Carmen, A Live Drive-In Opera

Opera SB Presents Carmen, A Live Drive-In Opera

Opera Santa Barbara is thrilled to announce Carmen, A Live Drive-In Opera, our company’s first live drive-in opera production as part of the Concerts In Your Car series at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. The only performance will be Sunday, December 6, at 2PM. This production marks our first live stage performance since COVID-19 led to cancellations and postponements around the world in early spring of this year.

Carmen, A Live Drive-In Opera is based on an adaptation by acclaimed British director Peter Brook of Georges Bizet’s classic hit. The 90-minute opera is an up-close and personal look at the loves and rivals of our titular heroine. Reimagined with only the four principal characters, come hear mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock (2019, The Crucible) as our Carmen in what will surely be a commanding performance in a signature role. Rounding out the quartet are Joshua Wheeker as Don José, Alexander Elliott (2018, The Barber of Seville) as Escamillo, and returning Chrisman Studio Artist soprano Jennifer Lindsay as Micaëla. Directed by Sara E. Widzer and conducted by Artistic and General Director Kostis Protopapas featuring members of the OSB Orchestra. Visit our Carmen Event Page for more information.

Opera Santa Barbara has continued to develop alternative programming throughout shutdown over the last six months. This includes our livestream events, Balcony Jam Sessions, and a variety of digital content across all of our platforms. But our core mission and hope has been to have live opera. Unable to perform live in Santa Barbara County due to a live performance ban, we have been keen to work with Concerts In Your Car in Ventura County following successful live drive-in performances in California from other opera companies such as Pacific Opera Project and San Diego Opera.

“When it comes to the ability to comfort, move, and inspire the human soul, nothing compares to vibrant live theater. Our communities need the healing power of the arts now more than ever. We are thrilled to be able to bring live opera safely back, for the sake of our community and our artists. This will be an afternoon that we will remember for years to come,” said Maestro Protopapas. 

The event will follow all CDC and State of California guidelines. Attendees can enjoy the live stage performance from the safe and socially-distanced comfort of their vehicles. Opera Santa Barbara recommends guests only attend the opera with people they have already been quarantining with. Attendees can stay inside or by their vehicle as they are allowed to sit in folding chairs by their vehicle but must wear a face mask and maintain social distancing. The show will include a visual light show and multimedia entertainment across video screens. The combination of an extra high 360-degree stage and screens will ensure a good viewing experience for everyone. Sound will come through your car stereo, like a traditional drive-in theater on your FM radio. The opera will be sung in French with English translations projected on screen.

Tickets are on sale now at Each ticket is valid for one car. The number of passengers must not exceed the number of safety belts /seats in your vehicle, up to eight people. Car tickets start at $79.

L'Elisir d'Amore, March 2016, Photo by David Bazemore