The adage goes that necessity is the mother of invention. And now, by dint of the pandemic, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice—which normally produces a multi-day festival with dozens of performances and workshops each summer—has indeed invented something new: the world's first drive-in opera. (Great minds think alike: the English National Opera has announced that drive-in performances of "La Bohème" will be staged at London's Alexandra Palace in September.)
The innovative event, devised by the organizers as a way of maintaining the popular festival's presence during the coronavirus closures, is an outdoor, autos-only production of Puccini's immortal "Tosca" that will be presented at industrial park Tech City in Kingston on August 29 with admission beginning at 6pm. To enhance the experience, the festival's producers have brought in four massive jumbotron screens and a custom-engineered sound system (simultaneously broadcasting on FM radio).
Premiered in 1900 and based on Victorien Sardou's play "La Tosca," the melodramatic, three-act opera is set in Rome during Napoleon's invasion of Italy 100 years earlier and follows diva Floria Tosca; her lover, the painter and republican Mario Cavaradossi; and the corrupt police chief Baron Scarpia.
The performance promises a cast of world-class vocal soloists and a full orchestra (the latter in a socially distant, specially constructed orchestra pit behind the stage). Limited to guests in 600 cars, the site's parking plan is designed for safety (cars will be staggered four feet apart; all attendees must wear masks when not in their cars; hand-sanitizing stations will be located around the venue; all staff members have been tested and will wear masks; all on-site restrooms will be cleaned using special COVID-19 sterilization supplies).
Tickets (per car) are $50, $150, and $350. Online ticket purchases are strongly recommended.