"You're on!": two of the most thrilling and nerve-wracking words you will ever hear in the English language as a cover (or understudy). In my opinion, covering can be compared with thrill-seeking sports like bungee or base jumping. You must be prepared at a moment's notice to go onstage and perform. During this summer season at San Francisco Opera, I am covering two VERY different roles: Madame Mao from John Adams' Nixon in China and The Queen of the Night from Mozart's The Magic Flute.

Posted: 06/18/2012 by Susannah Biller (Soprano)


John Bischoff, a Pre-Opera Talks Lecturer is a versatile performer frequently featured in opera and choral performances throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Before devoting himself to a career in music, John taught English in Guangzhou, China. Below John shares some of his memories on Nixon’s historic visit to China.




Posted: 06/14/2012 by John Bischoff


I am just going to admit it: I am showmanced.

And this is no run of the mill, 8 week and then you are done, showmance. This one will go the distance. The difficulty of this showmance is that it involves more than one artist and I am afraid that when Nixon in China finishes its run here in San Francisco, I may be thrown into a fit of post-show depression that I can’t climb out of.

Posted: 06/08/2012 by Buffy Baggott (Secretary to Chairman Mao, Nixon in China)


When I accepted the role of Richard Nixon a few years ago, I knew it was going to be the most challenging assignment of my career. Taking on Nixon in China, the brilliant opera by John Adams, was a daunting task for so many reasons, but the obstacle that would challenge me most was that of becoming the iconic colossus, Richard Nixon.


Posted: 06/07/2012 by Brian Mulligan (Richard Nixon, Nixon in China)


Did you know we are presenting Nixon in China in the 40th anniversary year of the historic visit? In the Education Department we don't often find ourselves discussing an opera based on an actual event, especially a recent one! So I decided to do some studying...




Posted: 06/06/2012 by Dolores DeStefano (Education Program Associate)


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Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.

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