Backstage at San Francisco Opera > February 2014 > 14 Ways Opera is like the Winter Olympics
14 Ways Opera is like the Winter Olympics

Sex. Drama. Sabotage. Greed. Oh, and of course, amazing feats of athletic ability. You might not think that opera and the Winter Olympics have anything in common, but we here at San Francisco Opera beg to differ. As we quickly approach the opening of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, we give you 14 ways opera is like the Winter Olympics: 



1) WE KEEP 'NEVER NUDE' IN BUSINESS.


Most audience members thought that the San Francisco Opera Chorus appeared in their "birthday suits" for the raucous Walpurgis scene in our 2013 production of Mephistopheles. However, all were wearing flesh-colored body suits and prostheses during the show. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]
 



Russian skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxsim Shabalima take 'never nude' flesh-colored bodysuits (and ice skating costumes) to a whole new, um, level at a 2012 competition.

2) IT'S TOTALLY NORMAL TO MAKE A DRAMATIC EXIT BY JUMPING OFF A CLIFF.


Tosca (Patricia Racette) jumps to her death in our 2012 production of Tosca. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]




Interestingly, the Sochi Olympics will mark the first time that women can compete in Olympic Ski Jumping. 

3) WE'RE BIG FANS OF HALF-PIPES.




The set for our 2012 production of Moby-Dick, seen from the auditorium, as well as the practice 'half-pipe' used during rehearsal.



The medal ceremony for snowboarding occurred inside the half-pipe at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

4) PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO RESORT TO SABOTAGE.


Iago (Marco Vratogna) succeeds in his plot of sabotaging Otello (Johan Botha) in our 2009 production of Otello. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



Tonya Harding's hired attack and sabotage of Nancy Kerrigan in 1994 was practically MADE for opera. 

5) WE REALLY, REALLY LOVE SEQUINS. 


Sequins never looked so good as they did on Eilana Lappalainen in our 1998 production of Lulu.  



Because really, IS there such as thing as too many sequins? U.S. ice skater Gracie Gold doesn't seem to think so. 

6) THERE'S ALWAYS A CHANCE THAT SOMEONE IS TRYING TO POISON YOU. 


Paolo (Patrick Carfizzi) puts poison in Simon Boccanegra's goblet in our 2008 production of Simon Boccanegra. [Photo by Terence McCarthy.]



In 1998, German skier Johann Muehlegg claimed he survived being poisoned by his own ski federation by drinking holy water. He was ostracized from the team after Nagano and defected to Spain in 1999 -- a country he then embarrassed by being stripped of all his medals in Utah in 2002 for doping. 

7) SOME PEOPLE CAN'T KEEP INAPPROPRIATE THINGS AWAY FROM THEIR PRIVATE PARTS.


Salome (Nadja Michael) sent the audience to therapy after writhing around with the head of Jokanaan (Greer Grimsley) in our 2009 production of Salome. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



American snowboarder Scotty Lago won a bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010 and then promptly went home early after risque images of him and his medal appeared on the internet.

8) WE CAN'T CONTAIN OUR EMOTIONS. 


If wailing and sobbing were an Olympic sport, there's no question these ladies would medal. Leonora (Sondra Radvanovsky) learns the fate of her lover Ferrando in our 2009 production of Il Trovatore. 



Tosca (Patricia Racette) mourns the fate of the Cavaradossi in our 2012 production of Tosca. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette can't contain her emotions following her performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

9) SOMETIMES PEOPLE RESORT TO USING PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS.


Nemorino (Ramon Vargas) expresses enthusiasm at the the Elixir of Love in front of him in our 2008 production The Elixir of Love. [Photo by Terence McCarthy.]



Sadly joining a long list of athletes in recent years, Russian biathlete Irina Starkyh has been banned from the Sochi Olympics after testing positive for doping. 

10) SKATING? NAILED IT. 


Mechanical doll Olympia (Hye Jung Lee) skates across the stage in our 2013 production of The Tales of Hoffmann. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



Before he danced with the stars or hawked Subway sandwiches, Apolo Anton Ohno became the modern face of speed skating in America.

11) TEAMS STICK TOGETHER, EVEN WHEN FACED WITH CHALLENGES. (PLUS, AS SINGERS WE ALWAYS FEEL THE RHYTHM AND FEEL THE RHYME.)



In spite of antics and unanticipated challenges, the lovers in our 2013 production of Cosi fan tutte stay together. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



Based on the true story of the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team, the 1993 film Cool Runnings highlighted the resilient spirit of their team at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

12) BAY AREA NATIVES KNOW HOW TO BRING IT WHEN THEY HIT THE BIG STAGE. 


After wowing audiences at the Met, La Scala, and Covent Garden, San Francisco native Lise Lindstrom wowed us when she stepped in to replace an ailing Petra Maria Schnitzer. She made her San Francisco Opera debut as Senta in our 2013 production of The Flying Dutchman. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



15 year-old San Jose resident Polina Edmunds is one of the youngest members of the US team heading to Sochi. 

13) OPERA SINGERS WORK EVERY DAY, FOR HOURS AT A TIME, TO ACHIEVE ONE OF THE MOST TECHNICALLY AND PHYSICALLY CHALLENGING FEATS KNOWN TO MAN.



Jay Hunter Morris takes on the role of Siegfried, one of the lengthiest and most challenging in the repertory, in our 2011 production of the same name. [Photo by Cory Weaver.]



The cross country skiing competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. And you thought walking up the hills in San Francisco was tough.

14) AND OF COURSE, WE KNOW HOW TO GET THE PARTY STARTED.


Before Renee Fleming made headlines singing the National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl, Luciano Pavarotti brought down the house singing "Nessun Dorma" at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. 



 

Posted: 2/3/2014 11:11:20 AM by San Francisco Opera
Filed under: 2012-13Season, 2013-14Season, costumes, FlyingDutchman, Mephistopheles, MobyDick, Olympics, production, TheTalesOfHoffmann, Tosca


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