MN Opera Combines Two Favorite Pastimes with Upcoming Event, Opera in the Outfield
To say that 2020 has been a year full of surprises might just be the understatement of the century. With theaters closed and people stuck at home, opera as we know it has ostensibly been put on an indefinite pause. But thanks to some careful planning and meticulous organizing, 2020 will reveal yet another surprise with an unlikely collaboration that will combine two classic pastimes: baseball and opera.
In partnership with CHS Field in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota Opera presents Opera in the Outfield, a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience that puts a unique twist on favorites new and old in a safe, physically distanced atmosphere.
“CHS Field has figured out how to organize and host events in a safe way given the current state of things,” said Karen Quisenberry, Vice President of Production at MN Opera. “They’ve worked with the MN Department of Health and are taking a lot of precautions.”
Quisenberry has worked closely with the staff at CHS Field to help plan how to pull off a safe and responsible event, along with Stage Director David Radamés Toro who is working on organizing the repertoire and content leading up to the event.
Opera in the Outfield will feature arias from classics like La Traviata, The Marriage of Figaro, and Romeo & Juliet, along with MN Opera favorites like Don Pasquale and Carmen. Other repertoire included in the event comes from Blue, which highlights racial inequality as a modern societal issue that MN Opera unfortunately had to postpone from its 2020-2021 season, and The Fix, a recent part of MN Opera’s New Works Initiative that further brings the event’s baseball theme to life.
The event will largely feature a pre-edited video with excerpts from past productions, as well as newly recorded footage of performers and some live performance elements that will help bring the event to life. This will be MN Opera’s first in-person event since canceling the remainder of its 2019-2020 season due to COVID-19 following Jonathan Dove’s Flight in late January and early February.
David Radamés Toro is working closely with video designer David Murakami to create something familiar for the opera audience yet entirely unique in and of itself.
“We are trying to make sure that it’s not just a Resident Artist concert of the hits,” said Toro. “It’s more of a community event to bring together people from Minnesota in a smart and safe way.”
In producing the video experience, Toro said their aim for part of it is to create something visually similar to Fantasia in terms of colors, shapes and feel, which will then be synced to music.
“Some parts will have a comic book feel, some will be a little more abstract,” he said. “Our process so far has been doing a lot of homework individually and then coming together virtually to figure it all out.”
Toro just recently finished producing a virtual experience of The Magic Flute under similar circumstances for San Diego Opera, a process with which he’s continuing to acquaint himself in the age of the new abnormal. Toro and Murakami will be coaching singers via Zoom, ensuring recordings have a unified approach, look and feel.
“The program will mostly be a video experience, along with some enhanced projections around the jumbotron area on the outfield wall,” said Quisenberry. “And we’re not going to shy away from the fact that we’re performing in a ballpark.”
For the event, CHS Field will be sectioned off in four different areas not exceeding 250 guests in each area, and attendees will be asked to enter through their respective gates. Opera in the Outfield will take place at 7:30pm on Thursday, September 24 and Saturday, September 26. It will then be available on-demand from September 27–October 11. Purchase in-person tickets or digital access here.