An opera might not be the first form of entertainment people expect to find at a casino. But the Kansas Star Arena is working with Wichita Grand Opera Inc. in a new partnership aimed at supporting the arts in the region.
Parvan Bakardiev, the opera’s general director, said the partnership is a big breakthrough for the opera, which plans to put on full-scale operas as well as bring popular acts to the arena.
Celtic Woman, an all-female Irish musical ensemble, will perform its Christmas show at the arena on Dec. 13 as the first act presented under the partnership. Celtic Woman will be accompanied by the 46-piece Wichita Grand Opera Orchestra.
Celtic Woman has sold more than 7 million CDs and DVDs and 3 million concert tickets worldwide since the act made its debut in 2004.
The Kansas Star Arena, which can seat up to 6,000 people, offers a much larger venue than the 2,200-seat Century II Concert Hall where the opera usually performs.
“We’re excited to have a partnership with an entity that gives us financial, technical and other support to popularize as well as expose people of regular means to the highest art form of Western culture,” Bakardiev said.
Bakardiev said partnering with a casino arena is another example of the Wichita opera’s ability to innovate, such as bringing opera to the Bradley Fair shopping center. Wichita Grand Opera likes to offer events for people who otherwise wouldn’t experience opera, he said.
“When they don’t come to us, we go to them,” Bakardiev said.
Tim Lanier, director of Kansas Star Arena, said the partnership began after he looked for an act that fit the arena, came across Celtic Woman and called Bakardiev about using the opera’s orchestra with the act. Then they began looking at other events they could do together, he said.
“It certainly expands the frontier for both of us in what we can look for,” Lanier said.
“It expands the base of what events we can put on, it gives back to the arts, it also makes business sense.”
Tickets for “Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas – The Symphony Tour” start at $49 and go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at the arena box office or at www.kansasstararena.com.
A limited number of tickets for VIP seating will be available for sale to WGO patrons at the Wichita Grand Opera Box Office, 316-262-8054.