Pint Sized Performances with Hopera

Just before the new year on a mild Texas winter night, you might have heard some holiday classics sung in an enchantfully operatic way coming from the tap room. One of those voices was Megan Berti, the co-creator of the appropriately titled Hopera. I had the pleasure of learning about Hopera and how Megan and her collaborators crafted such a unique pairing of both craft beer and opera.

How long has Hopera been in the works?       

It’s been in the works for a while and has evolved quite a bit, but the original idea began when I was working at Drink of Ages Pub. The owner Jon Denman had local punk bands perform on their tiny stage, and I thought…why not opera? Jon thought it was a great idea and even came up with the name “Hopera” since DoA was a Montrose craft beer bar. I started putting something together that would fit in the space, but of course, the bar ended up closing before that could happen Thankfully after the pandemic shutdowns were letting up I met 8th Wonder co-owner Sean Rosenbaum. I was planning a Valentine’s Day recital with a couple of friends and needed a place to perform, and Sean offered 8th Wonder Distillery. We packed the place and had an awesome time on a Tuesday night, so we decided to plan more classical concerts and expand to perform at Eureka Heights. We’ve had a blast and experienced tons of great feedback from audiences, so now we’re ready to try a fully staged opera! Houston is such a great city for the performing arts and has this amazing craft beer and liquor scene, so Hopera seems like the logical next step.

 How long have you been an Opera performer and what are some highlights of your career?

I’ve been performing in operas since I was in high school – so about 20 years now. I’ve been able to sing here in Houston with Houston Grand Opera, Opera in the Heights, Musiqa – but I’ve also performed in California, Oklahoma, Florida, Prague, Belgium, and Germany. I’m most known for premiering new operas and performing Rossini’s Cinderella, Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Verdi’s Requiem. But really we’ve got a whole team of 5 artists helping to put together our performances – 3 singers (myself, Brennan Blankenship, and Ashley Duplechien), 1 instrumentalist (Rene Salazar), and 1 visual artist (Corey Phelps) – so we have a combined operatic experience of around 70 years. We’ve all had different career paths, but we are all passionate about creating meaningful art – and we all call Houston our home!

Why is supporting the arts important to you?

Supporting the arts is important because the arts reflect and support the people we share our city with. Houston is the fourth largest city in the US, and it is through the arts that our vast and diverse population shares its unique cultures and perspectives. Of course, art is entertainment, a break from the grind of our work-a-holic society, but live theater fosters other unique skills that nothing else really develops. Storytelling is at the heart of opera, and the marriage of music and drama evokes a deep connection with the central characters that inspire empathy for people outside of our immediate circle. This is made all the more important in our world today where most of us communicate primarily online in detached and anonymous messages. As a performer, one of the most important skills I’ve learned is to let mistakes happen and immediately move beyond them because the show must go on! Usually audiences don’t even notice when something goes wrong, and I find that to be a refreshing reminder not to sweat the small stuff in life. Another life skill the performing arts teaches us is the value of collaboration. Live theater demands that everyone involved stays focused and engaged in careful listening, sensitive reacting, and precise coordination with sometimes dozens of colleagues in real-time. Despite the stereotype of the opera diva, the reality is that successful performers strike a delicate balance of confidence and humility: we need enough of an ego to put ourselves out there, but we also have to work together and make our needs secondary to a larger work. If that’s not a deep allegory for accepting your place in the universe, I don’t know what is! Thankfully we live in a city that values and supports the arts, and we are so proud to have already been awarded a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance to help us present our first opera CARMENcita at 8th Wonder Distillery and here at Eureka Heights in March!

How can future patrons find out more information?

We may be a young arts organization here in town, but we are eager to share our passions with Houston! We’re on Instagram, Facebook, and even Tiktok, youtube, and X – you can follow us @hoperahtx for updates on all of our upcoming shows, or check out our website and join our mailing list! We’re focused on supporting local artists and local businesses, so be on the lookout for us at your favorite neighborhood tasting room.

Thanks to Hopera and Megan for taking the time to answer our questions. On behalf of Eureka Heights, this has been another edition of Brews News!