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Put Another Dime in the Jukebox

Pensacola Opera sings your requested songs at this year’s Jukebox Gala
By Jennie McKeon

Guests will be wined and dined and even serenaded by the Pensacola Opera at their sixth annual Jukebox Gala.

The Jukebox Gala will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. at New World Landing. This is one of the most popular events of the year where music lovers can enjoy opera face-to-face while savoring a gourmet dinner.

“This is an experience unlike any other,” said special events coordinator of the Pensacola Opera, Jennifer Knisbell. “At the Jukebox Gala, you get a connection with the singers you cannot get in a theatre.”

Tickets are $100 per person, which includes your gourmet dinner and wine. Requesting your favorite song is a bit pricier. To request a fan favorite, such as “Old Man River,” you bid silent auction style. The highest bidder gets the song serenaded to their table. Bidding starts at $250. All proceeds of the evening go toward the opera productions and youth opera productions for the year.

“As times get increasingly tough, schools are having trouble funding arts programs,” Knisbell said. “Fundraising and galas help support our productions and education and outreach events such as From Words to Music, and free performances for the children.”

Not only is music up for auction, but there will be themed baskets, and a weekend trip to Napa Valley, Calif. which includes airfare and hotel accommodations.

Music is the star of the Jukebox Gala, but the gourmet dinner may not be forgotten as well. Chef Tony Wall of 600 South has created course upon course of rich dishes. Wine maker Daniel Gehrs will be pairing his California wines with each course.

Pensacola Opera fans will recognize soprano Jane Redding, who has performed at the past five Jukebox Galas. As much as she enjoys a stage production, Redding loves the intimate nature of the Jukebox Gala.

“On stage there is so much lighting that you can barely make out the audience,” Redding explained. “At the Jukebox Gala, it’s very personal. Most people experience operatic singing from a stage; at the gala you’re within spitting distance. You can feel the vibration and the power of the voice. It’s apples and oranges when comparing the Jukebox Gala to a theatre production, but I love them both.”

“Having the singers and audience be one-on-one builds a deeper connection and appreciation,” Knisbell added. “I hope the audience takes that with them.”

Even if you’re not an opera fan, as a general music lover you can enjoy the gala. You may not know every song, but the gala usually plays recognizable hits such as “Over the Rainbow,” which is usually sung by Redding.

“Anybody can enjoy the Jukebox Gala,” Knisbell said. “It’s pretty much the perfect event to invite people to. It’s a gateway event. It gets people involved. Opera lovers introduce their friends to opera music and a good 75 percent come back every year.”

The Jukebox Gala is the perfect event to support the arts and support our local opera house. Any music lover can enjoy being one-on-one with powerful voices and every opera lover should support the event so that productions are funded all year long.

“I hope the audience builds a deeper love for all the beautiful singers,” Redding said. “Pensacola has such a vibrant art community. We’re lucky to have an opera company—not just an opera company, but a great opera company.”

PENSACOLA OPERA’S JUKEBOX GALA
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
WHERE: New World Landing, 600 S. Palafox St.
COST: $100 per person
DETAILS: 433-6737, or pensacolaopera.com