Friday, March 24, 2017

A Creative Revolution in Frisco!

Something magical happened on Saturday, March 18th, 2017 in Frisco, TX. 

It was a beautiful, 75-degree evening, and about 4,000 people congregated outdoors at a football facility's outdoor pavilion on a Saturday evening. . . to watch the Dallas Opera's LIVE Simulcast of Madame Butterfly.

They started arriving around 5pm and brought lawn chairs, blankets, strollers, and my goodness, LOTS of kids!  Before the opera started, the children enjoyed face painting, butterfly crafts, games, behind-the-scenes interviews with KLUV's Jody Dean.  

As the sun began to set, the excitement and anticipation for the opening of the Opera was palpable.  Not a square inch was available on the football turf, and people were spilling onto the concrete to find a spot to sit.  

Then suddenly, projected on the big jumbotron, was the stunning, massive chandelier inside the Winspear Opera House in Dallas.  It truly felt like we were right there with our arts friends in Dallas.  We could hear the audience's chatter inside the Opera House, and the orchestra's instruments warming up.  

The announcer began speaking, and the chandelier slowly disappeared into the ceiling, as it does before every performance.  After the National Anthem was performed beautifully by the orchestra, the crowd cheered, and then everyone settled back into their blanketed seats and lawn chairs.  A hush came over the crowd; we were ready to step into another world, told through the art of musical storytelling.

As the opera began, I wondered, "Would people stay for at least the first act?  Would they be fidgety and bored?  Would they decide after 10 minutes they had tried enough?"  To my amazement, almost everyone sat in rapt attention.  The videography brought you close up on stage, so you could see every expression, emotion, and nuance of color.  The audience was quiet, respectful, and engaged.  And it was a vastly diverse crowd- young, old, single, married with kids, all walks of life and all cultures.  But this group came with a singular purpose; they had all chosen to give up their entire Saturday night to attend the Opera, and that's exactly what they did.  Almost all 4,000 people stayed for the entire 3 hours. 

What this event showed so clearly is the NEED, not just a want, for greater performing arts programming in Frisco.  I'm not talking Jimmy Buffett concerts, which are still great to have.  But entertainment is different from performing arts, which includes opera, symphony, choir, Broadway, and more.  The size of the audience at the Opera Simulcast in Frisco was the first tangible proof that if you build it, they will come.  Actually, they are already here!!

Frisco is known for its hotels, office parks, malls, sports facilities, and great schools.  But we CAN have more and expand the pie, bringing balance and something for everyone.  Someday, Frisco will be a destination for the ARTS, and I won't stop until we get there!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Opera at a Football Facility. . . Why Not?

Thanks to generous patrons and sponsors of the Dallas Opera, Frisco residents will enjoy a FREE Live Simulcast of Puccini's Madame Butterfly in the outdoor pavilion at the Star facility (yes, the Dallas Cowboys HQ) on Saturday March 18th, 2017.  What an innovative way to introduce the masses to opera in a casual, non-threatening setting!

This is the Dallas Opera's 15th free, public simulcast, but the first arts event at the Star in Frisco.  So why should you attend this event, even if you (or your kids) have never been to the opera?  Let me explain. 

When I was 4 years old, my parents took me to my first orchestra concert.  The Chicago Symphony was performing at Orchestra Hall downtown, and we sat near the front.  My parents are not proficient at any musical instruments, but they wanted to expose me to the world of music and orchestra.  I was completely mesmerized by the violins, the sweet vibrato, the flying fingers, the experience of being engulfed in the incredible ranges of emotion and sound.  I told my parents that night I had to learn the violin, and they didn't believe I was serious.  So what did I do?  I created a violin from a Kleenex box, ruler, rubber bands, and a chopstick bow.  I was determined to play the violin!  Eventually my parents realized I wasn't going to give up, and they found a great violin teacher for me.  With her guidance, I performed my first concert at age 5 with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra at the Metro Center, and at that young age, I realized that the violin was my voice.  It was how people could know the real Tammy.  I went on to study music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, and I can honestly say that my involvement in music has completely changed my life.  It set me on a course to where I am today, still performing both piano and violin, and now advocating for the arts in my new hometown of Frisco, TX.

All that started from a spark at one concert, on one night, at age 4.

Exposing children to the vast, powerful, and engaging world of the arts is a passion of mine, and it's something that I believe every child should experience.  We never know the full impact of a child's first taste of music, dance, theater, and visual art, but I can attest, it plants a seed that can take deep roots with time.  There is great potential to birth inspiration as you open young minds to something they've never heard or seen before.

So why not give the opera a try on March 18th?  Who knows- it could be the start of something new and exciting, for you and your kids!  And what do you have to lose- this event is completely FREE!  All the typical barriers that might have kept you from attending are gone: paying for tickets, driving to downtown Dallas, getting a sitter, or having to wrangle the kids to be quiet for a few hours.  There's even a Family Fun Zone of free butterfly-themed activities from 5-7pm before the show starts at 7:30pm.  Even if you don't know the first thing about opera, just come.  Give it a chance.  If you don't like it, no one will judge you for leaving, but if you are intrigued, stay.  Opera is essentially beautiful, musical storytelling, and what better way to try the opera than relaxing under the stars with your loved ones?  So pack up your picnic blankets and chairs, bring your friends and family . . . and feed your soul in ways you never knew possible.

To reserve your free tickets, click here.