WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The performing arts still faces uncertain times amid the pandemic.
Many opera houses halted the 2020-21 season or scrapped it altogether, including the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Palm Beach Opera.
But now the Palm Beach Opera is planning for a revamped comeback.
Latonia Moore was an opera soprano performing in France when COVID-19 halted her career.
"I was as scared as everybody else. I thought it was the end of live theater," Moore said. "I mean, I thought this was the end," said Moore.
In fact, it was the end of the 2020-21 season for many opera houses, and the impact is still being felt.
"We know what's happening with a lot of singers, orchestral players and stagehands. Their work has been cut," said David Walker, Palm Beach Opera general director.
Now, in a twist of fate, the Palm Beach Opera has recruited many of the displaced performers from New York, Chicago and other top cities.
"This is the only thing that's going to keep anybody going is seeing people be human on stage in front of other humans," said Moore.
Palm Beach Opera will also restart the 2020-21 season at a new venue: the iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
"It's innovative in a safe, unique, open-air venue," said Walker. "And we really got the who's, who in opera in this festival. We happen to have a fantastic facility to do so."
The opera's first-ever outdoor festival will feature live performances of "La bohème," "Pagliacci," and "Die Zauberflöte" ("The Magic Flute") at the South Florida Fairgrounds' iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre on Feb. 19-27.
The Palm Beach Opera is working closely with the amphitheatre, reviewing every safety aspect of the patron experience, including physical distancing, enhanced protective measures, sanitation and reduced contact and touchpoints.
There will be clearly marked pathways and signs to ensure social distancing while entering and exiting the amphitheater, as well as for restroom usage. The Palm Beach Opera will also use a contactless ticketing system.