Last fall, we here at San Francisco Opera were struck by how many connections existed between sights in our beloved Bay Area and the operas presented in our fall season. This inspired us to think about where the characters in our three summer operas – The Tales of Hoffmann, Cosi fan Tutte, and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene – might sightsee while they spent their time in the Bay. Where would E.T.A. Hoffmann go to drink his troubles away? In what seaside community would Mary of Magdala (a fishing town on the Sea of Galilee) feel most at home? And where would Cosi's Ferrando and Guglielmo get their infamous beard disguises groomed?
Posted: 05/13/2013 by
San Francisco Opera
Drew Farley, Assistant Technical Director for the SF Opera Production Department, had not seen The Tales of Hoffmann before he started to work on drawings and planning for the production, but after he researched the themes and the story, he understood and appreciated the inspiration for the production’s design coming from Belgian painter Leon Spilliaert.
Posted: 05/07/2013 by
Drew Farley (Assistant Technical Director)
The wise, knowing half smile on the enigmatic woman's face and the silvery sheen of her cloak have made many viewers assume that this is the work of a very modern painter. Surprise! This image of Mary Magdalene ̶ one which embodies such an air of mystery ̶ was painted in the year 1540 by Giovanni Solvoldo.
Posted: 05/01/2013 by
On a research trip to Amsterdam, Mary Magdalene scholar Kayleen Asbo, visited the Rijksmuseum, a national museum dedicated to the arts and history of the Netherlands. While there she stopped for a look at Jan Van Scorel's 16th century depiction of Mary Magdalene and sent us this summary.
Posted: 04/23/2013 by
When I heard San Francisco Opera had commissioned a new work
based on the story of Mary Magdalene, I immediately thought of a beautiful woman with long flowing red hair holding a perfume jar. You see, I was an art history major, and for anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with medieval or Renaissance art, the Magdalene is a familiar face.
During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene became an incredibly important devotional figure, second only to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her past as a sinner made it easy for people to identify with her. (She came to be known as a prostitute, although this is apocryphal.) As the first to actually see Jesus after his resurrection, she could give wayward believers hope that they too could achieve that kind of personal experience with God.
Posted: 04/16/2013 by
Dolores DeStefano (Assistant Director of Education)