When I found out I was going to be the assistant conductor for Moby-Dick, I knew it meant that I was going to have to read the book. My attitude about that prospect was probably very much like yours. Sigh. But the choice was unflinching: Either I'm going to read Moby-Dick now, when I have every possible motivation and sufficient time, or I'm just never going to read it. Short of actually going on an extreme whaling vacation, I couldn't think of a more obvious circumstance to do something that I've long said I wanted to do. I'm happy I read it, and it made me feel more prepared, but it was unnecessary. Heggie's Moby-Dick does not need a primer to appreciate it, to explain it or even to fill in the blanks, it stands on its own as a thrilling and genuinely dramatic modern opera. But let's back up.

 

Posted: 10/22/2012 by Joseph Marcheso (Assistant Conductor, Moby-Dick)


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)


Kyle Brisby is a supernumerary in our current production of Handel's Xerxes. As one of several Super Wardens, he is required to silently walk, act and even move furniture around the stage with perfect timing. Of particular importance to this production, Kyle must look exactly identical to his other Super Wardens--all wearing black costumes with entirely white, bald heads. Photographer Michael Harvey took pictures of the entire process as makeup artist Lisa Patnoe transforms Kyle Brisby from a 21st century guy into a truly SUPER warden.
Posted: 11/08/2011 by Kyle Brisby (Super Warden, Xerxes)


 One of the hardest things to do in an opera is to be able to translate a basic question, or set of questions, into something visual which brings them to life in a dramatic context.
 
 “How do you remember the fallen?” was one of the important questions which Donna and I felt threaded the opera and this was answered in many through the main protagonist, Rick Rescorla. [Left: Thomas Hampson, who sings the role of Rick Rescorla in the opera, with Christopher Theofanidis.]
 
Posted: 09/16/2011 by Christopher Theofanidis (Composer, Heart of a Soldier)


We are thrilled to be kicking off our official Backstage at San Francisco blog. This first blog post comes from Christopher Theofanidis—the composer of Heart of a Soldier, our world premiere commission based on the book of the same name by James B. Stewart. Heart of a Soldier will have its premiere on September 10, 2011—the eve of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. While the opera may be new to all of us, there are many who have been working on it for years now. Read on to gain insight into some of the musical challenges Christopher worked through early in his composing process.

Posted: 08/15/2011 by Christopher Theofanidis (Composer, Heart of a Soldier)


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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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