Opera Night returns to Manayunk this Saturday

Manayunk residents can enjoy an evening of opera and Greek cuisine at Zesty’s during the second opera night this Saturday from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., featuring local opera singers John Nicholas Peters and Jessica Gruver.

The idea was born from a collaboration between Fatima Peters, who has designed costumes for some 60 operas since 1995, and her husband, John Nicholas Peters.

Fatima Peters says she was surprised by the success of the first opera night, which took place on Dec. 15.

“The bar was completely full with a lot of young professionals,” she says. “They were talking loud, and some people had no idea they would hear opera.”

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But as soon as Peters cued the orchestral accompaniment to the first aria, sang by her husband, she says the room quieted. Opera night had won their attention.

John Nicholas Peters says Zesty’s is different than other restaurants in the city that have already established themselves as an opera destination, like the Victor Café.

“For Zesty’s, we needed operatic show stoppers, crowd pleasers, big arias that will appeal to anyone,” he says.

The first opera night featured selections like “The Prologue” from Pagliacci, the “Te Deum” from Tosca, amd “The Toreador” from Carmen.

Fatima Peters says the next opera night on Saturday will follow the direction of popular opera shows, and future events will likely include themes like love songs for Valentine’s Day and musical theater selections.

Peters negotiated with Zesty’s owner Tom Konidaris to create a $40 three-course menu specifically for opera night.

Originally from Brazil, Peters moved to the Philadelphia area in 1988, and has lived in Manayunk since 2001. She says opera resonates with her because of the honesty and rawness performers must impart with each show.

“When a singer goes out with their persona, they’re pretty much naked,” Peters says. “How incredible it is to tell a character and also tell a story by singing.”

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