Baseball and opera: two things that sound like they shouldn’t go together, but as Tulsa Opera aims to prove with the premiere of their baseball-themed Rigoletto in October, they may make a better match than you would think.
Since COVID-19 shut down all opera productions in the spring, Tulsa Opera will be the first opera company in the United States to perform a grand opera with live singers before a live audience. But the question remained: just how do you do that while also mitigating the risk to both performers and the audience?
The answer: to trade in the stage of the Tulsa PAC for the baseball diamond of ONEOK Field, and to update Rigoletto to match.
“With opera, we always have the ability to reimagine the way we produce the classics to highlight their relevance to our time and to a specific venue,” said Tobias Picker, Tulsa Opera’s artistic director, in an interview with Tulsa People. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
Verdi’s Rigoletto has been reimagined numerous times–set in New York’s Little Italy, Las Vegas, and even once, the Planet of the Apes–but never with the ins and outs of the baseball business taking center stage, as it were. But that’s just what Tulsa Opera is bringing to ONEOK Field, courtesy of director James Robinson.
The duke’s royal court is now The Duke’s baseball team. Court politics are replaced by the business aspects of baseball. Rigoletto, originally the court jester, is now the team mascot. Monterone, the count who puts a fatal curse on Rigoletto, is now the Duke’s baseball team owner, and Sparafucile, the murderer for hire, is now an umpire. Plus, each singer will be stationed on a base in order to maintain necessary social distancing, and giving each of them their own personal stage.
This is a historic performance for historic times. And the capacity of ONEOK Field means that, even with social distancing, many more Tulsans will be able to attend this first-of-its-kind event.
Don’t miss out on your chance to see opera history. Tickets start at just $25 and kids 12 and under are free.