Daniel Vineyard’s lands Indianapolis Opera’s Lobster Palooza


Indianapolis Opera and Daniel’s Family Vineyard & Winery seemed like a perfect match.

“Wine is a very strongly associated craft with opera,” Indianapolis Opera General Director David Starkey said. “(Daniel’s Vineyard) really prescribed to an amazing craftsmanship and the desire to be dedicated to their neighbors. They’ve always explored a lot with music and cultural events. It just seemed to be the right avenue to explore.”

The 11th annual Lobster Palooza will be held at Daniel’s Vineyard in McCordsville from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 8. Current Publishing is serving as a media sponsor. National Bank of Indianapolis, Ellinger Riggs Insurance and Merrill Lynch also are sponsors.

“That’s a big change for us because historically, Lobster Palooza has been held at Basile Opera Center (in Indianapolis),” Starkey said.

The 2020 event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starkey said the opera company had to merge Lobster Palooza and Opera Ball into a virtual fundraiser with live singers.

“We just felt it was time to think of the next generation of the event after 10 years,” Starkey said. “We thought, what is the next decade going to be like for this fundraiser? Many people equate this to being one of the most unique, fun-filled events of that size. For this kind of size, 200 to 300 people, this has been consistently revered as the event. There is a new generation of opera fans, board members and donors, and they love this event. The event has brought it more of a younger, middle-aged crowd. This is real Maine lobster, and (we) have a special boiler expert we bring in from out of town to boil the lobster. We’re not getting frozen lobsters from the grocery store. This is the real deal. A Cut Above Catering has been the caterer and the chef of choice for many years of this event.

“So, we’re taking a very successful event and we are putting it at one of the best developing venues in our region. It’s a win-win.”

The event will feature singers Daniel Narducci and Marci Jackson, who were leads in Indianapolis Opera’s 2019 production of “Camelot.”

The Dean Martini Band will perform between 7 and 9 p.m.

“That’s a new wrinkle. We haven’t had a band for years,” said Starkey, a McCordsville resident. “We’re going to have the opera singers sing with the band. There is a great space for people to dance.”

In addition to signature drinks and wine from Daniel’s Vineyard, Tito’s, Sun King and Still Moon products will be served.

A lobster event near Geist Reservoir seemed to be a logical match as well, Starkey said.

Starkey said the move also was generated by a motivation to develop new partnerships.

“Through a relationship we have with Visit Indy, a board member of ours, Janet Arnold, who works for Visit Indy, brought this recommendation to us,” Starkey said.

Starkey said many members already were aware of Daniel’s Vineyard.

“So, the learning curve was pretty short,” Starkey said. “The conversation started in late winter. We were just thrilled with their desire to expand and connect in the arts.”

The cocktail hour is at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets are $175 per person, and a table of eight is $1,400. A $100 portion of the ticket price is tax deductible.

For more, indyopera.org/lobsterpalooza.html.