Opera in the Outfield
If you thought nothing could be farther from a baseball field than an opera house, the majority of the time you would be right. But this time you are wrong because on September 19 at 2 p.m., Nationals Park will host its third “Opera in the Outfield,” when Verdi’s A Masked Ball is simulcast right here, live on one of America’s largest HD screens free for everyone to watch.
In fact, the opera’s female lead, soprano Tamara Wilson, thinks any baseball fan would enjoy the show, even if you’ve never been to an opera before. “Think of it this way. If you’ve never been to a baseball game, you wouldn’t know an RBI from a base hit. But you’d learn,” she said. “Even if you don’t know anything, you’re going to go to a game, you’re going to get the beer and peanuts and you’re going to be happy just watching because it’s a fun time. In opera, people feel afraid if you don’t know everything…There’s a sense of intimidation about it. But it’s the same thing. If you go once or twice, you’ll start to feel at ease a bit and just enjoy what’s happening on stage.”
And if you thought the opera is a place for only the uppity, elderly, or rich, again, you’re wrong–this post was written to turn conventional wisdom on its head. This event is completely free and offers an enjoyable ballpark atmosphere, complete with concessions, kid-friendly activities and prizes all while you watch the opera. “Pre-game” and intermission activities include a T-shirt toss, photo-ops with Screech and a picnic contest, while giveaways include opera ticket packages, baseball tickets and Target gift cards.
New this year, the “Take Me Out to the Opera” Songwriting Contest offers entrants a chance to create opera-themed lyrics to the popular baseball song. Winners will be announced during the “Seventh Aria Stretch,” with the top place winner’s song performed live by a crowd of thousands of opera-going fans.
“Opera in the Outfield” is part of the Washington National Opera’s Access to Opera initiative, which brings free and low-cost opera to new audiences through discount tickets, public school programs and adult enrichment.
“I think opera is accessible in general, but there’s a stigma to it,” said Wilson, who didn’t attend her first opera until college but now stars in them. She says she was absolutely “mesmerized” by her first opera “because there’s something so dramatic about the music and then having these singers without microphones belt their hearts out.”
This particular opera tells the powerful story of love, revenge and murder. A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) centers on the true story of the murder of 18th-century Swedish King Gustavas III, who falls for the wife of his best friend, Count Anckarstrom. Their forbidden love proves fatal when the Count discovers the King’s secret passion and joins a conspiracy to murder him during the court’s grand masked ball. The opera is performed in Italian with English subtitles projected on the National’s scoreboard.
If you like baseball, you just might enjoy this opera too. “If you haven’t been to an opera before, I say, try it, and then make your own opinion,” Wilson said.
For more details, including how to enter the “Take Me Out to the Opera” Songwriting Contest, or to reserve seating for this FREE event, just click HERE.