Opera in the Outfield: Everything you need to know if you’re heading to Nationals Park on Saturday


Brightly colored costumes and visuals from Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko will make this year's Opera in the Outfield presentation, of "The Magic Flute," a feast for the eyes. (Cory Weaver for the San Francisco Opera)

There's plenty thrilling about being at Nationals Park on game day: The smell of pretzels. The crack of the bat. Jayson Werth.

But it's only during Opera in the Outfield that fans can spread their blankets across the wide, green expanse. The Washington National Opera's sixth annual team-up with the ballpark has many draws, but that is one perk that cannot be discounted. If you're hoping to sit on the field during Saturday's free simulcast of "The Magic Flute," here's what you'll need to know:

How big is the screen? Will I be able to see?
The dimensions of the screen are 101 feet by 47 feet. "The Magic Flute" will also be close-captioned for those who are hearing-impaired or just want to follow along with the dialogue.

What's the best way to get there?
Saturday's simulcast will fall on a day packed with events, including White House Correspondents' Dinner, Flower Mart, the Funk Parade on U Street and more, all inevitably adding up to  a traffic-jam big bang you'll want to avoid. Take the Metro. The Green Line to Navy Yard-Ballpark station is the closest station to the park.

If you must drive: Parking at Nationals Park will be available for $10 in lots B and C. Attendants will accept only cash.

What time should I get there?
It depends on where you want to sit. Gates will open at 5 p.m. (a line is often already forming at 4:30 p.m.), but because Opera in the Outfield takes place during baseball season, organizers help preserve the grass by limiting on-field seating through a first-come, first-served wristband system. Wristbands will be distributed at a table marked  “Outfield seating” near Section 141. If you don't get a band, the stands will have open seating.

Which concessions will open?
Only concessions on the main concourse are expected to be open. Options include Daqs and Ritas, Hard Times Cafe, Shawafel, Chesapeake Crab Cake Co., Papa John’s, District Drafts, South Capitol Sushi, Bullpen Burrito and the new vegan snackery, Field of Greens. You can also bring your own snacks, so long as they're packed in a soft cooler. Outside alcohol and most drinks other than water are prohibited. (As are lawn chairs.) Don't forget to bring a blanket or two in the event it gets chilly at night.

I'd like to grab a drink with a date before the opera.
Check out our list of the newest options for eating and drinking near Nationals Park. If you're hoping for something fancier, try Osteria Morini, Park Tavern or the bar at Bluejacket Brewery. If you're in the mood for beer and a casual environment, try Fairgrounds. Each of the options is within 10 minutes of the park.

How long will the show last?
The opera begins at 7 p.m. and is expected to end around 9:45 p.m.

Is it kid-friendly?
Mozart's "The Magic Flute" gets a big, bright production here, thanks to sets and costumes by Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko. Kids will appreciate the whimsy of his larger-than life animal characters. The new adaptation is in English, with more dialogue scenes than operas typically have. But three hours may be a long night.

Lavanya Ramanathan is a professional eater/drinker/thinker for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. University of Texas. Northwestern University. Rap fan.
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