“Complex with rich, earthy notes” might be the way you hear some describe their wine, but what about opera? With their Opera Tastings event series, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL), an A&E grantee, is hoping to upend the way you approach – and even think about – opera.

Each spring, OTSL partners with venues across the region to combine opera music with food, wine, and drink in a social, family-style culinary experience for 100-150 people. They provide some of St. Louis’s best chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists with a set list of inspirational music to then create unique menus for each event. The menus are paired with live performances by OTSL young artists for a fun, engaging experience for all. Audiences are given tasting cards to rate the pairings and provide feedback along the way.

“It’s really a lot of fun for everyone,” said Joe Gfaller, OTSL director of marketing and public relations. “The chefs get to be creative and have fun in the kitchen. The singers get to sing in these intimate locations. And the audiences get to feel music on their skin.”

Started in 2015 as a way to make the art form more approachable, Opera Tastings is the brainchild of Gfaller.

“We were looking to answer this question of how to reach audiences where they are and we know opera can be an acquired taste. If wine is an acquired taste, we thought maybe we could pair the two in places you don’t expect us to be. If we can get to within a mile or two of where you live, maybe you’ll try us,” said Gfaller.

OTSL varies the locations and venues a bit each year to reach different audiences. In January they hosted events from downtown St. Louis to St. Charles to Columbia, Missouri. This April, OTSL will host five Opera Tasting events at Balaban’s in Chesterfield, Cleveland-Heath in Edwardsville, SqWires in Lafayette Square, Vicia in the Coretex District, and The Omega Center in North St. Louis.

“The program keeps expanding,” said Gfaller. “Most of the people attending are new to OTSL and most are coming back to our season performances. Many are even coming to more than one tasting and bringing friends.”

Tickets to each tasting are $20 all-inclusive.  Attendees also get $10 toward any season performance at the event. Opera Tastings is presented by PNC Arts Alive and funded through a Building Audiences for Sustainability grant from the Wallace Foundation.

For a complete list of Opera Tastings, visit ExperienceOpera.org/OperaTastings.