Singing loudly in a group is one of the riskier activities going when it comes to the coronavirus. You just can’t do it with a mask on and contain those germ-laden aerosols. So how in the world is the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice going to happen this summer? Virtual concerts are all the rage right now, but director Maria Todaro has something even more ingenious up her sleeve: a drive-in opera performance.
On August 29, fans of grand opera will be able to pull up to a choice spot on the grounds of Tech City in Kingston and enjoy a fully staged production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca from the shelter of their automobiles – not projected onto a giant outdoor screen, but live. Organizers are calling it “likely a first in the world of musical performance and certainly a first in the global world of grand opera.” As at a typical drive-in movie, the audience will drive right into parking slots, turn on their car radios for sound, relax, and enjoy the show. Both the venue and the technology ensure that audience members stay safe in their cars while musicians and staff socially distance themselves onstage or behind it.
Under the aegis of director Maria Todaro the cast features Joyce El-Khoury as Tosca, Dimitri Pittas as her lover Mario Cavaradossi, and bass/baritone Kyle Albertson as Baron Scarpia. One of the most widely performed operas of all time, Tosca is vibrant with passion and politics, as dramatic as it is lyrical, featuring some of Puccini’s most ecstatically rhapsodic music.