Metro Weekly

Editor’s Pick: WNO’s Free Opera on the Field Presents ‘Carmen’

The Washington National Opera's most popular community event returns this Sunday, with a free broadcast recording of 'Carmen' from last spring.

WNO's "Carmen" with Isabel Leonard -- Photo: Scott Suchman
WNO’s “Carmen” with Isabel Leonard – Photo: Scott Suchman

The Washington National Opera’s most popular community event returns next weekend, with a broadcast recording of the company’s production of Carmen from this past spring.

The opera will screen for free to all those amassed on the field, this year held in the state-of-the-art home stadium of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.

The 17th annual Opera on the Field focuses on Georges Bizet’s beloved, blockbuster tragedy, second only to Verdi’s La Traviata in a recent ranking of the world’s most performed operas.

It comes to life with some of opera’s biggest stars, including Isabel Leonard, Vanessa Vasquez, Ryan Speedo Green, and Michael Fabiano.

The production was a Washington National Opera debut for the openly gay Fabiano, one of opera’s most in-demand tenors.

Fabiano plays Don José, the humble soldier who spurns everything and everyone else after becoming infatuated with the titular seductress, played by fellow opera superstar Leonard.

“In light of the way the world is right now, Carmen could seem taboo for some people and some sensibilities, as a man basically violently murders a woman at the end of the opera,” Fabiano told Metro Weekly. “But we still today face huge problems with violence against women in our society, where men stalk women until they’re murdered. We can’t deny that this kind of thing still happens to this day.

WNO's "Carmen" with Michael Fabiano and Isabel Leonard -- Photo: Scott Suchman
WNO’s “Carmen” with Michael Fabiano and Isabel Leonard – Photo: Scott Suchman

“We also can’t deny that bullying still happens. Carmen is a bully. It is what it is. She taunts Don José. She’s fully aware that she taunts him, too. She pushes him so much to the edge that he becomes infatuated to the point of murder, which happens. If we don’t showcase that there can still be this kind of unrest between humans, we’re actually denying reality. The great thing about Carmen is that it’s an extremely real story.”

Carmen’s appeal and continued relevance runs far deeper than that, though. “There are so many incredible questions to ask inside of the opera Carmen,” says Fabiano. “I think we get lost in a couple of fun songs and a little bit of dancing and a big duet. But there are life stories inside of this opera that, if played well, really tell a tale of what not to do and what to do in life.”

Guests are encouraged to arrive early, as seating on the field is first-come, first serve. To help encourage more to arrive early, the organization has planned pre-show activities, including performances by local artists, photo opportunities, arts and crafts for children of all ages, and prize giveaways focused on tickets to shows in the upcoming season of either the Washington National Opera or the National Symphony Orchestra, among other offerings.

Sunday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m., with gates opening at 2 p.m. for pre-show activities.

Audi Field, 100 Potomac Ave. SW. Visit or call 202-416-8000.

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