MUSIC TO OUR EARS

Opera San Antonio takes to the stage with return of bewitching live performances

Opera San Antonio takes to the stage with return of live performances

Tobin Center for the Performing Art
Opera San Antonio returns to the Tobin Center with live performances this spring. Photo by Ed LaCasse Photography

Lovers of live performance can finally shake off a year of soap operas in favor of the real thing, as Opera San Antonio steps back into the spotlight this spring for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of only a handful of opera companies in the country returning to a live-performance schedule this season, Opera San Antonio hits the Tobin Center stage May 6 and 8 with two abridged concert performances of Lucia di Lammermoor, composer Gaetano Donizetti’s operatic take on Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor. Tickets are currently on sale through the Tobin Center box office.

While the show may not conjure lighthearted sentiments (after all, it is the story of a young woman who goes mad after being caught between the aspirations of her brother and her prideful lover) the bewitching live performances will surely help opera patrons shed some of their pandemic gloom. The Opera San Antonio show, performed in Italian with English titles projected above the stage, stars soprano Brenda Rae of Metropolitan Opera fame and a cast that features a few local players, including San Antonio native and baritone Scott Hendricks and tenor Rick Novak, as well as Austin-based mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa, South African bass Musa Ngqungwana, and newcomer Scott Quinn. The production is a collaboration with San Antonio Symphony.

The return to live performances was driven by Opera San Antonio’s assurance that in-person events could be hosted in a safe manner for all.

“Despite the challenges of the last year, OSA has been committed to serving our community. Since last March, that has meant shifting to virtual productions and online educational activities, but we have now reached a place where we can return to in-person performances,” says E. Loren Meeker, general and artistic director, also noting the health of the production’s staff, artists, musicians, and audience are paramount.

In addition to OSA continuing to follow recommended health and safety policies — and ensuring the public it will adjust its plans should new COVID-19 restrictions arise — OSA and the Tobin Center have implemented more safety measures to allow for in-person events. Those include regularly sanitizing high-touch surfaces, providing access to hand-sanitization stations, enforcing social-distancing guidelines and the wearing of masks for the entirety of each performance, offering touchless ticketing, and providing temperature checks. The Tobin Center will provide physically distanced seating, which is more easily accomplished with its reduced seating capacity, and performances will last no longer than 90 minutes, with no intermission breaks.

OSA also notes that the organization is following CDC guidelines, with the Lucia di Lammermoor performances including a reduced orchestra and only seven singers, enabling OSA to maintain appropriate social distance between the artists, staff, and the audience at all times.