Guest commentary: Singing the praises of a night at the drive-in opera

San Diego Opera presented “La Boheme” in the parking lot of Pechanga Arena.
San Diego Opera presented “La Boheme” in the parking lot of Pechanga Arena.

It was moving, it was touching, it was unique, it was splendid!

And we dressed up, even though it was a drive-in. If you peeked in our car, you would see a parade of our best and fanciest dresses along with the Czech custom-made jewelry, high heels, shiny purses, all finished by a tap of French perfume. We did not cheat that opera evening a bit!

It was a Tuesday night out with our family to see “La Boheme” in the parking lot of Pechanga Arena in the Midway District on Oct. 27. So much to take in: our first drive-in! We learned that inconspicuous sips of wine from a water bottle are required of seasoned drive-inners, so we followed that wise advice. And the evening turned out fabulous.

We drove in, many attendants directed us with a smile to our spot, no lines, no hustle or chaos. We parked, tuned to 98.5 FM, nodded with a smile and a wave at our neighbors, exchanged several words, and a feeling of community joy settled in. And when everyone started honking horns and flashing headlights in the enthusiasm of the evening, I was in heaven.

As the first tones of Puccini’s masterpiece were heard, the sound was impeccable and I was moved. I did not expect it to be so “real”; I imagined I would be watching an opera from my car with a stage far away from me. But I was wrong. There was so much to relish. The beauty of the superb singing, excellent acting, outstanding orchestra and the urgency of conveying a story full of passion, love, empathy and friendship transported us into the middle of Paris to follow “vie de bohème” as if we have never seen it before.

All the singers were extraordinary, boasting truly astonishing credits. Let us not forget our own San Diego Symphony making an excellent opera orchestra under the baton of dynamic and charismatic Rafael Payare.

I am happy for all the generations of opera admirers, including my family, who have been indulging in this simple but so musically well-conceived story full of feelings of humanity that leaves our souls transformed.

Marketa Hancova is a Point Loma resident.


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