Cheese, Wine and a Little Verdi?

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Cheese, Wine and a Little Verdi?

Please join me in welcoming my good friend Jennifer Schuder, Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Community Outreach for the Dallas Opera, with a pretty cool take on wine, cheese, and opera.  Scroll down for some good ideas for celebrating #ww.

Have you ever wondered which wine or cheese best pairs with an opera?  I bet not.  But when I started here at the Dallas Opera eight seasons ago, it quickly became apparent that opera is perfect for the pairing. 

Food, wine and opera have gone together since the first opera took the stage.   There are operas that have entire arias/scenes dedicated to wine and feasting.  My first  season at TDO included CARMEN and CINDERELLA.  Both pieces had key scenes that involved food and wine.  In CARMEN, everyone gathers at the tavern to toast the Toreador.  And in CINDERELLA there was a fantastic wedding banquet. Food and wine are central to our lives; it should have been no surprise to me that to would be an important component to the story telling in opera.

 I can think of very few operas that have been part of the TDO season over the years that did not include some type of banquet or party scene. These scenes were essential in setting many of the critical plot points for the operas.  LA BOHEME has the scene in Café Momus with Musetta’s Waltz; the 1st Act of LA TRAVIATA is set at Violetta’s Paris apartment and highlighted by drinking song lead by her young suitor; DIE FLEDERMAUS’s Act 2 aria is dedicated to champagne; and MACBETH (or the Scottish Opera) has a banquet were he begins to go mad and see the men he has killed.   Not only do these scenes set the stage, but they also give us some of the most memorable and recognizable moments in opera.  You may not think you know Musetta’s Waltz… trust me, you do.

Little Verdi

But I think my favorite opera food moment so far is from a production of DOCTOR MIRACLE that the Dallas Opera is doing for one of its educational programs.  There is an entire 6-minute aria on an omelet – the virtues of the omelet and the eggs and butter that go into the omelet.  The best part is the actual omelet that is made of foam and painted to look realistic complete with fake green chives on top. The kids who see the production love it!

I took this job not knowing a great deal about opera.  So over the years I have looked for ways to learn about opera in the context of my own knowledge.  Food and wine was a great fit for me.  I am never going to know everything about the music. I am not musical.  (I was the kid who was asked to mouth the words in the choir competitions in Jr High.  Ironic I know, now that I work for an opera company.) But, I can gain great insight into the background and setting of an opera by looking at what the characters might be eating and drinking.  It has been great fun over the years to eat and drink my way through the seasons with Italian wine, schnitzel, champagne, and tapas. 

My interest in food and wine has extended into the Dallas Opera’s community outreach efforts.  About 5 years ago, the TDO launched a summer event series that included several food and wine events each month focusing on the upcoming operas.  This summer we continue the tradition with Cheesy Opera Tuesdays, a monthly cheese tasting and happy hour at Scardello Artisan Cheese and Wine Wednesday at Komali where each month we will taste 3 to 4 wines handpicked to pair with an upcoming opera.  A complete listing of food and wine events plus all the summer@theopera events can be found at

Want more information on the subject of Opera and Wine, check out the TDO blog post Edible Opera.

 Event Details

From June to August, the Dallas Opera will offer monthly wine and cheese events as part of our summer@theopera event series.  Each month, we pair wine and cheese with an opera from the upcoming season – Verdi’s AIDA (June), Puccini’s TURANDOT (July) and Dominick Argento’s THE ASPERN PAPERS (August.) 

Cheesy Opera Happy Hours are in partnership with Scardello Artisan Cheese.  Cheese Monger and owner Rich Rogers will handpick cheeses that related to the opera in focus that month. Each Cheesy Opera HH is only $15 per person which includes 2 glasses of wine and a cheese tasting.  First event is on June 12, 2012 @ 6:30 PM.  Seating is limited, reserve your spot online at or call 214-443-1000.

Wine Wednesdays will be at Komali where Chef/owner Abraham Salum pairs each opera with wines using the opera’s setting or the composer’s heritage as inspiration. Event will include a sampling of 3 to 4 wines and small bites.  Wine Wednesdays are $20 per person.   First event is on June 13, 2012 @ 6:30 PM.  Seating is limited, reserve your spot online at or call 214-443-1000.

Interesting in attending all the Cheesy Opera HH or all the Wine Wednesdays?  You can reserve seating at all 3 Cheesy Opera HH with the Cheese Board ($35 per person – for 3 events) OR at all 3 Wine Wednesdays with the TDO Wine Flight ($50 per person – for 3 events.)


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