The Stadium glows in the embrace of the fading afternoon Sun. The infield is as smooth and manicured as a billiard table. A cooling breeze floats in from the Potomac, wafting over the gorgeous green grasses of left field. Slowly, the massive light towers flicker ablaze. The fans, thrilled by what has gone on so far, raise their voices to cheer their favorites.
What a night — for opera.
Yes, on September 24, while Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper and company play out the season in Pittsburgh, Nationals Stadium will once again become home away from home for the Washington National Opera. And what the fans will be cheering about will not be Trey Turner stealing three bases or Daniel Murphy driving in two with a double to right, but the antic shenanigans of Figaro (Ryan McKinney), as he thwarts the buffoonish schemes of Count Almaviva (Joshua Hopkins) and wins the love of (spoiler alert) Susanna (Lisette Oropisa).
Mike Rizzo put together the Nationals team. But The Marriage of Figaro was written by Mozart. And this is Opera in the Outfield.
Gates open at 5, with pre-opera performances by vocal students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Opera Program and dance students from Savoy Elementary School, among other artists. Early festivities will also include a screening of the famed Warner brothers cartoon, What’s Opera, Doc, with Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd as themselves.
Jacqueline Badger Mars of Mars Candy fame is a principal sponsor, and attendees will have an opportunity to meet M&M’s Chief Chocolate Officer, Ms. Brown. Kids will have the run of the playground and get to pal around with the living statue of Babe Ruth (I don’t know what that is) and various opera characters. There will be face-painting, a crafts table, and a chance to poke around the National Opera trunk.
Also: the Kennedy Center’s awarding plenty of prizes, including a chance for a walk-on role in WNO’s The Daughter of the Regiment; 4 tickets to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when it comes to the Kennedy Center this October; tickets to the Kennedy Center’s 19th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (Bill Murray’s getting it) and lots and lots of chocolate. Here’s where you register for prizes.
Admission is free (you can reserve seats for parties of ten or more by calling 202.416.8400).
The main event starts at 7:00 p.m., when the Marriage of Figaro will travel electronically from the lush confines of Washington National Opera to the multi-million dollar scoreboard of Washington Nationals Park. Patrons will see Figaro, whose promised marriage to the lovely Suzanna is thwarted — temporarily — by the clumsy efforts of his boss, Count Almaviva. Figaro turns that around quite nicely (think Bugs vs. Elmer).