From Development server
12 August 2020

Tulsa Opera to Present Semi-Staged In-Person Performances of Rigoletto at Baseball Stadium to Open 2020-21 Season

TULSA OPERA announced today that it will open its 2020-21 season on October 9 with a live semi-staged performance of Rigoletto that will be performed for an in-person, socially-distanced audience at Oneok Field Baseball Stadium, the home field for the minor-league Tulsa Drillers.

Director James Robinson, who last season directed an acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess to open the Metropolitan Opera season, will make his Tulsa Opera debut staging a baseball-themed production that will find the singers arranged more than six-feet apart, with each performer taking a position on one of the bases or the pitcher’s mound. The performance will feature Sarah Coburn as Gilda, Joshua Wheeker as the Duke, Morris Robinson as Sparafucile, Allegra De Vita as Maddalena and Todd Thomas as Rigoletto. 

The performance will mark one of the first live, staged operas to be presented in the United States since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought live performances by international opera companies to a virtual standstill since March. Oneok Field, which normally hosts minor-league baseball games, will be used to accommodate some 2,700 audience members for the Rigoletto performance, and the crowds will be socially distanced throughout the park. Audience members will be seated every-other row, with three seats separating each person or family, and masks will be required at all times. Likewise the performers will undergo symptom and exposure screenings at the beginning of each day that they are involved in the production. The reduced orchestra, for which players will be socially distanced, will be comprised of strings and piano. 

“Challenging times call for creative solutions,” said Tulsa Opera general director and CEO Ken McConnell said in a statement issued today. “As difficult as it’s proving for orchestras to return to the concert hall, those of us in the opera world must contend with the fact that the core of our art form—singing—has become one of the most complex activities to undertake safely as our society tries to contain COVID-19. We have nevertheless found a way to open the season safely and on schedule, while also offering an utterly unique operatic experience, and we are delighted to be partnering with ONEOK Field and the Tulsa Drillers Management as we present this first opera of our 2020–21 season.”

“Our new ‘baseball’ Rigoletto taps into the fascinating, but little-known history of the cultural intersection between baseball and opera in the USA,” said Tulsa Opera’s artistic director and composer Tobias Picker. “An organic concept, this Rigoletto takes the ‘socially distanced’ baseball diamond as its stage—positioning the singers at different bases and baseball positions throughout the opera. We cordially invite all Tulsa baseball fans to come see an opera on the Tulsa Drillers’ home turf. Tulsa Opera is thrilled that James Robinson has accepted our invitation to make his Tulsa Opera debut directing his hometown opera company at this most extreme and challenging time in the history of American opera.”

Tickets to the performances are $25 for general admission, $15 for students and $50 for a family of five. spacer

More information can be found at TulsaOpera.com.

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