This is the time of year when Opera Memphis General Director Ned Canty and his troupe of singers and musicians visit unlikely locations and serve opera appetizers, in bite sized servings, for curious audiences that might be intimidated by a full length opera.
"With 30 Days we're reaching people with vastly different places on the opera spectrum," Canty says. "They range from, 'I hate it, hate it, hate it and will never go see it' to 'Gosh, I'm just waiting for an excuse, my grandmother loved opera, and I think it will be a great date, but I just need that push." The short-term goal is to remove as much friction as possible for neophytes, which is why the 30 Days tour will be used to distribute 50-percent off coupons to Don Giovanni for first-time opera goers.
"I'm very happy we were able to do the Levitt Shell concert Saturday, September 27th, which is the last Saturday of 30 Days, so it's like a mini-climax before the climax. Although [with Mozart's Don Giovanni opening October 9th], climax may be too literal a word.
"I just can't overestimate the size of the effect 30 Days has had on how people think about the company," Canty says. "We hope to use our resources to give this gift in the hopes that enough people appreciate the gift and give us more resources so we can continue giving it in the long haul.
"We're starting to see groupies," Canty says. "Families with young kids come back, especially to see the Playground King. Creating lifelong relationships with the artform is something that opera companies always struggle with. Unlike ballet where so many young people take classes or go to the Nutcracker. Kids do plays in school. They might not become professionals, but it creates an affinity." Canty describes the character of Don Giovanni as "Don Draper before we had Don Draper," and calls the opera, "a night of passion with no regrets in the morning — at least from the point of view of the audience."
Masks are integral to the show and Canty encourages audiences to "come as you aren't." "There will be special goodies given out to people wearing masks," he says.