Free Opera? Yes ma’am!

15 Sep

On Saturday, Chuck and I joined some friends at Nationals Park in D.C. to watch the opening night of Verdi’s La Traviata.  The opera was being performed at the Kennedy center by the Washington National Opera and Target sponsored a live broadcast of the performance on the Jumbo Tron in the baseball stadium – for free!  Chuck and I decided to drive, because we stayed home to watch the majority of the Virginia Tech football game, and we had to pay $10 for parking at the stadium, but otherwise, it was a free seat at the opera.  I wasn’t prudent enough to take a camera, so I stole some pictures from a stranger’s Flickr site…

Enjoying the show

We brought blankets and spread out on the (perfectly manicured) grass to watch the show.  It was really lovely – very casual atmosphere (totally my style) which allowed for conversation and even picnicking.  There were kids running around and playing, people enjoying beer and hotdogs from the concessions, couples were cuddling (and oddly enough, one dude was barechested, doing situps while his girlfriend held his feet…).  Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

New Love

In La Traviata, a courtesan, Violetta Valery, who has many interested suitors, falls in love with an “ardent admirer”, Alfredo Germont.  They run off together to the French countryside and enjoy a whirlwind romance.


Because of money troubles, Violetta pawns off her belongings so she can continue to pay for the house that she and Alfredo inhabit – when Alfredo finds out that she has made such a sacrifice, he runs off to Paris to try to settle their financial matters without her knowing.  While Alfredo is gone, his father comes to visit Violetta and begs her to break up with his son – because Alfredo is having an affair with Violetta, the Germont family has been shamed and Alfredo’s sister cannot become engaged until he returns to his “virtuous life” with his family.  Violetta and Alfredo’s father argue for a while, but finally she agrees that she should help Alfredo’s sister and she leaves Alfredo, without explaining why.  Deeply distraught, Alfredo panics that she has left him for another man and plans to confront her at an upcoming party.   When Violetta shows up to the party on the arm of a Baron, a humiliating public argument is had between Alfredo and Violetta, and he denounces her love, throwing money at her as repayment for all she paid for when they were living together.  His father witnesses the argument and denounces his son for mistreating a woman so – after dueling the Baron, poor Alfredo flees the city, heartbroken and ashamed.

"Nothing on Earth could stop us now!

Several months later, Violetta is overcome with tuberculosis and is on her deathbed when Alfredo arrives to beg her forgiveness and proclaim is undying love.  They have a few mushy moments together and Violetta decides they should go to Church to give thanks to God – when she tries to get dressed she collapses and finally succumbs to her death in Alfredo’s arms.


A tragic opera, but a fun evening.  I really hope the Washington National Opera decides to do it again…  I was really impressed with the quality of the sound and the broadcast – this was, by far, the nicest Jumbo Tron I’ve ever seen – the image was so clear it was like watching the opera on a nice flat panel TV at home.  According to the Washington Post, 15,000 people enjoyed the free simulcast at the ballpark.  Thanks to Sean for letting us know about it!


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