Parties: SF Opera In The Wild And On The Big Screen

By Catherine Bigelow

Drive-in Performance Of The Barber Of Seville

Cause: Reimagined staging from the opera’s delayed 2020–21 season
Attendees: 6,300
Impact: Shutdown aside, this show did go on

In late April, the San Francisco Opera packed up its sets, costumes, musicians and singers, taking its show on the road and across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Center in San Rafael for dynamic drive-in performances of Rossini’s comic masterpiece, The Barber of Seville.
This was the opera’s first live performance since November 2019 and our attendant COVID lockdown. Directed by Matthew Ozawa, this Barber was a bold new production starring the Opera orchestra and the San Francisco Adler Fellows, all of whom knocked it out of the park April 23 to May 15 during 11 drive-in performances for delighted season ticket holders and new subscribers.

The custom-built stage (120 feet wide and 40 feet high), set along the center’s tranquil lagoon, featured 26-foot video walls and a network of cameras, accompanied by a video simulcast and FM signal, allowing all patrons a driver’s seat to the action.

“There are moments in life when nothing says it as clearly as music. And this is one of those moments,” enthused S.F. Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock, on his Backstage opera website blog. “It’s time to find release and joy in one of the most exuberant operas ever written! I believe this is one of those moments that will be talked about for years to come — the moment opera came back to life.”

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