Opera at the Ballpark returns, after taking last year off due to the Ring Cycle at San Francisco Opera. Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, starring Pene Pati [ed note: Bryan Hymel was originally slated to star] and Nadine Sierra will be simulcast to Oracle Park on September 21st. It’s a free (but ticketed) event that draws avid fans as well as the culturally curious. SF Opera’s General Director Matthew Shilvock says the familiar atmosphere makes it an ideal introduction to opera.

There’s more information about the free event at the San Francisco Opera website.

“There are no barriers at the ballpark in terms of how you can access this art form,” he says. “You get to see it on your own terms, in a venue that’s beloved by the community of San Francisco, with garlic fries and beer. And all of the energy of a ballgame, and amidst that you have this beautiful music emerging out of the ballpark stadium in the night air. It’s just amazing to see the families, the young people, people of all parts of the city coming together and just enjoying this beautiful music under the stars. There’s really nothing quite like it.” The first simulcast, only as far as Civic Center Plaza in 2006, drew about 8,000 spectators. Since they move to the ballpark the following year, the audience has grown each year, now up to about 30,000. Shilvock says there are several key factors to consider when planning the night out. “One is the popularity of the piece. It has to be a title or music that people feel very connected to, and Romeo and Juliet certainly has that going for it. The second thing is the weather, and of course we want this to be a beautiful evening, which really means that our simulcasts for our season are either in June or the very beginning of our season in September. And then the third element, of course, is the Giants’ schedule, and can we find a date that works for the Opera and for the Giants. And so all of those things come colliding together on September 21st with Romeo and Juliet.”