Release date: 7/11/2014
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 performance, which also entertained an audience of 2,600 at the War Memorial Opera house three miles across town, starred husband-and-wife team Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello as the ill-fated lovers Violetta Valéry 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.
26,000 Attend San Francisco Opera's
Free Live Simulcast of Verdi's La Traviata at AT&T Park
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. For more information, visit www.smule.com/apps.
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.
Free live simulcasts are among the first innovations of San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley’s tenure and part of the Company’s campaign to bring opera into the community and to wider audiences. The first simulcast debuted in May 2006 with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, drawing 8,000 people to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. Subsequent simulcasts include Verdi’s Rigoletto at Civic Center Plaza and Frost Amphitheater at Stanford University; Mozart’s Don Giovanni at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis, and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa; and Verdi’s Falstaff at Frost Amphitheater. The first simulcast at AT&T Park in September 2007 delighted 15,000 fans with Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah. There have been seven additional Opera at the Ballpark events at AT&T Park to date: Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in June 2008 (23,000); Puccini’s Tosca in June 2009 (27,000); Verdi’s Il Trovatore in September 2009 (25,000); Verdi’s Aida in September 2010 (32,000); Puccini’s Turandot in September 2011 (16,000); Verdi’s Rigoletto in September 2012 (27,000); and Verdi’s La Traviata in July 2014 (26,000).