Opera adapts to pandemic, hosts drive-thru show in a parking garage -- and the results are stunning

Pandemic leads to unexpected creativity

DETROIT – When one thinks of the opera, images of a parking garage are unlikely to come to mind, but some unexpected creativity during the pandemic allowed people to experience the opera from their vehicle.

This proves it: When you can’t pack people into a theater, you find another way to perform.

Michigan Opera Theatre opened its season in late December this way. Unable to safely distance inside, performers and workers staged their production as a drive-thru experience.

It was an adventure, a first for the city and proof that creative minds can’t be stopped.

Much like a drive-in movie, attendees were instructed on how to tune their radios to get live audio. There was other guidance provided as well, for example, cars weren’t to go any faster than 5 mph.

It was unconventional, but it was fun. Some people dressed up and brought snacks.

Despite the cold temperatures, the innovation was fun and creative. Sometimes, the performers would approach vehicles, bringing the audience into the thrill of it all. It was almost as if every seat was a front-row seat.

Each act performed on a different level of the opera house garage. Even the garage itself became part of the set.

The whole situation provided an opportunity to think differently. Theater officials said rather than apologizing for the fact that they couldn’t do the show like usual, they chose to seize this chance, and think about the performance in a fresh, new way.

“It’s immersive,” one man said. “It’s absolutely all-encompassing.”

You have to see the video, just above.

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About the Author:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's married and the stepmother of three beautiful and brilliant daughters. Her personal philosophy in life, love and community is, "Do as much as you can possibly do, not as little as you can possibly get away with".