Can you plan a San Francisco Opera season?
That was the question posed to participants in our Overture Workshop on March 11, "Behind the Curtain: Planning a San Francisco Opera Season." After a lively discussion with Kip Cranna, Director of Musical Administration and Jen Good, Associate Director of Production and Head of Staging, we passed the baton to the audience: it was their turn to decide which operas would comprise a season.
In groups of eight to ten people, attendees played a season planning game in which they had to earn a minimum number of points in income and spend a maximum amount in expenses. From a list of about 40 different operas, they chose one from each of seven categories (French, German, Modern, Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Wild Card), and one additional from any category, making up a season of eight productions. They had to add in the costs of principal singers, stars, productions (sets, props and costumes), and some extras like royalties.
Spirited discussions ensued, with participants battling for their favorite operas, styles, or composers, and everyone’s calculators got a workout! The groups encountered the same challenges that San Francisco Opera’s season planners face every year: what is the right mix of operas? Can we do a less well-known opera or will it cause us to miss our budget? Do we have enough money for a new production or do we need to bring the old one out of storage?
All the groups met their expense and income goals, but several were forced to swap out their personal favorites for more popular warhorses. Everyone came out of the workshop with a new appreciation of the challenges involved in planning an opera season.
If you’d like to attend an Overture Workshop, our next one features the San Francisco Opera Chorus. For more details, visit sfopera.com/chorusworkshop.
[Photos by Dolores DeStefano.]