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Austin Opera returns to live performance with 'Tosca' at Circuit of the Americas

Michael Barnes
Austin 360
Austin Opera has chosen the amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack for its first live, in-person performance of the pandemic era.

Austin Opera has performed in some unusual venues, including the now-demolished City Colosseum, once home to the rodeo, rock concerts and Carnaval bacchanalias, but it will hard to beat the novelty of its next show at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack.

On April 29 and May 1, the local troupe will perform a masked, socially distanced version of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" outdoors at the 14,000-seat Germania Insurance Amphitheater, more often home to acts such as Janet Jackson, Dave Matthews Band, Drake and Willie Nelson.

Performers have sung operas outdoors for a long time. Among the most famous productions of "Aida" was at the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. The Santa Fe Opera, one of the nation's best companies, performs at an open-sided theater with spectacular views of the mountains in the distance.

In Austin, Tosca will be played by Latonia Moore, Cavaradossi by Adam Smith and Scarpia by Aleksey Bogdanov, all three in their Austin debuts.

"To welcome audiences, performers, staff and crew back — with one of opera's classic works — is a wonderful gift," COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein said in a statement. "We are delighted to host 'Tosca' 'under the stars,' and are grateful to Austin Opera for making it happen."

Such an unusual event sparks a lot of questions. Happily, Austin Opera has answered many of them in advance. We took the liberty of condensing its guide.

Health and safety

Austin Opera’s union agreements and artist contracts require social distancing and masks throughout the venue. All ticket holders will need to complete a pre-performance health questionnaire prior to arrival at COTA. At the ticket gates, patrons will be subject to temperature checks, security screening and bag check.

Seating

Seating in the amphitheater will be reserved in a socially distanced manner by section. Ticket holders will be seated with at least two seats between groups, and every other row will be empty to allow for social distancing. The seating plan will continue to be contingent upon government orders and health and safety orders, and exact seat locations will be assigned pursuant to those guidelines.

Food and beverages

Food and beverages, which can be brought into the seating area, will be available for purchase and will include the usual racetrack fare. Masks will be required of all patrons at all times unless actively eating or drinking. No outside food or beverage or tailgating is permitted. 

Parking

Free and ample parking in COTA’s Lot H is included with all tickets. Limited upgraded parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis for $20 in Lots B, C and D. Frequent open-air shuttles will be available to whisk patrons from each parking lot to the box office and venue entrance. Parking lots and the box office will open at 5 p.m. The gates open at 6 p.m., and curtain time is 7:30 p.m.

Projected English titles

English titles will be visible from all seats in all sections and will be projected onto the massive screens on each side of the stage. These screens will also show a close-up view of the action on the stage.  

Inclement weather

If there needs to be a cancellation or postponement of either performance, Austin Opera will communicate with ticket holders via email by 3 p.m. on the day of the event. Rain dates are April 30 and May 2.

Tickets

Tickets for Tosca at the Circuit of the Americas start at $39 and are available now at austinopera.org. Tickets include free parking in COTA’s Lot H; upgraded parking is available at the time of ticket purchase or on site on the day of the performance, pending availability.

Information

Call 512-472-5992 or e-mail tickets@austinopera.org.

Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at mbarnes@statesman.com.