Why have there been so many new operas based on current events or contemporary characters? Hopefully, the answer is that these incidents and people inspire composers to write what turns out to be their best music. And calculating producers like me feel the familiar subject matter, elevated as it has been to a mythical level through the power of the media, will deliver the audience into the theater. Advance knowledge of a subject can make a new opera more “friendly,” in the way star performers can attract people to see a piece they don’t know. So getting Tom Hampson to perform the lead role in an opera about 9/11 premiering on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 should succeed in capturing attention and delivering an audience. Very few events in recent years have elicited such feelings of horror, grief and empathy.
Posted: 09/04/2011 by David Gockley (General Director)


This morning, August 31st, I am looking over my music with twenty or so "notes" from Francesca, her assistant Matthew, David Hanlon (assistant conductor) and our librettist, Donna Di Novelli. These notes are, of course, little things that can be changed to make the show better and better. It just takes a little brain power and a good deal of strong coffee to assimilate the suggestions; especially precious hours before an orchestral run-thru. [Left: Melody Moore and Thomas Hampson as Susan and Rick Rescorla in a recent working rehearsal. Photo by Cory Weaver.]
Posted: 09/02/2011 by Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla, Heart of a Soldier)


American Bass-Baritone Michael Sumuel has participated in our Merola Opera Program and even sang a Schwabacher Debut Recital last season, but Heart of a Soldier marks his official San Francisco Opera debut. In this opera, his primary role is Tom, an American soldier and medic who loses his life in the battle of X-Ray in Vietnam.

Opening night is drawing closer! I came into this process knowing that it would be just that-a process. It isn't often that you'll make an important debut with a company such as San Francisco Opera in a world premiere with the composer and librettist present and telling the true story of three remarkable human beings. It is an overwhelming task to concisely describe the process up to this point but I am incredibly grateful to be just one piece within a larger scope. 

Posted: 09/01/2011 by Michael Sumuel (Tom and Ted, Heart of a Soldier)


Heart of a Soldier is a compelling true story of two men who are the grit and grizzle of what we call American Heroes and I get to cover one of them: Dan Hill
 
This story is so amazing at all levels, and so close to the heart that it's hard not to get wrapped up in it. In this situation, the man is not only real, but he is alive, and will be here to see the production.  One wants to be as accurate as possible when performing the life of another.
Posted: 08/31/2011 by Brian Jagde (Dan Hill Cover, Heart of a Soldier)


“Do you have to wear your glasses? No? Then I want them off. And do you have high heels with you? Yes? Good. Go put them on. I want you wearing heels.”
 
These are some of the first words spoken to me by director Francesca Zambello as I enter my maiden rehearsal for Heart of a Soldier. Having just come from a day at work, I had changed into flats and put on my glasses--which I typically only wear for driving, movie watching, or making sure flying stage knives aren’t headed my way--so that I would be better prepared for what the night would hold. It was clear in that moment that my journey from mere civilian to Supernumerary (or ‘Super,’ for short) was underway.
Posted: 08/29/2011 by Kristen Jones (Senior Leadership Gifts Officer)


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Introduction

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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