Music News & Reviews

Lakeside opera to feature classics, pop, Broadway

Wichita Grand Opera is celebrating the end of their season with a free outdoor concert at Bradley Fair. Guest and resident artists, plus accomplished classical and jazz musicians, will perform opera classics, pop songs and Broadway hits.

“It’s opera for everyone,” said Parvan Bakardiev, Wichita Grand Opera’s general director. “This concert is Wichita Grand Opera’s gift to the community.”

The company will perform numbers from “Die Fledermaus,” “Carmen,” “South Pacific” and several pop and Broadway tunes.

“We want to show off the versatility of opera singers,” Bakardiev said.

“God Bless the USA,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be performed in honor of the U.S. military.

“Because it is Armed Forces Day, we will begin the concert with a patriotic salute to our men and women who have served and currently serve in the various branches,” said Margaret Ann Pent, Wichita Grand Opera’s founder and artistic director.

Baritone Michael Nansel, one of the stars of this year’s season, will join in these songs.

“Kansans are very patriotic and very strong people,” he said. “It’s an honor to be able to sing these songs.”

Because the concert takes place outdoors, the performer’s voices will be amplified. The 35 singers will wear formal black attire so that they can easily move from opera to pop.

Based on previous years’ attendance, Wichita Grand Opera expects more than 4,000 audience members. Some seats will be available, but attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs and blankets.

Bakardiev hopes that both opera aficionados and novices will attend.

“This gives people the opportunity to shop and dine and come out on their own turf,” Bakardiev said. “This is a unique program, and we’re utilizing the ambiance.”

Both Bakardiev and Pent sang at opera on the lake events in Austria.

“My most memorable experience was performing on a floating stage at the Bregenz Festival (Austria),” Pent said.

Nansel, although not on a floating stage, loves performing at this event. This is his third year.

“It’s always been fun to interact with an audience that may or may not have heard classical music before,” Nansel said. “Music permeates a Kansan’s soul.”

Although he lives in Maryland and travels throughout the country to sing, Nansel’s heart is in the Midwest, where he was raised.

The Boeing Jazz Band, along with many of the classical musicians from the Wichita Grand Opera orchestra also will perform.

Pent hopes the spectacular voices, exquisite music and beautiful scenery will thrill the bystanders.

“When all the various elements of the event come together the way you plan and hope, it creates a magical experience,” Pent said. Along with gentle winds, Pent said she hopes for “the rising of the moon on cue.”