No Ticket Required

How to get the show without the fee.

Victor Steinbrueck Park—the little handkerchief of lawn north of Pike Place Market—was such a nice place to eavesdrop for free on the Pier 62/63 concert series, right there across 99. I'm sorry they discontinued it. Not that Boz Scaggs doesn't deserve your money, but sometimes one's in the mood just to stretch out on a blanket on the grass and let the music waft over from a distance. Or sometimes one feels cheap.If you want to pirate, so to speak, some live outdoor music, where else can you go? Well, there's the ZooTunes series, held on the North Meadow of the Woodland Park Zoo, Wednesdays (mostly) from June 24–August 27. Since the zoo closes at 6 p.m., which is when the concerts start, you can't just go hang out next to the wallabies. (Not that you'd save much, anyway, with zoo admission $10–$15.) There is, though, a small park, with a beautiful, thick, cushiony lawn, at the corner of North 59th Street and Phinney Avenue North. You can hear a ZooTunes performance anywhere within the zoo, a colleague reports; and from the park, just outside the zoo's north gates, the screaming kids inside are perfectly audible—so the Indigo Girls and Emmylou Harris (both sold out) should be too.One summer series that encourages eavesdropping is the Seattle Chamber Music Society's. They even have a fancy name for it, "Music Under the Stars": They pipe their performances, which take place inside St. Nicholas Hall at Lakeside School, out onto the lawn, and invite freeloaders—who are even entitled to a program and intermission lemonade. On nice nights there are usually a few dozen people there, on blankets or lawn chairs, with picnic baskets or at least a bottle of wine. The pre-concert recitals, formerly held in the Lakeside chapel, will also take place in St. Nick this summer, and also will be broadcast. But the key to an al fresco evening is layer, layer, layer. The chill descends as the sun does, especially when you're sitting there inactive except for your ears.I've always thought it would be great if Seattle Opera did the same with its August productions—this year, Aida—especially if they added a big screen and beamed visuals outside, not just audio. People would flock to Seattle Center's fountain lawn, and just maybe be convinced to buy a few tickets for the upcoming season. But until they do, the only way to see a SO performance for free is to wangle your way into a dress rehearsal. They have two— one for each cast—on the Wednesday and Thursday nights before each Saturday opening night. Catch is, the passes are invitation-only. "We don't charge admission and can't call it a dress rehearsal 'ticket' because that word implies performance, which gets into a whole bunch of union issues," says one SO staffer. You get invited if you're a donor, though of course that wouldn't save you money.Who else gets to see a dress? Director of Public Relations Hilda Cullen runs down the list for me: SO volunteers and staff; specially selected high-school kids participating in SO's education programs; the friends and families of cast, chorus, and orchestra members. They also have a special program that allows guide dogs for the disabled to attend, to give them practice in dealing with crowds. (Any dog who can handle the Triumphal Scene in Aida will have no problem with downtown traffic.) Your best bet, then, is probably to start dating a chorus member in the next two months (I'd avoid the orchestra; just trust me on this one). Does that seem like more effort than it'll be worth? You need to be thinking long-term here; your new friendship will really pay off at next summer's Ring, when you'll be getting four operas for the price of none.gborchert@seattleweekly.com

 
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