Concert halls and venues across the country are closed due to coronavirus restrictions, but some organizations are adapting to make good on the old saying that the show must go on.
Maryland Opera announced today that the company is heading outdoors for a three-concert series called “Arias Alfresco.”
“The world is changing, and art must change and adapt as well,” said Maryland Opera Artistic Director James Harp. “We believe in this incredible art form, which has reached people for centuries and will continue to do so in these challenging times. If you can’t come to the opera house, the opera house will come to you.”
The group is taking extra precautions to make sure audiences are following health guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
All audience members are required to wear face coverings and sit six feet away from each other–Harp said a staffer will employ a pole to make sure guests are adequately spaced.
The first row of seating will be about 20 feet from the singers as a precaution against the respiratory droplets that spread the coronavirus.
Performers will not be masked, but since arias are solo performances, there’s no risk they will give the disease to each other during the concerts, Harp said.
Admission to all three concerts is free, but a ticket is required for entry. By registering for tickets, guests acknowledge the risk of COVID-19 in public spaces.
Harp said all three venues were picked because they have ample room outdoors, including large open green spaces. Health experts have said outdoor activities are generally lower risk for spreading the disease, so long as people adhere to distancing and mask protocols.
“Certainly with all of these venues there’s enough room where we hope everyone will feel comfortable coming out,” he said.
The series kicks off at Boordy Vineyards in Hydes on Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m. The next two shows will be held outside of churches. On Saturday, Aug. 8, the group heads to the Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier in Hunt Valley. And on Saturday, Aug. 29, singers will perform outside The Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore.
While the program is still being finalized, Harp said the selections include “Brindisi” from Verdi’s “La Traviata,” “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s “Turandot” and “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s “Tosca,” as well as Broadway musical numbers “Some Enchanted Evening” from “South Pacific” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.”
Rather than hand out programs, Maryland Opera will post translations online for the songs in Italian so audience members can follow along with the lyrics.
The group has remained active on social media during the pandemic, posting interviews, educational programs and performances, including one released today in which singer Trevor Scheunemann sings both parts of a duet.
But Harp said it’s not quite the same as being able to see and hear opera in person.
“It’s the wonderful communicative art between singer and audience. It really can’t be done through Zoom or through a device.”
Arias Alfresco at Boordy Vineyards
Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Boordy Vineyards, 12820 Long Green Pike, Hydes
Amy Shoremount-Obra, soprano
Yi Li, tenor
Jarrod Lee, bass-baritone
Arias Alfresco at St. Francis Xavier
Saturday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m.
Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, 13717 Cuba Road, Hunt Valley
Christine Lyons, soprano
Taylor Boykins, mezzo soprano
Trevor Scheunemann, baritone
Arias Alfresco at The Church of the Redeemer
Saturday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.
The Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St., Baltimore
Colleen Daly, soprano
Kirk Dougherty, tenor