
If you didn’t know we had an opera here in the Inland Northwest, it’s okay – you’re not alone! When we polled our Getting to Know Spokane Facebook group, the majority of the group didn’t know we had Opera at all in the northwest.
It’s true: Spokane and the Inland Northwest has its very own opera, known as the Inland Northwest Opera (INO). Throughout 2020, INO was able to sustain itself due to loyal donors, sponsors, and Opera Grams. Thankfully, the Inland Northwest Opera was able to operate again in 2021.
If you’re newer to Spokane and didn’t know we had a robust opera, that’s one thing the Inland Northwest Opera is trying to change.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend Opera on the Lake with the INO, and, wow, was it a delight! Opera on the Lake has been going on for 20 years, and it was a treat to be able to get out and enjoy opera after a long year of few artistic opportunities (or, as INO says, “opera-tunities.”)
I was gifted the opportunity to attend Opera on the Lake by the Inland Northwest Opera, but all of my opinions are my own.
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Background on the Inland Northwest Opera
North Idaho Friends of the Opera and the Arts was incorporated in 2000, and INO began as a grassroots effort called Opera Plus! producing one Mainstage event per year, along with an annual Sunset Cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
In 2018, this evolved into what we now know as Inland Northwest Opera and united opera lovers from the entire region under a new, all-inclusive name.
The Inland Northwest Opera is the only professional opera company serving Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington, and it’s uncommon to have an opera of this size in this region. We’re very lucky to have INO here!
In addition to Opera on the Lake, INO also has a Mainstage opera and Opera-tunities programs for area schools and community venues.
INO also offers discounted tickets for students, seniors, military and educators.
Opera on the Lake: Maid Turned Mistress Opera
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Maid Turned Mistress opera with INO for Opera on the Lake. The backstory behind Maid Turned Mistress (La serva padrona) is fascinating – not only was it one of Giovanni Pergolesi’s most celebrated stage works of the 18th century, it’s also part of the opera buffa (“comic opera”) genre.
This genre developed from the interludes, performed between the acts of serious operas. Since the opera buffa was free from the serious opera, it became “fertile ground for musical and dramatic innovation.”
Needless to say, if you thought opera was boring, think again! Without giving anything away, this play was lively, kept the whole audience entertained, and kept our attention easily.
As far as the location for Opera on the Lake (on Lake Coeur d’Alene), it was beautiful, especially once you’re on the water! This year was (hopefully) an anomaly, so it was warmer than usual, but things cooled down almost immediately once we were on the boat and moving on the water.
The opera talent was out of this world incredible. I have been to a few opera performances in my life, and some can go on for quite a while. Trust me when I say this performance was anything but boring!
Derrick Parker played Uberto, the curmudgeonly bachelor. Heather Parker played Serpina, the self-assured maid.
Fun fact: Derrick and Heather are married to each other, and wow did that really make the show even more enjoyable! From the banter, to the playfulness, to the depth of the love by the end of the performance, the performers were absolutely incredible.
Who Should Go to the Opera?
Think of opera as an old school soap opera/reality show/movie: as opposed to being filmed and put up on a screen, the opera is a well-done live performance that was commissioned hundreds of years ago by kings and queens who wanted their own ‘movies’ created for them.
While they may have been created hundreds of years ago, human drama rarely changes: there’s love, hate, passion – and comedy! Operas are incredible performances that keep your attention and keep you wondering “what’s going to happen next?!”
If you’ve been skeptical about attending an opera performance, let me assure you – you don’t know how fun they can be! Even without the ambiance of being on the lake, Maid Turned Mistress kept my attention – which is saying a lot in our “quick hit” social media world.
Who should attend Inland Northwest Opera events? If you like live-action movies, Broadway plays (Hamilton, anyone?), if you like to see actors roll with whatever is thrown their way (it’s live!), if you want to appreciate good, local talent – then opera is for you.
What Else to Know Before You Go
Overall, the location was incredible, with beautiful scenery and nearly perfect weather. The Inland Northwest Opera used two boats for this opera on the lake, and there was still plenty of room to walk around during intermission.
Pro tip: order drinks ahead of time! Everyone who did that had drinks waiting for them, which is clearly the way to go. Otherwise, you have to go up and order drinks or wait for a server to come around, but that’s difficult during the performance and disruptive (for you!)
Order ahead of time and then sit down and relax.
We were provided appetizers, although others had thought in advance and brought their own trays of snacks. The appetizers did not arrive until intermission, and you are provided a standard, mixed plate (ours included a small sandwich, macarons, and fruit), which was very tasty.
However, if you or your companion has any dietary restrictions or needs to eat on a consistent schedule, you may want to bring your own snacks since it can be well over an hour from arriving, boarding, and intermission.
Another pro tip? Bring a water bottle! That’s one thing you can’t order ahead of time, and as mentioned before, you’ll have to go and order drinks (and water), which can be disruptive during the opera. Simply bring your own water bottle to keep yourself hydrated and avoid the line!
Upcoming Inland Northwest Opera Events: The 2021 Season
The Inland Northwest Opera has several events coming up in 2021, including:
- Night at the MAC on August 6
- Moonlight Rendezvous on August 22
- Orpheus and Eurydice on October 29 and October 31
For more information about these events, and the INO, head over to the Inland Northwest Opera’s website here.
Thank you again to the INO for hosting us!