Every year, Opera America holds National Opera Week and encourages its member companies to hold a free event. Last year, Opera Memphis was too busy preparing for a production to participate, but director Ned Canty had an idea for the following year: Opera Memphis would hold an event every day of Opera Week. Then, he tossed that idea aside.

What would really be Memphis would be 30 days of events and blow it out, make it as big as possible, he remembers thinking. So, he assembled his staff and said one word: "Operathon." "Everybody just started nodding," he says.

On Saturday, Opera Memphis kicks off "30 Days of Opera" at the Cooper-Young Festival. They will then follow that up with an event every day at various venues throughout the city, through October 14th.

In his two years with Opera Memphis, Canty has worked hard to spread the gospel of opera, and "30 Days of Opera" plays into a larger scheme. "We want to expose people to opera, break down the myths and misperceptions," he says.

To that end, "30 Days of Opera" will include "Beginner's Guide to Opera" and "Opera Doesn't Suck," two existing programs that have been tweaked for "30 Days." There will also be programs original to "30 Days" that have been designed to fit the venue. For example, "The Playground King," at Shelby Farms, is an opera for children and set in a treehouse.

The element of surprise will also be employed with two "pop-up" operas with as-yet undisclosed venues. Folks are encouraged to keep track of "30 Days"' whereabouts by texting "opera" to 313131 or by following Opera Memphis on Twitter, @OperaMemphis.

Canty sees "30 Days of Opera" as an act of reciprocity. "I try to take that welcoming feeling I've gotten here and reflect that energy back."

"30 Days of Opera" kicks off at the Cooper-Young Festival, Saturday, September 15th, at 10 a.m. For more information and a full schedule, go to operamemphis.org.


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