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Why Opera In The Ballpark Is A Brilliant Idea

June 8, 2009

San Francisco Opera mounted its annual simulcast of an opera production on Friday evening at AT&T ballpark. This year's event, which broadcast the company's production of Tosca starring Adrianne Pieczonka, Carlo Ventre and Lado Ataneli not only to patrons at the War Memorial opera house, but also to tens of thousands of people sitting under the stars at the San Francisco Giants' home across town, hit a home run as squarely as last year's production of Lucia di Lammermoor, starring Nathalie Dessay.

Here's a link to my description of the 2008 experience.

This year, I wish to add that I can't think of a better way to introduce large numbers of people to opera than this. Here's why:

1. The event is free. Anyone can attend.

2. The event is slickly and warmly managed with a legion of opera helpers clad in special "Opera at the Ballpark" baseball shirts on hand to answer questions and guide people to where they want to go.

3. You can bring a picnic or buy concessions at the park and eat and drink all the way through the performance.

4. If you have to get up to use to bathroom or need to leave for any other reason, you don't risk disturbing anyone else to any great degree.

5. You can wear what you like (though warm clothes are pretty necessary as it gets quite cold by the time intermission comes along.)

5. There's plenty of room for kids to run around.

6. The opera supplies free printed plot synopses and information about the cast and main production personnel. Also, the plot details are screened just before the start of the first and second half of the opera.

6. Video presentations before the opera begins and during intermission provide interesting information about many different facets of the opera, eg interviews with the head of the wig and costume shops, as well as an overview of productions past and present.

7. The opera partners with local classical music radio station, KDFC, to provide live commentary as the event unfolds. This year's commentators weren't completely on top of their game. But hopefully the use of a teleprompter will help to make things flow better next year.

8. Finally, the experience of sitting in the park as night falls watching a great opera performed by some of the world's most engaging opera artists with around twenty thousand other people is absolutely unrivaled. It's much more fun, in my opinion, than sitting in the opera house itself.

I can't wait for September 19 when SF opera presents a live screening of Verdi's Il Trovatore at the home of the Giants.

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