A night at the opera at the ballpark

The outfield grass at Nationals Park is freakishly perfect. The mowers that run across the grass are so sharp that every blade is perfectly flat and square across the top. The entire surface is the same uniform shade of green and looks level, even though you know there’s a slight crown to the field to help drainage. If you put your hand down, you can feel the sand, but if you grab the grass and give it a slight tug, the sod doesn’t want to move.

And then you realize that you’re playing with the grass in the spot where Ian Desmond usually patrols, and you can’t help but worry that all of this fooling around will lead to the bad hop that will cost the Nats the Series. That will make you the D.C. equivalent of Steve Bartman forevermore, so you stop being so fascinated by the grass.

As you recline on this fantastically lush outfield, Don Giovanni is busy on the stadium’s big screen, trying to put the moves on every woman with a pulse (and usually succeeding). This is going to end badly for him in a few hours, as it has in this opera since it first was performed more than 220 years ago. The costumes have been updated for this performance — everyone is wearing outfits that mix Italian fantasy with banana republic military — but the story is the same: Giovanni eventually gets his comeuppance after a statue comes to life, stabs him and drags him to hell, and Mozart shows he had a dirty mind and a taste for violence.

Nats Park

And you think about the electronic wonders of the modern world. Here you are, sitting on a blanket in the outfield of an honest-to-God major league baseball park, watching a simulcast of an opera that’s playing at the Kennedy Center just a few miles away. The sound is better than you’ve heard at some real operas, and the view is definitely better than you’ve gotten at most Kennedy Center events. Meanwhile, on your smart phone, you’re keeping track of the Nats game in St. Louis and the Atlanta game against the Mets. This could be a weird night: While you sit here on the Nats’ outfield grass and watch the don’s handiwork unfold, the team could become National League East champions a half-continent away, and you’ll know about it as soon as it happens. (It didn’t work out that way, but the conductor and some of the cast donned Nats hats when they came out for bows after the opera was over, so that was kind of fun).

This was all free, by the way — well, except for the food and drink at the concessions stands, for which ballpark prices were charged. And hours later, when the statue finally gets around to shivving the don, you can’t help but think to yourself: This is a really spectacular time to live in this city. And you’ve already put the next opera-in-the-outfield performance down on your Outlook calendar.

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