The south end of Hagerstown’s City Park was full of the sounds of love and heartbreak Sunday afternoon as the Hub Opera Ensemble performed excerpts from an upcoming performance of “Don Giovanni.”
The performance was the first in a new series of events, to be held at 1 p.m. in the park every other Sunday through September, called “Arts in the Park.”
The events are being produced by a partnership between Historic City Park Neighborhoods 1st and the City of Hagerstown’s Parks and Recreation Division, according to a flier for the series.
About 45 people sat on benches, or stood or sat on the grass in front of a temporary stage set up near the park’s concession stand.
“We were just coming to feed the ducks, and we ran into the opera. Very exciting,” said Adam Krentzman, of Williamsport.
“It was great. We really enjoyed it,” he said.
Krentzman watched the performance with his daughter, Lydia, 8.
“I really liked it,” said Lydia, adding it was the first time she’d heard opera.
“It’s my first time, too,” said Averie Hess, 5, of Hagerstown.
Averie came to the park with her grandfather, Perk Hull, to see the opera performance.
Hull said his cousin, Francesca Aguado, was one of the performers.
Aguado portrayed Zerlina, who is engaged to Masetto, but whom Giovanni attempts to seduce.
Hull said the costumes, which had a steampunk theme, were beautiful.
Joe Marschner, a founding board member for the opera ensemble, described steampunk as living in the late 19th century and imagining what the future would look like. The style includes goggles and gears, he said.
Mack Gross and his wife, Claudia Arbelo, also enjoyed the show.
“It’s fun. It’s a little bit of culture,” said Gross, of Hagerstown.
Heather Holman, with the Neighborhoods 1st group, said she thought Sunday’s performance went well, but that it probably would have drawn a bigger crowd if the weather was nicer.
Partway through the performance, a brief drizzle began. A few spectators got out umbrellas or pulled hoods over their heads.
Several people who came to the park for other reasons Sunday heard the operatic performance.
Sitting at a nearby picnic table, Ashley Winters said the singing, in Italian, sounded “pretty good,” but she didn’t understand it.
Hagerstown resident Samantha Catir was sitting on a bench at a nearby playground in the park and heard the opera.
“My grandmother likes ‘Madame Butterfly’ and that kind of thing,” Catir said. But, she said, opera isn’t really “my thing.”
Catir said it would have been easier for her to understand if the opera was sung in English.
Hub Opera Ensemble officials said the full performances of the opera, at Hagerstown Community College’s Kepler Center, will include English subtitles. The opera opens Friday.