San Diego Opera Stages More Outdoor Events
'One Amazing Night' and 'The Barber of Seville' coming at end of month
"The Rabbit of Seville" (1950)
"La Boheme" (directed by Franco Zeffirelli, 1965)
"Il Barbiere di Siviglia" (1974)
The ability to hold in-person events is rapidly moving forward but San Diego Opera has a long lead time for planning its events. General Director David Bennett addressed what these changes mean for the company and about its events scheduled for the end of this month.
Live concerts with certain restrictions will be returning but San Diego Opera, which has long lead times for staging events, can't take advantage of those changes just yet.
"Opera has a bit of a long time horizon booking artists and everything, we have to plan fairly far into the future," Bennett said. "What we have starting today with rehearsals was planned quite a while ago. But things are changing. So what it's making us do is look at next season with a more clear open eye. We just had our budget approved by the board and we will be returning to theaters next season. When we actually make a step back inside of a theater may change a little bit based upon the recent changes and also more importantly, how many people are allowed back in theaters. That's the real big unknown. But things that are looking hopeful now."
But opera is expensive to produce and if attendance is capped at 25%, or even 50%, it may still be financially challenging to return to its Civic Theatre home base.
The other concern and still unknown aspect of returning to live, in-person events is exactly what that will entail.
"Part of the directive that was released last week is that there is under the guidelines that they are now stating, there is a larger number of an audience that will be allowed if you can prove vaccination as well as negative test within seven days prior to the performance. Now, will that change? Who knows? But that's the directive right now. And who's going to be responsible for that? Will the venue? We don't own any of our venues. Will it be a combination of the venue and the producer like us as the opera? Will there be legal challenges to that? Does that put a responsibility on us that we really shouldn't be placed in that role? Who knows anyway? But the encouraging news is that it's all being dealt with right now and it looks like there are some answers coming?" Bennett explained.
But San Diego Opera's Spring Season has already been planned and will begin on Saturday, April 24 with One Amazing Night, its annual concert with the San Diego Symphony. This year the concert is titled "When I See Your Face Again" and it looks to unmasking the music of notorious pandemics and to great works inspired by, and composed in response to, cataclysmic moments in history such as the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and the HIV Crisis of the 1980s.
The concert features guest performers Angelina Réaux, Allison Spratt Pearce and James Newcomb along with members of San Diego Opera's own talented Chorus.
Then on April 25, the company will kick off four performances of "The Barber of Seville." Inspired by the success of its drive-in performances of "La Bohème" in the October, which marked a return to live, in-person, opera to San Diego, the company will be once again mounting a drive-in production at Pechanga Arena San Diego's parking lot.
If One Amazing Night has a somewhat serious tone, "The Barber of Seville" will follow up with some entertaining fun.
"Well, we're taking a cue from the costumes that we're using from this production, which was set in the late '60s, early '70s," Bennett said. "And so, if we think of that world, our [director] Ketura Stickan just told the cast in a meeting that we had earlier to sort of think of television during that era. And if we think of that, the strongest television moment she talked about was 'Laugh-In,' particularly the cocktail hour. So I think that world, also the world of the Beatles movies, of The Monkees, zany, lots of dancing, lots of color and funny. 'The Barber of Seville' is a comedy at its heart. And so if it's not funny, it's not fun. So this is going to be a funny, fun, zany, colorful 'Barber.'"
Previous drive-in presentations have sold out. Guests are allowed to bring as many passengers as their car has seatbelts. San Diego Opera recommends guests only attend the opera with people they have already been quarantining with. All guests are required to watch the opera from their vehicle and wear face coverings if they briefly need to leave their vehicle to use the restroom facilities. Patrons may bring in food and drink as there are no concessions for sale. The non-subscriber tickets for One Amazing Night begin at $100 with a limited number of premium parking spaces at $150. Tickets for "The Barber of Seville" begin at $200 per car with a limited number of premium parking spaces at $300.