Why opera is hitting the bar scene in New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- The very first opera in what would become the United States as we know it happened in New Orleans when George Washington was president.

For more than the century that followed, New Orleans was a premier destination for people to see operas and for composers to reveal their latest works.  These days, opera is rare on Bourbon Street, until the New Orleans Opera Association steps in.

img_9549The New Orleans Opera Association is beginning its 10th season of the Opera on Tap program.   Instead of having opera aficionados arrive at the Mahalia Jackson Theater or other venues to see a stage performance, Opera on Tap takes the performances to them -- in bars.

The Opera on Tap program runs from September to May.  Performers visit bars, on a rotating basis, on most Wednesdays.  Each week, the performances are either at the Four Points By Sheraton French Quarter hotel on Bourbon Street, the Rusty Nail bar, or the Abita Brew Pub on the North Shore.

The crowd includes everything from hipsters to grandparents.  Some are opera fans; others are first timers.

"We have had people who had no idea what they were in for and then kind of get hooked," said the Opera Association's Carol Rausch.

The performances are free.  The Opera Association also offers other events and hopes that new fans who catch an Opera on Tap performance will also buy tickets to one of its big performances.