You Can Pair Beer and Opera, and It's Amazing
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You Can Pair Beer and Opera, and It’s Amazing

This Toronto Beer Week, treat yourself to a unique evening that pairs baritones and beer.

photo by Robin LeBlanc

photo by Robin LeBlanc

Many people believe that beer pairings start and end with food.

Chocolate and stout, IPA with curry, pilsner with a burger, and Berliner Weisse with white fish. Food pairings are great because they help make the meal itself a singular experience, with each element contributing to complement one another.

However, it should be said that taste is just one part of what makes beer great, and things other than food can be paired with beer. Longtime readers know that I put environment and mood in mind when choosing a beer, and that same principle can be applied to music.

Enter Mirella Amato and Hopera.

Beer educator, Master Cicerone, and author of the award-winning book BeerologyMirella Amato, is one of beer’s most active proponents. For years, she has been on the front lines of beer education, leading informational tastings and workshops for all who are willing to learn. But before Amato became one of the top authorities in beer, she was trained as an opera singer.

Hopera, playing on September 21–22 at the Monarch Tavern, is a project that brings together Amato’s two passions while showing people just how versatile the act of beer pairing can be. Working with Le Prix Nadia Boulanger recipient and Musical Director, Melanie Esseltine, Amato works to pair the distilled emotional essence and concept of a selected aria with the flavour profile of a chosen beer. The end result is a wonderful and intimate live performance by professional singers with beer pairings that contribute to a full-on experience of the senses.

As an example of how complex a pairing can get, here is an excerpt from last year’s programme:

Donde lieta usci, La Bohème – G. Puccini

Mimi’s lover, Rodolfo, has been indulging in fits of jealousy in order to mask his grief at the knowledge of her impending death. To spare him the pain of admitting this, she sadly proceeds to end their affair, asking him to gather up all the things she has left in his room and have them returned to her.

Beer Pairing: Amsterdam Crucible – Framboise aged in Southbrook Cabernet Merlot barrels

This beer, like the breakup Mimi proposes, is without bitterness and, like Mimi and Rodolfo’s love, the flavours in this Framboise have been impacted by external factors; barrel-aging contributes wood, deep fruit and funky earth notes.

I had the pleasure to attend a Hopera event in previous years and can attest that it is a beautiful and engaging event, showcasing the versatility of beer while inflaming the emotions in a way that only opera can. As we enter a jam-packed Toronto Beer Week, Hopera stands out as an event that would be criminal to miss.  

And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlour.

Tickets for Hopera are still available, with sales ending on 5:30 p.m. on the day of each show. Any tickets available will be for sale at the door.