Just like a band has groupies, so does Opera Theatre of the Rockies. In this case, they're better known as the Pikes Peak Opera League.

"They're our best friends forever - BFF," says Martile Rowland, founder and artistic director of the opera company. "They're our foundation. We can be corny and say 'the wind beneath our wings.'"

The league holds its second Art in the Garden fundraiser on Friday to benefit the group. The first was held in 2011.

The fundraiser includes hors d'oeuvres, wine, vocal performances and local art work for sale, including work by Jane Beeder, Leslie Doerr, Neal Carpenter, Mary Gorman, Reveille Kennedy and Dottie Lirette. The money raised will help support the opera's Vocal Arts Festival and Young Artists Intensive Training Program, a four-week, by-audition program presented in collaboration with the Colorado College Summer Music Festival.

Evan Lennon, a 13-year-old Eagleview Middle School student, and Deanna Cooper, a 13-year-old Holmes Middle School student, will perform at the event. They're both currently participating in the summer young artists program, which ends with a fully staged production of "The Sound of Music" Aug. 2-4 at Armstrong Hall.

"The two of us will go around the park singing musical theater songs a cappella," Lennon says. "It looked like fun, and a great learning experience to work with professionals. I've learned that you can work along pros and you're never too old to stop learning."

The two were approached by Rowland early in the program to perform at the fundraiser. "Just being with the opera theater, I can already tell, it's going to be such a great experience," Cooper says. She will play Louisa Von Trapp in the upcoming production.

Opera Theatre of the Rockies is southern Colorado's only professional opera company. It was founded by Rowland, an accomplished opera singer, in 1998, and its first production, "The Merry Widow," took to the Fine Arts Center's stage in 1999.

Founders of the Pikes Peak Opera League banded together to support and ensure the company's longevity. The league was founded in 2001 as a continuation of the Colorado Opera Festival Guild, created in 1979. The league supports and fundraises almost 100 percent for the theater, says Gloria Wendt, president of the league.

"We're trying to support opera theater so we have opera in the city," Wendt says. "Some people don't even know we have an opera in Colorado Springs. Why should they have to drive to Denver when we have a fantastic organization here?"Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270.

Art in the Garden

Who: By Pikes Peak Opera League to benefit Opera Theatre of the Rockies

When: 5-8 p.m. Friday

Where: Chapel of Our Saviour, 8 4th St.

Tickets: $25 ($10 is tax deductible); 495-1278, pikespeakoperaleague.org