How many people does it takes to run a performance of Turandot? More than you might think!






Posted: 11/23/2011 by San Francisco Opera


My job at San Francisco Opera as video director is to work with the production team, the artists and the media team to direct the capture of each opera for television and theatrical distribution. I have been directing at the opera for 5 years. Rigoletto was my first plazacast to the civic center and it was very well received. David Gockley had the idea of building an HD suite on the 5th floor of the opera house and I was fortunate to be hired as the resident video director. I have directed all of the AT&T Ballpark simulcasts and over 25 operas for OperaVision, television and theatrical distribution. Over the last five years, two other directors--Christine Strand and Bob Harnett—have also directed some of the operas.
Posted: 11/18/2011 by Frank Zamacona (Video Director)


Tenor Joseph Frank sings the role of Emperor Altoum in Turandot. Emperor Altoum is one million years old...and Joe Frank is not. It is makeup artist Timothy Santry's job to transform Joe before each performance of Turandot into a million-year-old Chinese emperor. But well before the first performance back in September, preparations were being made for this complicated transformation. Tim Santry started the look by creating a custom prosthetic face to be worn as a base for the look. We were there to capture photos of the process.
Posted: 11/16/2011 by Timothy Santry (Makeup Artist)


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)


Last night my husband Jet and I went to see and hear the San Francisco Opera’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot.” It was the late composer’s last musical work, brilliant, intense and complicated. What followed for us was both a revelation and an epiphany that made us shine a light on our own musicianship.





Posted: 11/03/2011 by Paula DeFries (First time opera-goer)


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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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