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Play 'Barber!' Washington National Opera offers free simulcast at Nationals Park

The popularity of live simulcasts is the opera story of the decade. Although the most successful and plentiful examples of this phenomenon are the HD transmissions by the Metropolitan Opera to movie theaters all over the U.S. and beyond, there have been other remarkable cases of bringing the art form to the masses in various locales, including athletic stadiums.

Washington National Opera, an early leader in this field, will offer a simulcast Sept. 12 at Nationals Park of Rossini's comic gem The Barber of Seville, which WNO general director Placido Domingo calls "undoubtedly one of the very best operas for young people, families and first-time opera-goers." This is the second annual such presentation at the ballpark; the company has previously beamed live performances from the Kennedy Center Opera House to the National Mall, as well as dozens of academic campuses around the country.

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The Barber performance, which opens WNO's 2009-2010 season, features the terrific ...

tenor Lawrence Brownlee (he just might be America's answer to Juan Diego Florez) as Almaviva -- I've included a sampling of his talent at the end of this posting, a performance of the demanding, often omitted tenor aria from the original finale of the

Barber

. The cast also includes Simone Alberghini as Figaro and Silvia Tro Santafé as Rosina. The opera will be transmitted to the 4,811-sq. in. HD scoreboard at Nationals Park.

(Incidentally, a week after WNO says "Play Barber!" the San Francisco Opera will beam a simulcast of Verdi's Il trovatore to the Giants' ballpark. Now there's an opera that could really use an umpire.)

Nationals Park will open at 5:30 Sept. 12 with what WNO is calling "pre-game" activities; the Barber starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free. You can even get free admission in the "VIP seating sections" simply by making advance reservations.

PHOTO BY KEN HOWARD OF LAWRENCE BROWNLEE IN 2007 METROPOLITAN OPERA PRODUCTION OF 'THE BARBER OF SEVILLE' COURTESY OF LAWRENCEBROWNLEE.COM

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