Backstage at San Francisco Opera > March 2013 > Secret Garden Bus: Bridge to Berkeley
Secret Garden Bus: Bridge to Berkeley
It was finally here, the day we were taking the bus to see the world premiere of The Secret Garden! Sunday, March 10 was a beautiful spring day to rendezvous with friends at the Woodside Park & Ride lot, our meeting point. Gradually, our group of about 60 parents and children of all ages arrived and we boarded the bus to head to Berkeley for an adventure. [Left: Sarah Shafer (Mary) and Michael Kepler Meo (Colin) in The Secret Garden. Photo by Peter DaSilva]

How did this all come about? Thank my friend, Dianne! Months ago, we lamented that The Secret Garden, a co-production between San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances, would be staged at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. To us Peninsulans, the thought of driving up to the East Bay facing cringe-inducing traffic, bridges, tolls, and parking is enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for attending a performance. That being said, there was a bridge between us and Zellerbach Hall. 

[Above: Michael Kepler Meo (Colin) and Sarah Shafer (Mary) become friends. Photo by Peter DaSilva]

“Maybe we should hire a bus,” Dianne suggested.

“Why not?” was my response.

And that’s exactly what we did! Before we knew it, we had overwhelming interest in the outing and by the time March 10 rolled around, we had a full bus of excited kids (and parents).

Family opera has been a passion of mine for years, especially as a native San Franciscan who became engaged in opera as a child. I will always recall attending my first opera at the War Memorial Opera House. It was a student matinee of Madame Butterfly, and I was in the third grade. To me, family opera is the future of the art because it introduces the next generation and their children to this fascinating combination of staging, acting, singing, and music all under one roof. As a current San Francisco Opera board member, my mission is to see family opera continue on San Francisco Opera’s mainstage in perpetuity, just as we hope music programs continue in our public schools in the years ahead.

[Above: Young opera fans meet soprano Sarah Shafer after the performance]
As one of the Opera’s three 2013 world premieres, The Secret Garden typifies the nearby Silicon Valley spirit. The opera’s music is written by Nolan Gasser, a critically-acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist, as well as the architect of the Music Genome Project, the technology behind Pandora Radio. The Secret Garden includes a bit of Hollywood too, with libretto written by Carey Harrison, the youngest son of the late Sir Rex Harrison. Most importantly, this family opera, like all operas, brings life’s drama alive with music, and in this case, with beautiful visual sets by designer Naomie Kremer.

And, to cap it off, our bus trip was a hit! Everyone had a lot of fun, and I know that I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with my son Nicky and all of our friends. According to Nicky, “the background was cool, the song was good, and it was a happy ending.” Success!

The Secret Garden was a true adventure for all of us on the bus from the Peninsula!
Posted: 3/26/2013 1:36:01 PM by Teresa Medearis (SF Opera Board Member)
Filed under: 2012-13Season, board, children, new-works, SecretGarden


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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