This annual DC event, which began in 2008, always has a genial, relaxed atmosphere to it. The sort of atmosphere that is rarely associated with opera. There’s nothing quite like watching sopranos sing their angst on a big screen in a baseball field to bring a touch of irreverence to the proceedings. And this air of levity is something opera could stand to be infused with. Operas were the rock concerts of their day. They were as popular among the working classes as they were among the courtly elite, and their audiences could be loud and rowdy and engaged with the performances. Not the stodgy women in long fur coats and men in tuxedos we envision today. So watching an opera while the people two blankets over have a conversation and children play frisbee in front of a giant tenor feels appropriate.
This year’s opera is Tosca. It was composed by Giacomo Puccini, who is best known for writing Madame Butterfly and La Boheme. It is his fifth opera and relates a story, as so many operas do, of betrayal, jealously, and hopeless passion. But, as with most operas, the plot is not the reason to come out for this event. Beautiful music, freed from the restrictions of a concert hall, should provide a draw to all ages.
The fourth annual Opera in the Outfield is Thursday, September 22nd at 7:30pm in the Nationals Park. The gates open at 5:30pm, but finding a seat or a swatch of field to lay a blanket in has yet to prove a problem.