alcina’s island: a picnic operetta

September 12, 2011

Last weekend I volunteered a couple of hours of my time to prepare food for A Picnic Operetta, a summer-long interactive performance that tours community garden spaces during the summer harvest season. The performance is put on by Mixed Precipitation, a performance initiative exploring text, space and new dramatic forms.

This particular operetta, Alcina’s Island is a colourful re-imagining of George Frideric Handel’s 1735 opera Alcina. Public performance art wrapped around food? My kind of show.

The performance is complemented by a five course sampling menu of locally sourced treats created especially for this performance by Chef Nick Schneider.

Each “dish” is incorporated into the story and passed through the audience to enjoy as they watch the operetta.

We dehydrated red bell peppers to act as “jerky”; chopped mint and sliced watermelon, which was eventually stuffed with feta cheese and sprinkled with black salt; cut out bread for miniature sandwiches; and stuffed apples with miniature scoops of homemade maple caramel; and more.

If you’ve been reading my blog a while you might remember that I volunteered for this last year. You can read the recap of that experience here.

I love the whole concept of the Picnic Operetta, from the re-imagining of a traditional opera into something fun, tongue-in-cheek, yet still beautifully performed.

There’s nothing quite like visiting a community garden to see colourful characters dashing around in costume, singing opera. And all the while a team of people are completing the food preparation, plating and serving the food to the audience – food that is designed to enrich the story by reflecting themes, geography, and characters.

You can check out The Perennial Plate’s short film about last year’s operetta here. For the full schedule of Alcina’s Island: A Picnic Operetta, check out their website.

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