Backstage at San Francisco Opera > October 2013 > A #WhaleWatch for Moby-Dick!
A #WhaleWatch for Moby-Dick!
Photo via Whipped BakeshopThe much-anticipated debut of Moby-Dick on PBS’ Great Performances airs this weekend and to celebrate San Francisco Opera invites you to #WhaleWatch: a nationwide viewing party! Invite your friends and family to a Moby-Dick themed gathering at your home or favorite bar/restaurant, and you can win a DVD or Blu-Ray signed by composer Jake Heggie by sharing your photos and ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #WhaleWatch. Below, we give you some of our ideas on how to have a whale of a time from nautical-themed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails to projection-based mood lighting -- remember to send us your seaworthiest moments and share your own ideas with us!

Get your whale boats lined up in a row and check the Great Performances schedule or your local listings for when Moby-Dick will be showing on your local PBS station.

If you haven’t read the book since high school, refresh your memory with the Moby-Dick Big Read, which features actors like Tilda Swinton and Stephen Fry and artists like Alison Turnbull reading and illustrating each chapter. Since you probably can’t read the whole book before Friday night (at least if you want to sleep and eat), you have our permission to check out the synopsis on SparkNotes.

To get acquainted with the SFO production, watch behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew of Moby-Dick on the San Francisco Opera Youtube Channel. There you will also find the opera’s trailer and a 3-minute sneak preview.

Get your pad in shipshape with these decorative ideas. Our 2012 production used gorgeous projections of stars, masts, sails, and even hologram-esque boats to define the world of the Pequod in search of Moby Dick! Copy this idea by  building your own star projector to guide your way to a great night!

(A scene from Moby-Dick featuring projections by Elaine McCarthy.  Photo by Cory Weaver.)

To set a seaworthy mood, use green crepe streamers to create seaweed climbing up your walls, or use construction paper and cardboard to create a ship’s wheel. Add some ship-themed bunting to add to the seafaring feel; there are many styles available on Etsy or they can be easily made.

Make sure you also deck out your food and drinks! These DIY anchor coasters will get your guests into the spirit(s). For dinner, seat your guests with these nautical placecards or make your own origami boat placecards with a few pieces of paper, (thanks, Martha)!

To fit in on the whaleship Pequod, wear your best nautical striped attire. Want to come in costume on the cheap? Easy! Just put on a nametag that says “ISHMAEL.”

Instead of grog, get your friends into the whale-watching spirit with these delicious (and scurvy-preventing!) cocktails:
Sea Breeze: 1 part vodka, 1 part grapefruit juice, 3 parts cranberry juice
Salty Dog: 1 part gin or vodka, 4 parts grapefruit juice
Captain's Son: 2 parts spiced rum, 5 parts ginger ale
Cape Cod: 1 part vodka, 4 parts cranberry juice
Nantucket: 2 parts brandy, 1 part cranberry juice, 1 part white grapefruit juice

Serve with paper straws and napkins that say anchors away!

For delicious maritime appetizers, make mini-sailboats with deviled eggs and peppers. You can also serve clam chowder in ocean-themed bowls.

Image from

Dinner should, of course, be ocean-centric. Lobster is the perfect Nantucket-themed meal, but if you don’t want to shell out the clams for one-pounders, you can find delicious, pre-made lobster ravioli at Trader Joe’s. For vegetarian guests, serve veggie sushi, either handmade or ordered in!

For a seaworthy dessert, make the perfect cookies using a whale shaped cookie cutter, or place paper sails and pendants into cupcakes. To get an authentic New England feel, make a Nantucket cranberry pie, just like Ahab’s mom used to make!

Share pictures of your viewing party with us @SFOpera on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #WhaleWatch! We’ll pick one winner after this weekend to receive a newly released DVD or Blu-Ray copy of Moby-Dick signed by composer Jake Heggie. See you at the #WhaleWatch!

Posted: 10/28/2013 3:37:04 PM by San Francisco Opera
Filed under: MobyDick, new-works


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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