For decades, Lelia Gowland has attended the opera with her mother. Her family, now a sixth-generation presence in the city, prioritized cultural outings, so opera became an interest she carried with her when she moved away and continued upon her return. It was, however, New Orleans Opera’s most recent production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly that compelled her to get involved. Her response after the performance was both intensely personal and one that emboldened her decades-long relationship with the art form. She wanted to help.
Gowland and her husband, Cole Newton, own two bars in the greater metro area – Twelve Mile Limit in Mid-City and The Domino on St. Claude. As New Orleans Opera staff realized that there was a need to continue the conversations prompted by Madame Butterfly, the pair were quick to offer Twelve Mile Limit as a venue. The impromptu gathering drew about 20 audience members – with myriad reactions to the production, and the outdoor patio was an ideal setting for an open discussion.
Now, the recently itinerant Opera on Tap program will find a new Southshore home at Twelve Mile Limit’s sister bar, The Domino, starting this fall, and dates for performances will be announced soon. Both Gowland and Newton are looking forward to presenting Opera on Tap. For Newton, it is a more approachable and accessible entry-point to opera, and is an easy addition for The Domino, which he categorizes as a “Bywater cocktail dive.” He and Gowland took over the building at 3044 St. Claude with a team of other co-owners in 2019 and re-imagined it as its present incarnation. The name itself is a conflation of tributes to the old-school table-top games that patrons frequently play on site, as well as Louisiana nods to Domino Sugar and to Fats Domino.
“We’re so excited to bring Opera on Tap back to New Orleans,” Gowland said. “I was a huge OOT enthusiast, and I think it’s absolutely incredible to consider the history of opera in New Orleans. At OOT, you can hear about the context of each aria and why it’s meaningful. It’s an opportunity to engage people who may not think opera is for them. This feels like a coming home.”
We look forward to a future of many Opera On Tap performances at The Domino. Thanks to Lelia and Cole for their support of this popular program, and we’ll see you again soon!