Last year, Washington National Opera brought “Opera in the Outfield” to Nationals Park. This time, the event moves to Audi Field for “Opera on the Field” this Sunday at 4 p.m.
“This is our 17th year doing this, but this is our first time at Audi Field,” Washington National Opera General Director Timothy O’Leary told WTOP. “The idea is that we broadcast a free performance of an opera. People can sit on the grass or in the stands and you can watch the opera while eating your popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.”
The WNO will screen its recent Kennedy Center performance of “Carmen,” which is performed in the original French with English captions on the screen.
“Audi Field is a state-of-the-art facility and it’s got a beautiful, huge Jumbotron,” O’Leary said. “We broadcast the opera on the scoreboard, so everyone’s got a great view of it.”
The event is free, but you must register in advance to obtain a QR code to scan upon entry. Parking is limited, so public transportation like Metro or ride-share is encouraged.
“Opera is all about being in a crowd and enjoying, just like it is at a sporting event,” O’Leary said. “There’s this idea of what we’ve all missed during the years of pandemic disruptions that’s called ‘collective effervescence,’ when people gather in a crowd and they’re all cheering for the same thing — that’s the fun of doing this in a sports venue.”
He also hopes the setting wins over new opera fans who may be accustomed to attending sports stadiums but maybe haven’t been to the Kennedy Center.
“People think of opera as overly formal or almost elitist, but when you do it in a sports stadium, it brings it down to the origin of opera, which is that it’s fun … We can offer it to thousands of people for free in a really fun and welcoming environment. Every year, thousands of people come to ‘Opera on the Field’ and experience opera for the first time.”