The Classical Beat

Opera will be the main course at this Affare

Updated: 2013-08-11T02:04:37Z


Special to The Star

Opera and food have a long and glorious association. Gioacchino Rossini was a well-known gourmand for whose refined tastebuds the great chef Marie-Antoine Careme created Tournedos Rossini.

Over the years, many dishes have been named in honor of opera stars, like Pasta in Caruso Sauce and the cafeteria favorite, chicken tetrazzini.

A Kansas City operatic duo, Ben Gulley and Nathan Granner, are carrying on the food/opera tradition and giving it a high-tech, theatrical twist. They’ll present another of their popular Romantic Affare concerts at Affare, a German restaurant in the Crossroads Arts District, on Aug. 19. The theme of the dinner is Twenty-four, referring to the 24 art songs, many dating to the baroque era, that every aspiring opera singer learns.

Described as a “Multi-Course Performance: A Collaboration of Classical Music, Custom Cuisine and Projective Visual Art,” the five-course meal and concert promise to engage all the senses. Affare’s owner and chef, Martin Heuser, will create dishes inspired by the songs while “projective art” created by D. Nate Bogert, José Faus and Matt Bell will provide visual interest.

“Not only are we working with a top chef, but we’re also working with new media, projective artists creating progressive or post-modern stuff,” Granner said. “Nate has a lot of footage that he uses and interprets live. He’s mixing video live to what we’re doing. José Faus is actually painting a large-scale painting on one of the walls of Affare and Nate is going to be videoing José. Then, on a delay, he’s going to be projecting the video of José on to José. It’s going to be insane.”

The songs will be familiar to every aspiring singer. While many of the songs can be capably performed by beginners, others are fiendishly difficult and can only be pulled off by true virtuosos.

“There’s a funny, yellow book published by Schirmer that every starting singer, especially those who study classical music, gets called ‘Twenty-four Italian Songs and Arias,’” Gulley said. “The goal for this performance is to start where we did in high school and undergrad, and by the end of the program we take it all the way to the hardest repertoire that the operatic canon can throw at a tenor.

“The same thing’s happening with the chef. He’s starting with dishes that he began making and won awards with as an apprentice, but by the end of the night he’s making dishes that just blow your mind with how hard they are and how complex the flavor layers are.”

The songs are by the likes of Giacomo Puccini, Georges Bizet and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, he said, and Heuser plans to match dishes to the music.

“For example,” Gulley said, “one song is about a young prince who has run away and is sitting by the fireside with a shepherd boy who has all of his lambs around him. So for that, the chef will make a delicious lamb dish.”

Gulley and Granner see this dinner as a way of creating fresh interest in the art song. The pauses between courses give the audience time to talk about the music.

“Rather than having to wait until the end of the concert,” Granner said, “it’s very immediate.”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Aug. 19

WHERE: Affare German Restaurant, 1911 Main St.

COST: $100 to $250

INFO: or 913-730-8669


The Midwest Chamber Ensemble will offer its third annual ChoralFest at 7:30 p.m. today at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 9100 Mission Road, Prairie Village. The group, led by its music director, Steve Lewis, will perform Franz Schubert’s Mass in G and Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Te Deum.” Also on the program is a big nonchoral work, Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” with concertmaster Zsolt Eder as soloist.

COST: $15


Cathedral summer

A gentle summer breeze will be blowing through Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral this afternoon. The Kansas City Chamber Winds led by Deborah Freedman will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s lovely Serenade No. 10. The concert is part of the Summer Music at the Cathedrals series.

WHEN: 2 p.m. today

WHERE: Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St.

COST: $10


Tournedos Rossini

In case you were wondering, Tournedos Rossini is a filet mignon (tournedos) that’s been pan-fried in butter, placed on toasted bread and topped with a lightly fried, whole foie gras. The final flourish is a sprinkling of shaved black truffles and a drizzle of madeira demi-glace. Make some for your family tonight.

Patrick Neas is program director for To reach him, send email to

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