Opera meets circus meets baseball in unique pair of productions: Even if there’s no crying in baseball, there is plenty of drama. So, perhaps Oglethorpe University’s Anderson field is the perfect setting to present two of history’s greatest dramas.
The Atlanta Opera just raised the curtain on innovative productions of Pagliacci and The Kaiser of Atlantis — except, in this case, there’s no actual curtain. Instead, the operas are being performed under a massive circus tent, built on the university’s historic baseball field.
“Being outside, in a baseball field, under a circus tent...it's surreal. And we're embracing that surreal idea,” says Atlanta Opera artistic director Tomer Zvulun.
Planning for the outdoor performances has been underway since the acclaimed company first cancelled performances in early March.
"What we know today is very different from what we knew then, but one thing is super clear: Outdoors is more safe than indoors. And that's been consistent. So, from the very beginning we asked ourselves what would make sense for us, how we would perform outdoors,” says Zvulun.
Audience members will sit under the tent in small, spaced-out pods — and each opera (performed on alternate nights) runs roughly 90 minutes with no intermission. But the social distance applies to the performers, too — at times they’ll sing inside giant vinyl towers, and for the physical comedy in Pagliacci, designers turned to the masters at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts. For the play-within-a-play sequence of Pagliacci, performers will sing in the towers while puppets act as their “doubles” onstage.
"What we're seeing is flat cut-out puppetry, also known as jumping jacks, because that's the way they were made,” explains Jon Ludwig of the Center for Puppetry Arts. “They were made to be a street performer, which is appropriate, because we're in a tent -- not in a street, but outside. So, it has its roots in comedia and street performance."
For Megan Marino, who performs as “Beppe” in Pagliacci, the experience of singing while watching “herself” as a puppet is truly magical.
"I was just watching them do their rehearsal — and Jon showing them that just the smallest move or the tilt of a head could change the entire body language and just, like, tell whole story — and I'm sitting over there watching from the front, just like, 'What is this crazy world I walked into? This is amazing!' I was like a kid in a candy store."
It’s a safe bet audiences will feel the same way; proving that, indeed, this baseball diamond is a field of dreams.
Both productions will be performed on historic Anderson Field in Hermance Stadium at Oglethorpe University through November 14. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
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