Backstage at San Francisco Opera > July 2014 > Opera at the Ballpark with 26,000 of Your Friends
Opera at the Ballpark with 26,000 of Your Friends
On Saturday, July 5, a crowd of 26,000 opera fans and first-timers flocked to San Francisco Opera's eighth live simulcast at AT&T Park for a free evening of Verdi's La Traviata. The performances, which also entertained an audience of 2,600 at the War Memorial Opera House three miles across town, starred husband-and-wife team Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello as the ill-fated lovers Violetta Valery and Alfredo Germont, and baritone Quinn Kelsey as Giorgio Germont. The performance also featured the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi. A diverse audience of all ages ranging from opera newbies to long-time opera aficionados came together to share a one-of-a-kind evening of fun, food and world class opera.

Opera at the Ballpark, presented by San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Giants, has become one of San Francisco’s most-loved traditions. Since 2006, San Francisco Opera simulcasts have drawn a combined crowd of more than 223,000 people to enjoy free, live opera in unconventional settings.Through state-of-the-art technology, the evening’s performance of La Traviata was transmitted in 1920x1080 high definition (HD) to AT&T Park’s 103-feet wide Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision scoreboard—one of the highest quality outdoor scoreboards in the nation—live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco Opera simulcast transmissions are made possible through the extraordinary technology of the Company’s high-definition video production facility, the Koret-Taube Media Suite.

The evening’s event—hosted by the Bay Area’s Classical KDFC Radio personalities Dianne Nicolini and Hoyt Smith—was punctuated by many highlights. Interactive and educational on-screen content ranging from opera trivia to artist interviews to the always popular cartoon What’s Opera Doc? entertained audiences leading up to the performance and during the intermissions.

The night kicked off with “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by talented songstress Vanessa Bousay. San Francisco Opera and Classical KDFC Radio partnered again this year to host the “KDFC Star-Spangled Sing-Off,” a public singing competition that accepted more than 70 video submissions in search of a winner to sing the National Anthem at AT&T Park prior to Opera at the Ballpark. This year’s winner, Erik Chalfant as Vanessa Bousay, dazzled in a sparkling red gown and boasted an impressive classically trained baritone voice.

During the first of two intermissions, the simulcast audience had the opportunity to view live feed of the onstage set changeover between Acts I and II of La Traviata. San Francisco Opera Director of Production Greg Weber narrated the activities and answered questions submitted by audience members via Twitter as the curtain of the War Memorial Opera House remained up throughout the break to reveal the behind-the-scenes magic of breaking down and resetting the opera sets and props.

During the second intermission, audiences experienced our operatic equivalent of the “Seventh Inning Stretch” as they joined Beach Blanket Babylon’s Tammy Nelson in singing “Take Me Out to the Opera!” This year, San Francisco Opera partnered with local mobile app developer Smule to record the audience sing-along for release on their Sing! Karaoke app. San Francisco Opera is the first opera company to partner with Smule for the inclusion of operatic repertoire in their karaoke-style app. Three arias from San Francisco Opera’s Summer Season as well as the “Take Me Out to the Opera!” Sing-along are now available on the Sing! Karaoke app for iphone and Android.

After Violetta took her last breath and the moon was shining brightly in the night sky over McCovey Cove, the curtain came down on San Francisco Opera’s eighth wildly successful Opera at the Ballpark. As has become the tradition, the cast members took a bow sporting their choice of San Francisco Giants apparel, reminding audiences again of the partnership between these two great San Francisco institutions.

All photos by Scott Wall.
Posted: 7/11/2014 3:21:13 PM by San Francisco Opera
Filed under: 2013-14Season, DavidGockley, Traviata


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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