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)


Have you ever driven by the Opera House in the evening and wondered why its balcony is resplendent in rainbow hues and settled by gay merrymakers? It is the wine-and-cheese reception for Rainbow Series subscribers!

[Hint: The next Rainbow Series event happens to be November 2! For more information about Rainbow Series, visit http://sfopera.com/Season-Tickets/Subscribe/Rainbow-Series.aspx]
Posted: 10/31/2011 by Ben Shum and Randy Alfred (Rainbow Series Subscribers)


When I moved to San Francisco 21 years ago, I never would have guessed that in 2011 I would be working not one, but TWO dream jobs at the San Francisco Opera.

My first break came in 1996 when the Opera House was closed for seismic renovation and the company took over Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a year.


 
Posted: 10/30/2011 by Jess Perry (Senior Budget Manager and Extra Chorus)


A giant passed away. A man that has served as a major inspiration for so many people, Steve Jobs, the former CEO and creator of Apple Inc. is now flying with the angels above. Mr. Jobs must be one of the most forward looking men of the 20th and 21st centuries; he was a man of huge ideas that reached the masses. He was also a man with a message: never look back, never think small. This message resonates loudly and clearly today for all of us committed to breathing life into a world of music and art that is suffering in a time of economic chaos.
Posted: 10/26/2011 by Michael Fabiano (Gennaro, Lucrezia Borgia)


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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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