Weekend pick: Annual California Opera festival kicks off

An August tradition proudly continues: California Opera’s big summer festival opens this weekend at the Big Red Church (2121 N. Van Ness) with an Artists Showcase concert (7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4) and the beloved annual “Doctors in Concert” performance (7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5).

California Opera is a longtime Fresno institution under the guidance of the indefatigable Edna Garabedian, whose professional opera career on the stages of Europe sparked a lifelong desire to train younger singers. Each year, students come from across the country to study with noted professionals and perform for Fresno audiences.

The opening Artists Showcase on Friday includes presentations for different participant categories – youth, young artists, emerging artists, professional artists, and faculty artists.

The doctors concert on Saturday will feature doctors Don Gaede, Harvey Edmonds, Marshall Flam, John Ambrose, and Avis Ambrose, supported by opera artists. The annual fundraising event has raised thousands of dollars for the St. Agnes Medical Library each year, which has enabled them to develop digital reserves of books, research, and medical resources, including resources on art and music therapy and the healing effects of music.

All of the performances at the Big Red Church are open for free-will donation either at the door or in advance through the website. You can also make a donation on the website. Gratitude for a minimum $50 donation includes a pass to all summer events, including the “La Traviata” performance (see below), which is a ticketed event, and the pass guarantees admission to and reserved seating for all the summer events

Looking ahead, the festival begins a Wagnerian program for emerging artists. An introduction to Wagner’s Ring Cycle features a performance of “Das Rheingold” (2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, also at the Big Red Church). And the festival finale features a fully staged version of “La Traviata” (2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium).


Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Victor Kral

    One of the many jewels of the Central Valley, is having Edna Garabedian, as one of our own. We are so fortunate to have this Icon of Opera.


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