‘Cinderella’ to invade Nationals Park May 16. And it’s free!

‘Cinderella’ to invade Nationals Park May 16. And it’s free!

TR and wicked stepsisters.
Will TR be able to straighten out Cinderella's wicked stepsisters. Find out Saturday afternoon, May 16, at Nationals Stadium. For free. (Photo: Scott Suchman)

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 — Rossini’s comic opera “Cinderella” is in the on deck circle awaiting its turn in the batter’s box. That’s right, opera fans. It’s time for the Washington National Opera’s seventh annual free opera simulcast in HD on the big scoreboard at Washington Nationals Park.

The date: Saturday, May 16, 2015, rain or shine.* And did we mention “Free”?

This year’s big screen simulcast is the latest installment of the WNO’s “Opera in the Outfield” program. It’s a golden opportunity for opera fans, opera newbies and curious families alike to view one of each season’s most colorful or appealing operas and, perhaps, to encounter Rossini’s marvelous music for the very first time.

Sometimes we have to give you a hint about an upcoming opera’s plot. But that’s not something we need to do this year, as nearly everyone in every age group has run into that popular fairy tale in some shape or form over time, whether in print form, a Disney film, or even online.

But Rossini’s comic opera has a couple of interesting twists. Instead of a wicked stepmother, Rossini’s Cinderella—whose real name is Angelina—has a wicked stepfather named Don Magnifico. Plus, she has a fairy godfather, who’s actually Prince Charming’s tutor, Alidoro.

And oh, the Prince and his servant swap outfits early in the show, so the Prince gets to meet—and fall in love—with Cinderella early in the game without anyone knowing. (So don’t tell anyone, okay?)

An extra-added attraction that’s sure to appeal to younger family members whose attention might start to wander. As the show unfolds, be sure to direct their attention to all the mice who keep wandering through this production. Trust us: these mice, actually portrayed by dancers, add a lot of humor to everything else. Even though they don’t get to sing, younger children in particular will enjoy watching them do their thing.

The opera’s in Italian. But not to worry. Just like a foreign movie, you’ll get instant translations onscreen. No lip-synching, either. So reading-age kids and adults alike will be easily able to figure out what’s going on. Plus, everyone pretty much knows the story anyway.

The opera begins at 7 p.m. But if you’re bringing the family, it’s a great idea to show up early, say, around 5 p.m. when the stadium gates open. That’s because a flurry of pre-game (or is that “pre-opera) fun events and activities for kids get underway around that time.

When you arrive at the stadium, you’ll find there’s free seating for all in the stands and on the outfield grass as well. But outfield seating is strictly first-come, first-served, so get there early if you want to set up a family picnic spread.

Here’s a short list of activities we’ve conveniently borrowed from the Washington National Opera’s press release:

  • A Royal Parade in which kids of all ages are invited to arrive in costume and march around the lower concourse (begins at 6 p.m.; meet at sections 131-132 at 5:45 p.m.).
  • Photo opportunities for kids of all ages with the living statue of Babe Ruth and characters from Cinderella.
  • Performances by local artists, including students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Opera Program and the Watkins Elementary Choir.
  • A meet-and-greet with M&M’S® Brand Chief Chocolate Officer, Ms. Brown.
  • Kids can also play in the open playground, dress up with items from the Washington 
National Opera costume trunk, visit the craft table, and have their faces painted by expert 
makeup artists.
  • American Heritage Chocolate demonstrations and lessons in chocolate history.
  • A screening of the Warner Bros. cartoon “What’s Opera Doc?” starring Bugs Bunny. Set 
to Wagner’s iconic “Ride of the Valkyries,” this parody of opera is best known for Elmer 
Fudd’s proclamation “Kill the wabbit!”
  • Chances to win prizes, including a family fun pack of four tickets to Matilda the Musical 
at the Kennedy Center, the opportunity to attend the Kennedy Center’s Fourth of July Celebration, two tickets to the Kennedy Center’s 18th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honoring Eddie Murphy, a year’s supply of M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies, and more.

Why all the M&Ms? That’s an easy one. This annual event is being sponsored by the Washington National Opera’s friends at Mars Chocolate North America.

Need more detailed information, including how to RSVP to win prizes and how to get to the stadium? You’ll find it all at the following link: OperaintheOutfield.org.

Need even more details, like information on accessibility and captioning, or to request a special accommodation? Just visit the Nationals’ website or contact the Kennedy Center’s Accessibility Office at (202) 416-8727. Or visit access@kennedy-center.org.

*P.S. If it does rain, some sheltered seating will be made available.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17