Being the energetic and vibrant place it is, Habits Gastropub was the meilleur locale for Mirella Amato‘s Hopera, an event that paired craft beer with arias during Toronto Beer Week. Ms. Amato is Canada’s only female cicerone – essentially a beer sommelier (How does one get that job? Can I apply?) – and has an innate love of opera… hence the marriage of her duo passions.
Apparently she’s not the only one who thinks beer and that oh-so-Italian performance style pair on par with wine and cheese: the event was sold out and Habits Gastropub’s back room was full of revellers. The premise is simple enough: Mirella pairs a beer to an opera song, both of which share similar characteristics. Drink the beer, watch the performance. Repeat.
I like to think of myself as a Cultural Alcoholic… in that once you get a few drinks into me I’ll try almost anything. But opera has always eluded me. (Since I don’t understand the lyrics, I fear that the singers could simply be layering insults into their melisma and few would be any the wiser.) Until, that is, Hopera displayed that like a tasty amber ale, after a sip of opera you’re simply wanting more…
Bacarolle (Tales of Hoffman), with Cameron’s Cream Ale
Mein Herr Marquis (Die Fledermaus), with Amsterdam 416 Urban Wheat
O Soave Fanciulla (La Boheme), with Stone Hammer Blackened Imperial Pilsner
La Donna e Mobile (Rigoletto), with Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA
Mesicku (Russalka), with Spearhead Moroccan Brown Ale
Brindisi (La Traviata), Beau’s Night-Märzen Oktoberfest Lager
Hopera’s Performers (bios from the programme)
Toronto-based lyric soprano, Melanie Esseltine is known for the golden colour of her voice and the intellectual curiosity and comedic timing that she brings to the roles and songs she interprets. While at the Atelier lyrique de l’Opera de Montreal and McGill she especially enjoyed bringing life to such roles as Valetto, La Fortuna (Coronazione di Poppea), Adina (L’Elisire d’Amore), Miss Ellen (Lakme), Poussette (Manon), Wellgunde (Das Rheingold) and Clorinda (La Cenerentola).
Jennifer Rasor loves opera, which she describes as the perfect marriage of drama and music. She has worked with the Montreal Opera, Tapestry New Opera, Coro Verdi, Opera by Request, The Montreal Symphony, The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and Kingston Symphony. She will share the stage with Pablo again this season with Toronto Opera Repertoire’s production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann and The Barber of Seville.
Pablo Benitez comes from a musical family and has been singing since he was a child in Venezuela. He lives for the theatre, but breathes music. His most recent engagement was with the Toronto Opera Repertoire productions of Lucia di Lammermoor and The Merry Widow. This season he will be singing the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with TOR. He and Jennifer are currently working on a programme of opera scenes that will tour Canada and Venezuela.
Rina Kim (pianist) is originally from South Korea where she began her piano training. She completed a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours at the University of Western Ontario under Gwen Beamish. She is currently a pianist, organist, harpsichordist, and a chamber musician in her church and within the community.
PS We of course had to order some nosh at Habits, because when you’re at a gastropub of its awesomeness, you simply must…