Opera in a Flash

Opera in a Flash

Sharing vocal talent with the world is JTVA’s mission. Yet singers spend much of their time behind closed doors, refining their talent in studios, in rehearsal, and onstage. An opera flash mob is a chance to flip the paradigm and bring the stage outside, in public. Small wonder that the public gets so much joy from it.

Our flash mob opera in downtown Oakland started as such artist actions do—unassuming, seemingly scattered, but building to a crescendo. There were 39 singers planted incognito, sipping cappuccinos, walking by, and chatting.

Suddenly, two men embrace, and then a singer stands atop the concrete steps and transforms the plaza into a stage to interpret the toreador song from Carmen. Passersby gather, respond to the soloist and, finally, join in as the lucky workers on break bask in their talent. There is even a brief staging of a bullfight!

The public responded with accolades.

“It’s an awesome surprise for lunchtime.”
“Caught me by surprise.”
“Little bit of magic.”
“My bucket list item.”

But the most sparkling moment was summed up in one man’s breathless recounting of his experience:

“I had no idea…and then, the rush from this side here toward me freaked me out for a moment. Then the singing started, and my heart melted. That’s all I can say. You brightened my day. You just really made my day.”


James Toland shared that the operatic flash mob—which took ten months to plan—represents the organization’s goal to “promote singing everywhere and to everyone.” Thank you to Oakland for receiving our heartfelt gift.

Mia Georgiu