As the lutenist in San Francisco Opera’s 2011 production of Xerxes, I play not only an unusual role in the orchestra, but also a number of unusual instruments not well known to many opera goers. While the traditional opera repertory is not often thought of as utilizing improvisation, baroque music has a rich history of it. Nowhere is this truer than in this production of Xerxes where the harpsichord and I make up what could essentially be called the rhythm section of the orchestra. We play from a bass line, much like what a cellist uses, but we have figured bass (numbers under the bass notes which tell us which harmonies to play) added to our parts. Similar to how a jazz pianist might accompany a song, both the harpsichord the lute family instruments play the harmony, which is improvised in keeping with musical content of the composer.
Posted: 11/05/2011 by
Michael Leopold (Theorbo, Arch Lute and Baroque Guitar, 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)
It's hard to believe how much has been going on this fall. All within the first three weeks of the season we managed to get three operas up and running (Turandot, Heart of a Soldier
and Lucrezia Borgia
); put on two fabulous galas--Opera Ball 2011: A Night in the Forbidden City
and Bravo! Club Opening Night Gala
; present the world premiere of a brand new opera; hold the City of San Francisco's official observance of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks through a moving concert in Golden Gate Park; host Opera at the Ballpark at AT&T Park for the first time in daylight; and meanwhile launch our second series of television screenings on KQED 9. We are proud to be such an integral part of San Francisco's community and look forward to the rest of the 2011 fall season!
Posted: 10/11/2011 by
San Francisco Opera