A musical celebration of all things Italy is coming to Balzac later this month.
Bella Italia, an all-female-led performance presented by Calgary-based Divas Opera, will grace the stage at the Polaris Centre for the Performing Arts on Aug. 23.
The operatic performance will feature the vocal duo of soprano Kathleen Morrison and mezzo soprano Barbara King – two critically acclaimed opera singers who have performed in concerts across Canada and internationally.
“We have an all-Italian repertoire and delicious Italian wine and cocktails,” said Morrison of the upcoming show. “It’s going to be a fantastic evening.”
According to Morrison, opera fans can expect to hear some well-known Italian arias on Aug. 23, including “Vissi d'arte” from Puccini's Tosca; “O mio Babbino caro” from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi; “Ave Maria” from Verdi's Otello; and selections from Donizetti's Roberto Devereaux.
For listeners who are less in tune with the classical opera scene, the concert will also include some more modern Italian pop (canzone) songs, such as “Time to say goodbye” as made famous by Andrea Boccelli, as well as “O sole mio” and “Torna a surriento” by the Three Tenors.
As Italy was the birthplace of opera music, Morrison said it's a country that is near and dear to her heart.
“For myself and Barbara, who make up Divas Opera, Italian opera is our passion,” she said. “We love singing it and performing it because it’s so captivating for the audience. It grabs you. It’s the music that everyone loves and recognizes. We just thought it’s time to do a night of just Italian repertoire.”
The performance will feature more than just powerful vocals, however. Accompanying Morrison's and King's singing will be the piano expertise of Mimi Park and the all-female members of the Bridgeland Quartet.
Morrison said it just so happened that Bella Italia will feature all-female performers, but it's a coincidence they've run with.
“We are bringing in the Bridgeland Quartet, so we have a string quartet that will be playing with us for all the pieces throughout the evening,” she said. “They’re a fun group of ladies, so it adds an extra layer to the concert and helps make the music a little more lush and full-scale than just having it be piano alone.”
Admission to Bella Italia is $35 per person and the show is set to get underway at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Polariscentre.ca
In addition to the music and fitting with the Italian theme of the evening, Morrison noted the recently renovated Polaris Centre now features a full bar, and will have Italian wine and cocktails in stock.
“They have some beautiful wines there and some handcrafted cocktails like Negronis and aperol spritzes,” she said. “And prosecco, of course – you need prosecco for an Italian evening.”
No stranger to the Polaris Centre, Morrison previously performed a German-inspired concert there in 2019 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
Three years after that sold-out show and in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, she said she's excited to sing on the Polaris Centre stage once again.
Now that concerts are back in full force, Morrison said Bella Italia provides the perfect excuse to get out of the house and enjoy some classic opera from the boot-shaped country.
“I think people are just ready to come back out, see things, and gather again,” she said. “For us at Divas Opera, it’s a chance for us to do the music we love, and just have everyone in the same place, enjoying a night out together. That’s what that Italian flavour is about.”