Todd Thomas, Sarah Coburn, and Morris Robinson Feature in Tulsa Opera’s Baseball Staging of ‘Rigoletto’

By Logan Martell

On November 12, 2020, Tulsa Opera is set to launch an audiovisual version of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” which was performed and filmed in ONEOK Field baseball stadium in October.

This “Rigoletto” film will be free to stream worldwide from Tulsa Opera’s YouTube channel and website.

Directed by James Robinson, the re-imagined production is the first staged grand opera in the United States to take place since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The staging sees Rigoletto as a lowly mascot, The Duke as a cocky star pitcher, and Sparafucile as the umpire.  The film itself is directed by Emmy-winning director/ producer Frank Zamacona, who has worked on over 250 special and series with PBS, ABC, The Discovery Channel, and more.

The cast includes Sarah Coburn as Gilda, Joshua Weeker as The Duke, Morris Robinson as Sparafucile, Todd Thomas in the title role, Allegra De Vita as Maddalena, and Kevin Thompson as Monterone.

“Our ‘baseball’ Rigoletto makes history as the first Rigoletto set in baseball AND on a baseball field, and it made history as the first grand opera to be performed live before a live audience by an American opera company since COVID-19 shut down the performing arts last spring,” says Artistic Director Tobias Picker. “It also taps into the fascinating, but little-known history of the cultural intersection between baseball and opera in the USA going back to the MET’s epic performances throughout the country’s baseball stadiums in the early 20th century. It was extremely gratifying to see an audience of 1,800—far in excess of our usual numbers, and half of those seeing an opera for the first time! I myself was as excited by watching this production from the dugout as I was sitting in my box at the MET for the premiere of my opera there in 2005. This beautiful film directed by Frank Zamacona documents an achievement the Tulsa Opera can be proud of for all time.”