San Francisco Opera Principal Oboist Mingjia Liu knows it takes a whole lot of time and preparation for any orchestra member to prepare their music for an opera performance. What many people do not realize is that playing the oboe includes a whole other type of preparation--reed preparation. In this video, Mingjia explains the unique task he tackles every single day before he even lifts his instrument out of the case.

 

Posted: 11/14/2011 by Mingjia Liu (Principal Oboe)


Inexplicable things happen to me in London. Several years ago I made an early morning visit to Westminster Abbey, that great reliquary of historical memory, and found it almost empty and utterly silent, a rare state for one of the world’s great tourist magnets. I intended to spend a few quiet moments at the memorial stone of my favorite composer, George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), the great German-born composer, Italian-trained, and rightly claimed by England as their own.

Posted: 11/11/2011 by Patrick Summers (Conductor, Xerxes)


Before he was an opera singer, Tongan-born tenor Ta’u Pupu’a (seen in the roles of Omaha and Robert in Heart of a Soldier) was an athlete. A linebacker in the NFL, to be exact. Pupu’a was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens before a career-ending injury motivated him to go back to his first love: singing. How does a football player make this unconventional career transition? We had the same question. Read on to hear Ta'u's story in his own words. Check back again soon to read more about the connections between football and singing...there are more than you may think!
Posted: 10/24/2011 by Ta'u Pupu'a (Omaha and Robert, Heart of a Soldier)


We know that Heart of a Soldier closed its run last month, but we can't resist adding a couple of additional blog posts submitted by people involved in the show. There were just so many creative contributions! This first one is from projection designer S. Katy Tucker.

On September 11th, 2001 I was about to start my second day of work as a studio assistant for an artist in Soho. I'd moved to New York City one week before, taking a semester away from college.
Posted: 10/22/2011 by S. Katy Tucker (Projection Designer, Heart of a Soldier)


When people ask me what my job is at the opera, I typically tell them to think of my position as a project manager for the productions as a whole. It’s not my job to do the actual work of construction or to be inspired to create the design. My job is to make sure that the designs are done on time, on budget and as close to the designer’s intention as is conceivable. It has it moments of creativity and of rote mathematics. It has it moments of exciting involvement and concise detachment; but mostly it has its moments of managing large expectations.
Posted: 10/20/2011 by Andrew Farley (Assistant Technical Director)


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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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