Get your Cracker Jack now, because "Barber" is going to the ballpark. The Washington National Opera announced Monday that for the second straight year, the company's opening-night performance -- this year, "The Barber of Seville" on Sept. 12 -- will be simulcast live at Nationals Park, free of charge.
Last year's simulcast of "La Traviata," the first such broadcast at the stadium, was planned within a matter of weeks and drew about 15,000 people. The stadium offers obvious advantages over the Mall (where the company broadcast three previous operas): a built-in screen, optional stadium seating in addition to picnic blankets on the playing field and, of course, concessions. Planning for this year's simulcast began virtually as soon as last year's event was over.
Planning, in this context, means simply seeking funding in straitened economic times for an event that last year cost about $300,000. WNO has assembled a colorful patchwork of sponsors, many donating services rather than money: Target, the Mars Corp., the Washington Nationals, WMATA and MarcParc Valet, ABC 7/NewsChannel 8 and WETA radio (90.9 FM).