San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Opera Singers Add Spice To Dinner at La Luz

Singing with your supper as opposed to singing for your supper is now an option for San José area residents, as operatic dining – a craze that has swept London, New York and Buenos Aires – finally arrives in town.

It is no longer just the food that hits the high notes at La Luz Restaurant, an exclusive wood-paneled eatery in the AltaHotel, on the old road between Escazú and Santa Ana, west of the capital. Now, soprano María Marta López and a host of elegantly dressed waiters glide among the tables, singing and acting.

The performance lasts from starter to dessert, and diners are invited to join in at the end, as song sheets are delivered to the tables and López turns conductor, encouraging the brave to stand and sing.

“This type of evening has been popular in other cities for some time now, and we believe it to be a first here. It’s a great way for people to enjoy opera and good food at the same time,” says Michael Caggiano, president of the AltaHotel and La Luz Restaurant.

“What’s impressive is that the opera singers aren’t just singing, they are also acting,” he adds. Caggiano says plans are to run Opera Café into December and, if it proves successful, keep it going into next year.

“After so much practicing, it’s great to hear so many people applauding my work,” López says. “Not only is it great opera, but also great food, and we hope it will be a winning combination.”

The gothic interior design of the hotel gives the lower-level dining room a decadent, vault-like feel, except for the large windows opening out over the Santa Ana hills, from which escape the soft notes of the live piano accompaniment.

As the Caesar salad is delivered, the love triangle involving sequin-clad López, tenor Joaquín Yglesias Luconi and mezzo-soprano Marcela Alfaro becomes apparent.

Thankfully, the main course choice facing diners – breast of chicken, homemade crab ravioli or corvina – is somewhat easier than that facing poor Yglesias, who is racked with indecision over the women in his life.

With her musical master’s degree from the University of Costa Rica and starring roles in operas performed in the United States, Egypt, Italy and throughout Latin America, López is a hard woman to refuse, however, and by the time the coconut flan arrives, Yglesias appears to have finally made up his mind. Or has he?

Opera Café at La Luz Restaurant includes the performance, a three-course dinner and a glass of champagne for $45, including taxes. The next event is set for Oct. 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. For reservations and information, call 2282-4160 or e-mail

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