Saturday, September 12, 2009

Opera In The Outfield

What a crowd!! Maybe 8,000 or more folks showed up at Nationals Park tonight for the 2nd Opera In The Outfield. A joint venture between The Washington National Opera and Our Washington Nationals--brought to you by Target Corporation. Having no idea what to expect for this live simulcast of "The Barber Of Seville" on Opening Night from The Kennedy Center--The African Queen and I were pleasantly surprised.

Center Field Plaza Gates opened at 5:30PM for the 7:00PM show start. Already lines had formed all the way down Half Street to the Metro Station and another east on N Street, SE circling around to 1st St. SE. Not expecting such a big crowd, organizers had to open up the first base side main concourse seating to give everyone a place to sit. The entire third base side of Nationals Park--lower bowl--from the visitors dugout to the left field foul pole was packed. The outfield grass, where Sohna and I sat was filled with a few thousand folks too. Not sure of the total crowd size, but we estimate, honestly, approaching 8,000, maybe more.

Folks, this was FREE. Didn't cost a penny to just walk into Nationals Park, sit down and watch the performance. And this was a good one. If you drove, parking was available in Garages B & C for $10.

Upon entering, everyone was handed a Free Gift--a Plastic Sports Water Bottle with Target Logos. Free raffle prizes included Washington National Opera Season Tickets and Party Suites to Washington Nationals games on South Capitol Street. The Mars Company handed out free M&M's, Starbursts and other candies. And basic concession stands were open along the 3rd base side main concourse.

Even hung out with Jen Corey, Miss DC 2009 for the Miss America Pageant. Of course, I had to wear the Red Curly "W" Cap. Couldn't be caught inside Nationals Park without wearing something Nats. What would Mr. Kasten say?

Sohna and I brought our own picnic dinner and she laid out the Red Curly "W" Blanket on the outfield grass--near second base--sort of where Ronnie Belliard used to always play infield--not on the dirt. We then sat down and enjoyed the performance. Loved the opening surprise of Team President Stan Kasten making a camero appearance live from The Kennedy Center with Washington National Opera President Kenneth Feinberg. And really enjoyed the unexpected Curtain Call at the very conclusion of the performance--when the entire Cast & Crew from "The Barber Of Seville" paraded out on stage in Foggy Bottom wearing Red Curly "W" Baseball Caps. A moment that brought a Standing Ovation from those on hand at Nationals Park.

Good stuff all the way around, including a tremendous performance by Lawrence Brownlee who plays "Count Almaviva". What a voice!! That man stole the show, just like he did this past Wednesday night at Nationals Park when he gave arguably the finest rendition of The National Anthem ever heard at a Washington Nationals home game. Really impressive, and wonderful for The African Queen and I to experience Nationals Park in a different setting. A huge Arts & Humanities Crowd that certainly went home happy tonight from South Capitol Street having enjoyed a fine live performance of "The Barber Of Seville" from The Kennedy Center on our ballpark's HDTV Screen.

The African Queen and I really enjoyed the entire experience tremendously. A great evening to lounge on the outfield grass at Nationals Park and enjoy the opera. No question about it, Opera In The Outfield was worth attending.

PS--The United States Air Force Band played each U.S. Military Services' Fight Song before the presentation began. And the HDTV part of the program started with a special cartoon. The well known Bugs Bunny rendition of "The Barber Of Seville" called "Rabbit of Seville" with Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs.

And in case you were wondering--subtitles were placed on the bottom of the screen at times during the performance to help everyone follow the storyline of the Opera.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


yazzy1956 said...

The Post today said there were 19,000 people in attendance. We left at "half-time" because we had a baby sitter, but I hear Figaro pulled it out in the bottom of the ninth!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Yazzy1956-yeah we saw that story in The Post and The Times but if the ballpark only holds 41,000 and even counting those on the field sitting, Nationals Park maybe was a 1/4 or more full.

Section 222 said...

Great pictures and write up. Glad you did this.

As for attendance, I'm pretty sure that they were counting attendance at the turnstiles, so I would tend to believe the estimate in the news stories. Seats on the third base line and all the way down to the seats behind the left field wall were very full. Some sections on the first base line had alot of people too. And I think the people on the field would have easily filled the rest of the lower bowl (the Presidents/Diamond Club, and down the right field line.) So that's pretty much the whole lower bowl, and the lower deck seats approximate 22,000 according to this estimate:

So that makes the 19,000 figure pretty believable.