From opera to community theater, Madras is awash in culture

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1850s Paris alive at the PAC, and the local theater group will take the stage this weekend

A sea of culture swept through Madras Sunday afternoon as OperaBend performed "La Bohème" at the Madras Performing Arts Center.

Powerful, rich voices singing Italian filled the auditorium, and a chorus of about 50 performers brought 1850 Paris to life. Fortunately for the non-Italian-speaking audience, supertitles were projected high above the stage so all could follow the story of love and heartbreak.

Earlier in the weekend, the opera group performed two shows at Redmond's Ridgeview High School's auditorium. Those, along with Sunday's performance at the Madras PAC, kicked off a tour they are embarking on. While organizers wondered how opera would go over with Madras-area residents. At $15 a ticket, Sunday's show drew roughly the same amount of attendance as the shows in Deschutes County did, filling up the large majority of the faciliity. The opera group came away very pleased with the Madras attendance and the exuburance of the crowd.

Certainly helping the opera's attendance and excitement was its showcasing the local talent of soprano Cristine Keever. Keever played the role of the scandalous, flirtatious Musetta. She sang and acted magnificently, and drew the heartiest ovations.

Many locals have wondered if and when a "major concert" might come to the center. That could happen someday. But there are some economic realities that make that difficult. The PAC has 562 seats. According to several websites that claim to know booking costs for acts, a "one-hit-wonder" band from the '80s usually commands at least $25,000 for a show. That would mean a ticket price of $50 to cover the expense of paying the band. It would take a pretty spectacular one hit to lure a Grant out of a high desert wallet.

Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Mathews ... that will run $1 million per show. That would be $1,800 a ticket. Reportedly over $500,000 per show, acts like Cold Play, Jason Aldean, Katy Perry, Keith Urban. Between $200,000 to $400,000, Sugarland, Pitbull, Zac Brown; and it will cost you at least $100,000 for Willie Nelson, The Offspring, Weezer and Little Big Town.

And that's just the cost to get the acts to come to town. Security, stage augmentation, ticketing ... other costs exist.

Filling the PAC at $100 a ticket brings in $56,200. There aren't many, if any, acts that would command such a ticket price that will show up in Madras for $56,000. So, barring a donor with a million bucks burning a hole, it might take some doing for Garth Brooks to come to the PAC for a cozy show.

This week, the community theater group will take the stage, performing for the first time at the PAC. Their play "Let's Hang Him and Read the Will" is a free event for all to enjoy — but it certainly is not free to put on. The theater group has obtained some nice donations from local businesses that have helped to offset some of the costs. Those who attend — or those who just want to support the arts in Jefferson County — are urged to donate as well. There will be donation jars at the show. If you go, you'll soon discover that the performance earns your contribution.

The play will be running from Thursday through Sunday. Come experience a second consecutive weekend of outstanding performance art. Let the sea of culture wash over you.