The fourth annual Zombie Opera concert is expected to be a delightfully gory extravaganza that will fill Hamilton Park in Jersey City with music, dancing, and more.
“We’re just excited for the neighborhood to come out and party with us again,” said Catriona Rubenis-Stevens, co-founder of the event that she calls "a little quirky and out of the box." "The Zombie Opera is unique because it allows people to explore something they might never see."
It all began during the pandemic-plagued summer of 2020 when Zombie Opera founders opera singer Molly Dunn and filmmaker Rubenis-Stevens began having entertainment-filled stoop parties with Jersey Avenue neighbors. After three months of the parties, they decided to “go big for Halloween,” marking the beginning of the ever-growing Zombie Opera tradition.
Fittingly called Maskquerade, the first Zombie Opera was a success. “We did not expect the crowd,” said Rubenis-Stevens, saying that about 1,500 showed up for the free concert, which moved last year from the street where it all began to Hamilton Square.
The Hamilton Park Neighborhood Association, HPNA, came on board, and the park was transformed into a circus tent in 2022. Among the performers were six opera singers and a 30-person choir with local dancers.
This year’s event will be bigger than ever. Food vendors and face painters will begin activities at 4 p.m. Opera singers will perform, and a concert will occur between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., followed by an 80’s prom. The cast is made up of six highly-acclaimed opera singers, including former NFL defensive end for the Browns and Ravens, Ta’u Pupu’a, tenor; Yohji Daquio, soprano; co-founder Molly Dunn, soprano; Kofi Hayford, bass; Rachelle Pike, mezzo-soprano; and Eliam Ramos, bass-baritone. They will perform repertoire from operas including Faust, La Traviata, La Boheme, Carmen, Rigoletto, and more.
The evening will also feature members of TerpsiKord, an NYC-based orchestra, and a Zombie Chorus made up of North River Sing members, students from New Jersey City University, and the local community.
About 3,000 people are expected to attend. “Every year, it gets more and more unique and special,” said Rubenis-Stevens. Guests are advised to bring chairs and are strongly encouraged to dress up in 80s prom costumes which could be a twist on the 80s prom high school look, running the gamut from jocks to nerds, but all being gory. A prom photo booth will be set up to reward their efforts, adding to the fun.
Public funds from the Jersey City Arts and Culture Trust Fund support the Zombie Opera.
Halloween Family Bash
October 31st at Newark Ave Pedestrian Plaza, Jersey City
The Jersey City Downtown Special Improvement District presents the annual Halloween Family Bash on October 31, from 3-8 p.m., at the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall & Plaza. There will be games, a corn maze, pumpkins, face painting, a bouncy house, candy, and more. The free event is rain or shine.