Pensacola opera presents songs down south.

2023 Grant Recipient Feature: From Opera to Opry

Date Posted: Aug 15, 2023

Pensacola Opera gives classic opera some country flare as it celebrates 10 years of Foo Foo

In the South, comfort food, craft cocktails, and good music go hand-in-hand, and the Pensacola Opera is bringing together all three for a fun and fabulous night at Foo Foo Fest.

Songs Down South is scheduled for Thursday, November 9, and it’s set to be a toe-tapping good time that showcases the very best music, food, and spirits the region has to offer. “I’m such a fan of southern culture, especially in the sense of community,” explains Corey McKern, artistic director of Pensacola Opera. “In the South, food and music are a huge part of what makes that community, so I couldn’t imagine bringing music to Foo Foo this year without incorporating the food and beverage component too.”

The evening will commence with craft cocktails, wine, and beer curated by Scott Jones, the former Food and Wine Editor of Southern Living, and catering from renowned Chef William “Bill E.” Stitt from Bill-E’s restaurant in Fairhope, Alabama. Bill-E’s is known for its small-batch bacon, and it’s the very bacon many locals and visitors alike enjoy at some of Pensacola’s most popular eateries, including Jackson’s Steakhouse and Restaurant Iron. “His cooking is absolutely incredible,” Corey says. “In addition to his small-batch bacon, we will have Bar-B-Que, banana pudding, and all of the traditional southern trimmings you could want.”

The fun and fellowship will continue with a musical lineup as unique and diverse as Foo Foo Fest itself. Multiple acts will take the stage over the course of the evening, with famed opera singers covering everything from country and bluegrass to gospel and blues. It all kicks off with the Opera Cowgirls, a group comprised of trained opera singers that play opera’s greatest hits in a bluegrass country style with traditional country instruments. The Opera Cowgirls have performed as soloists with major opera companies all over the country, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and Opera Philadelphia, and it will be their very first performance in Pensacola.

Also on the agenda for the evening is well-known performer Janinah Burnett, a veteran of the Metropolitan Opera who recently closed The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. She will be showcasing her unique genre-blending style of singing and feature southern-themed opera arias, southern spirituals, and traditional hymns in new arrangements.

Closing out the night will be Michael Mayes and Megan Marino, opera-singing spouses who have performed all over the world. For Songs Down South, they will be performing a wide range of music, from jazz and opera to bluegrass. “It’s important to me to have a mix of music,” Corey says. “You don’t have to be into opera to enjoy this show. It’s universal music people love and will know but with really serious artists. And just as importantly, it will be fun.”

Adding to the theme of the evening is the event’s emcee, Loosey LaDuca, a nationally-recognized drag performer. LaDuca appeared as Dolly Parton on Season 15 of Rupaul’s Drag

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