San Francisco Opera’s Assistant Principal Violinist Beni Shinohara shares her experience working in San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet Orchestras.





Posted: 04/20/2012 by Beni Shinohara (Assistant Principal Second Violin)


Why in the world would a 95-year-old-lady, doddering along with a cane, be asked to share her thoughts about the intricate world of opera? Because if you’ve traveled the world, as I have, to see 63 complete Ring cycles and countless other operas besides, you want the world to know why you’re so passionate about opera and why it’s so important to keep this priceless art form thriving. Opera has enriched my life beyond measure, and my financial support of San Francisco Opera—including my legacy gift—will help enrich the lives of others in the coming years.

Posted: 03/12/2012 by Verna Parino, Bel Canto member


Lauré Campbell has served as San Francisco Opera’s orchestra librarian for an incredible 41 seasons. From just down the hall from the orchestra pit, Lauré’s job has been to acquire the sheet music for each production – whether from the Company’s own library or another source, mark it up to the necessary specifications, and have it ready for each member of the orchestra. Retiring this spring, we asked Lauré a few questions about what’s changed during her tenure, what hasn’t, and what she’ll miss most.

Posted: 01/24/2012 by Lauré Campbell, Orchestra Librarian


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


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)


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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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