SD Opera plans drive-in for ‘La bohème’

San Diego Opera announced drive-in performances of “La bohème” at the Pechanga Arena San Diego parking lot. (by Yves Renaud/courtesy of Opéra de Montréal)

SD Opera plans drive-in for ‘La bohème’

San Diego Opera announced drive-in performances of “La bohème” at the Pechanga Arena San Diego parking lot formerly the San Diego Sports Arena, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. – starting Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. Additional performances are Oct. 27, 30 and Nov. 1.

These performances mark the first performances of live opera in the community since the company closed “Hansel and Gretel” in February 2019 and will mark one of the first professionally produced staged, live opera performances in the nation since the emergence of COVID-19 led to cancellations and postponements around the world. These performances will also mark the return of the San Diego Symphony performing live since cancelling its current season. These drive-in performances of “La bohème” are made possible in part by the support of lead production sponsor Darlene Marcos Shiley.

Since the emergence of COVID-19, San Diego Opera has continued to closely monitor the recommendations of public health and government officials and realized that a traditional season in a traditional theater is impossible to contemplate right now. Because of this, the company developed this alternative plan after learning about other safe and successful drive-in live performances in both Europe and the United States. Patrons will remain in their cars for the duration of the performance and socially distanced protocols will be enforced should the patron need to briefly leave their vehicle. Patrons will be able to listen to the opera through their car stereo which will be broadcast via an FM transmitter. Screens will also enhance audience members’ experience with close up footage of the singers on stage. These performances will be a car-friendly reduced performance of Puccini’s beloved opera with musical cuts to bring the opera close to 90-minutes.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, we’ve been working diligently to find ways to bring live performances to San Diego while preserving the health and safety of our audiences, employees and audiences,” shares San Diego Opera General Director David Bennett. “After attending Mainly Mozart’s successful drive-in concerts this summer, I knew this drive-in format would work well for us and allow our audiences to enjoy live performances and a communal experience in a safe environment.”

Angel Blue as Mimi in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “La bohème.” (photo by Marty Sohl)

“La bohème” is an important opera for the company. It was the first opera San Diego Opera presented when it became a producing company in 1965 and was the first opera the company presented after its near closure in 2015, which was also the company’s 50th anniversary.

“La bohème” tells the story of young friends in Paris and the poet Rodolfo’s love affair with the sick and ailing seamstress Mimì. Considered by many to be the “perfect” first time opera, it is one of the most popular operas produced and served as the basis of the musical “Rent.”

Staging “La bohème” in a socially distanced world comes with some challenges as artists require 120 square feet of space around them, and no one can sing within 15 feet of each other. To tackle these challenges the director, Keturah Stickann, has placed the action in Rodolfo’s study sometime after the death of Mimì, which occurs at the end of the opera. The poet Rodolfo is writing his “Bohemian Stories,” and as he writes, his memories of the events of the opera come to life around him enabling singers to share the stage while keeping one another safe.

Subscribers who have already subscribed to “La bohème” have been rolled into the drive-in performance on the day to which they subscribed and are being contacted directly by the company. Preferred parking areas will be provided for subscribers based on their current seating sections within the Civic Theatre.

Tickets for non-subscribers are now on sale at Guests are allowed to bring as many passengers as their car has seatbelts. San Diego Opera recommends guests only attend the opera with people they have already been quarantining with. All guests are required to watch the opera from their vehicle and wear masks if they briefly need to leave their vehicle to use the restroom facilities.

The non-subscriber tickets for “La bohème” begin at $200 per car with a limited number of premium parking spaces at $300.

Purchasing Tickets
Visit or call (619) 533-7000 for more information.

“La bohème” is part of San Diego Opera’s 2020-2021 Season. (photo by Yves Renaud/courtesy of Opéra de Montréal)

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