Drive-in Operas
San Diego Opera

Drive-in Operas

San Diego Opera

In the 2020-2021 Pandemic season, San Diego Opera trusted Keturah to create 90 minute versions of both La Bohème and The Barber of Seville to be played in a drive-in setting with onstage Covid protocols.  Both pieces, on opposite ends of the operatic spectrum, were presented on a stage constructed in the parking lot of the Pechanga Arena, a required 15 feet of space between singers’ mouths, and largely played for five cameras, which live captured the action to be shown to cars on 12 huge screens throughout the lot.  By turning La Bohème into a memory play, and Barber into a 70’s romp a la Laugh-In, Keturah’s productions were both critical successes in a difficult season.

Cast – La Bohème

Conductor   Rafael Payare
Joshua Guerrero
Ana Maria Martinez
Alexander Elliot
Andrea Carroll
Robert Mellon
Colin Ramsey
Scott Sikon

Cast – The Barber of Seville

Conductor   Bruce Stasyna
David Pershall
Emily Fons
Count Almaviva  
Carlos Santelli
Patrick Carfizzi
Peixin Chen
Alexandra Rodrick
Joshua Arky

Creative Team (For Both)

Set Design   Tim Wallace
Costume Coordinator  
Ingrid Helton
Lighting Design   
Chris Rynne
Sound Design  
Ross Goldman
Video Director  
Paul Ferreira

“the singers and musicians overrode all disadvantages in a performance that made the playful Laugh-in tie-in a vibrant entertainment, not all that far off from the effect Rossini and librettist Cesare Sterbini were after with the original opera.” 
~Ron Bierman

“Directed by Keturah Stickann, the production moves the 18th-century comedy to the 1960s, where the titular barber, Figaro, makes his entrance on a bicycle in a Sgt. Pepper’s-inspired bandleader coat.”
~Pam Kragen

“Director Keturah Stickann gave the San Diego audience as much of a traditional Barber updated to the nineteen-sixties as could be jammed into ninety minutes of rollicking comedy. She left that car-bound audience honking for more.”
~Maria Nockin

“On Saturday night, as the Tampa Bay Rays scored an improbably unique victory in the fourth game of the 2020 World Series, the San Diego Opera scored an even more improbably unique victory with its game-changing production of Puccini’s “La bohème.  How unique? Let us count the ways for this bold, gear-shifting production.” 
~George Varga

“Director Keturah Stickann overcame contagion challenges, which included a 15-foot separation between singers, by setting the production a decade after the original libretto ends. Rather than a garret, Rodolpho is in his study writing as he recalls his love affair with Mimi. The creative concept compresses the four-act opera to about 90 minutes, eliminates three minor singing roles and a few crowded scenes with soldiers, children or other extras. The revisions remove much of the second act's usual vibrant color and excitement, making the production something closer to undiluted tragedy, all the more poignant with the audience in cars to avoid a virus that can cause the same lack of breath that dooms Mimi". 
~Ron Bierman

“Stage director Keturah Stickann deftly reconfigured La bohème as a memory opera, with the poet Rodolfo sitting at his desk attempting to recall and set down that turbulent affair some ten years previously when he lived in Paris with his arty roommates and fell in love with the beautiful Mimi on Christmas Eve. Especially since Joshua Guerreo was singing Rodolfo, this proved a brilliant move.”
~Ken Herman

Behind the Scenes Photographs are by Keturah Stickann and Edward Wilensky

Production Stills are from the video capture directed by Paul Ferreira