New meaning to opera in Chicago's Humboldt Park

Non-profit organization creates theater in large outdoor spaces


By Kathy Woods

It's a cool evening in Chicago's Humboldt Park at New Moon on the Lagoon, a lullaby parade sponsored by Opera-Matic. People of all ages and ethnicities follow lull-a-bikes around the lagoon, carrying flashlights and singing lullabies as they visit "lost light" stations.

Mention the word "opera" and people usually know what you're talking about. Say the word "Opera-Matic" and people might wonder if you know what you're talking about. Opera-Matic is a non-profit organization formed by artists in the Humboldt Park neighborhood who use their art to contribute to the community. The name means stories told in song, delivered by people-powered parade vehicles.

The creative minds at Opera-Matic work with diverse groups of people who come together to create theater in large outdoor spaces.

"Some people think of the events as spectacle performance," Chief Creative Officer Mark Messing says. "We like to think of it as place-making; not just occupying space, but having a reason to be there and a reward for gathering, giving meaning to the space. The most amazing thing about it is that here is a crowd of people talking and singing together - and goodwill and well-being sneak up on you."


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