Classical Gas: A night at the opera, corona style
Following a performance to an audience full of plants in a Barcelona opera house, opera companies in Germany, the UK and the United States are turning to drive-in venues for their opportunity to restart business again.
Dusseldorf’s D.Live, a pioneer of the drive-in concert space, hosted its first-ever drive-in opera last week, with more than 70 performers taking to the 60 metre-wide stage at its Autokino Düsseldorf.
The evening saw the Deutsche Oper am Rhein (German Opera on the Rhine) perform excerpts from popular operas such as Carmen, The Barber of Seville, La Traviata and Nabucco, along with the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra to a sold-out, 500-carpacity crowd. Almost 2,000 spectators went to the event, with up to five people able to attend on a €50, one car ticket.
The performance was shown on the 400-square-metre screen with the audio transmitted to car radios via VHF (very high frequency) signals.
The opera is the latest in a long line of D.Live drive-ins, which have included live shows, DJ ‘club nights’, stand-up comedy routines, circus shows, weddings, a first communion and a pole vaulting competition, in addition to the traditional film nights.
“This gala by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein at the Autokino Düsseldorf was the first major opera event to be staged after a three-month break,” says D.Live CEO, Michael Brill. “International soloists, the opera choir and a big symphony orchestra on the huge cinema stage ensured a fabulous evening with plenty of spine-tingling moments.”
Opera companies in Germany, the UK and the United States are turning to drive-in venues for their opportunity to restart business again
Operas are set to arrive at drive-in venues elsewhere, too. A fully staged production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca will take place in front of 600 cars in the grounds of former IBM complex Tech City in New York as part of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice on 29 August.
The English National Opera (ENO) also recently announced a drive-in series, Drive and Live, which will see 90-minute versions of Puccini’s La bohème performed live to a 300-carpacity audience at Alexandra Palace Park in London.
The ENO will broadcast sound to cars via bluetooth and states it is exploring options for hiring static vehicles, so those without cars could also attend. The company also aims to set up socially distanced spaces for motorbikes and bicycles.
The opera will run from 19 to 27 September, with tickets costing £100 per car (four people maximum per vehicle). Fans can register their interest here.
The ENO has also announced plans for a series of socially distanced, scaled down shows at the 2,359-seat London Coliseum, following the UK government’s halving of the former two-metre distancing rule.
The new one-metre rule means the venue could operate at 48% of full capacity, rather than 20%, says ENO chief executive Stuart Murphy, with a two-seat, one-row gap between audience members.
Concert giant Live Nation is another to get involved in the drive-in live event scene, recently announcing drive-in concert series in the UK, featuring Dizzee Rascal, Gary Numan, Beverley Knight, the Streets and Kaiser Chiefs, and the United States, with acts such as Brad Paisley, Nelly, Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi.