A cultural highlight for the summer was the Michigan Opera Theatre Summer Serenade July 28th at Grand Circus Park in Downtown Detroit.
Although the day was hot and humid, the evening breeze and sun sliding behind the tall buildings made for a wonderfully comfortable evening.
I haven't been to Grand Circus Park for an event yet, so I was not sure what to expect. The park is located away from the river and near Comerica Park, located right across from the Michigan Opera Theatre. The park, a mere few acres, an island in the middle of an intersection, was created in the mid 1800's and has been a gathering place for workers and residents since then. It was taken to the next level as a premiere gathering spot as part of Quicken Loans' Dan Gilbert's vision for revitalization.
Fortunately, there was no Tiger game that evening, so traffic and parking were simple. Not quite sure the best way to park or if we would need our lawn chairs, we looped once around the park before finding great parking directly across an entrance for only $6.
We passed the lone food truck for the evening which specialized in BBQ. We had already eaten, but definitely appreciated the bottled water for only $1.00 per bottle. A deal for sure!
The stage was set at the western edge of the park and metal bistro tables and chairs were set up for an excellent view. The warm-up act, the Violin Divas were in mid-set so we quickly found seats as the violin ensemble enthusiastically played a lovely piece. They bill themselves as recreational, but they were quite competent and I look forward to seeing them play in their own right. Check them out on youtube!
I walked around a bit between acts and was delighted to see such a great crowd-young, old, multi-cultural, enjoying this perfect summer evening. A father and toddler aged son were playing with the bean bag toss, workers coming right from the office, or perhaps dinner downtown, were loosening their ties and enjoying the breeze. The park also features an outdoor ping pong table and other activities to enjoy during the evening. There were also highly visible security guards who chatted easily with the crowds but I am sure provided many folks with peace of mind.
In a matter of moments a journalist provided introductory comments and then the strains of Brindisi from La Traviata, sung by the five member troupe erupted from the stage. The vocals were at the forefront the entire evening, accompanied simply by digital piano. The performers dressed in evening casual, seemed relaxed, befitting the park like setting. There were so many highlights from the evening, but a true stand out for me was of course Summertime, the vocals gliding through the upper register, effortlessly, the melancholy melody befitting this late summer evening, a wearied respite in a city that is perpetually renewing itself.
I would definitely go back for another event. If your family enjoys cultural experiences in an urban setting, then you would likely not be disappointed by this inexpensive evening. It could be a great introduction to a genre of music that they might not otherwise listen to, in a comfortable urban park setting, providing the opportunity for those with young children to play outdoor games and dance while listening to some of Michigan's most talented musicians.