One of San Francisco Opera's favorite stage directors is Jose Maria Condemi. Along with being a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Opera stage, Jose Maria is also Artistic Director at Opera Santa Barbara and an advocate for young artists. This fall he directed Puccini's formidable "Tosca" staring not one, but two alternating casts in the production. Amid his busy schedule, Jose Maria took some time to answer our Five Questions. Take a read and see how one handles breathing new life into old productions, advice for young performances and where to get great BBQ in San Francisco.
Posted: 11/27/2012 by San Francisco Opera


How did you come to work on Moby-Dick and what was the early process?

We were getting ready to premiere Three Decembers in Houston (2008) and very close to the end of the process when Jake and Gene approached me about Moby-Dick. It was impossible for me to say no the challenge of staging Moby Dick, but even harder to pass up the opportunity to work with Jake and Gene again. Nothing had been written at that point, so I was part of the project from the very beginning and the three of us worked through it as a team.

I work on a lot of new pieces, and I’m often with them from the start. In this particular process with Moby-Dick, we all found our way through this massive book together, looking at it from three distinct points of view: Gene the words, Jake the music, and me concentrating on the structure of the story.
Posted: 10/18/2012 by Leonard Foglia (Director, Moby-Dick)


"I quite enjoy trying to understand the personality of the performer." –Harry Silverstein, Rigoletto Stage Director






Posted: 09/24/2012 by San Francisco Opera


Sitting around a table enjoying happy hour with a couple of my brother’s friends, I casually mentioned that I had attended a performance of The Marriage of Figaro and really enjoyed it. One friend, who I shall do the service of not naming, said “Anna, I didn’t realize you attended operas!” “Oh!,” I replied, “it’s one of the great perks of working at San Francisco Opera—I get to see every production we do!” “Wait,” he said, “you work at the Opera?” He started laughing, and unfortunately continued: “I imagine you and seven other people crammed around a table sewing a bustier or something.”

Posted: 08/31/2012 by Anna Sopko Wright (Sr. Marketing Manager, Subscriptions)


I worked in the rehearsal department for three seasons and after leaving that position, I was prepared to do just about anything.  I could spit out any one of a hundred phone numbers faster than you could pull out your iPhone.  People marvel at that, and I marvel that they marvel. It was just second nature to me and anyone else who worked here.  You have to be ready to do anything at a moment’s notice.  During the 1989 earthquake, one of my co-workers was at the ER with a singer who had injured her ankle during a performance while the rest of us phoned all remaining artists to be certain everyone was OK.  Thankfully, all were fine, and one of our mezzos even invited all of the other artists to her apartment for a chicken dinner.  The very next morning we had set up camp at the Masonic Auditorium where we proceeded to perform a week’s worth of opera there in concert version.  
Posted: 05/04/2012 by Valentina Simi (Artist Services Coordinator & Assistant to the Musical Director)


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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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