Cringing at the opera

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Marlis Petersen, Ildebrando DArcangelo
Some of the scariest opera moments ever might be coming up Sunday, when Lyric Opera invites the kiddies in for Popcorn & Pasquale, a 70-minute "opera adventure" designed to introduce five- to 12-year-olds to the art form, which they can then begin to enjoy right along with their great-grandparents.

This adaptation of Donizetti's Don Pasquale will be hosted by actor Ross Lehman and will feature the stars of Lyric's current production of that work, including Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as the foolish old man and Marlis Petersen as his too-young-to-be-true bride. And it's priced to be family-friendly: kids' tickets are $10 to $20; adults $20 to $40.

The scary part is the popcorn.

When Lyric announced this show to the press, they handed out little bags of the deliciously greasy, salty-sweet stuff from Garrett. To die for, but you needed a shower after you ate it. The thought of thousands of tiny, oily hands rubbing away for 70 minutes on the velvet upholstery and pristine gilded walls of the opera house?

Even if they print the programs on wet wipes, they can't be serious, can they?

Well, yes. They are. Here's what Lyric facilities director Rich Regan says about it:

"We are allowing popcorn into the theater for this performance only. Supplied from Wells Street Popcorn, the individual bags will be priced at $2 for buttered and $4 for caramel. This popcorn has a very low 'mess factor' because we did not want a significant residue on the guests' hands while/after they ate."

Huh? Buttered? Low "mess factor"? Eeek!

Elektra wading around in the blood of her mother comes to mind.

They'll need a command performance by Merry Maids when it's over.

And what about all those drinks the grown-ups have had to chug or dump at the end of intermission? Was that fair?

Popcorn & Pasquale is half of a two-program winter outreach effort at Lyric, aimed at getting new audiences into the house. The other show, coming up January 5, is The Second City Guide to the Opera, a collaboration dreamed up by Lyric creative consultant Renee Fleming, who's also appearing in it. Here's a taste.

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