Essay and Visual Art Contest

In celebration of our 75th Anniversary, San Francisco Opera Guild announces an essay and visual art contest for students who participate in or see the Opera à la Carte production of Puccini’s La Bohème and also attend the student dress rehearsal at the Opera House on November 12, 2014. Deadline for all entries is December 15, 2014. Winners will be notified by January 9, 2015.

Ten essays and ten works of visual art will be selected as finalists by Guild staff and will then be judged by panels of experts to select winning entries. Two premium tickets to any opera in the 2015 summer or fall San Francisco Opera seasons will be awarded to the first place essay and the first place visual art entry. Two runner-ups in each category will each receive a $50 gift card. Winning entries will also be posted on the Guild’s website.

Guidelines for Essay Contest

Essays should be 250-400 words and address one of the following questions:
  1. Identify a theme in La Bohème. How was this theme dramatized in the story and how did the music help illustrate the theme?
  2. Describe and compare your experience with the Opera à la Carte production in your school and your experience at the Student Dress Rehearsal at the Opera House. Did one help you appreciate the other better? In what ways?
  3. What elements of La Bohème relate to your own life or things happening in our society? How did the opera help you understand or appreciate these aspects of your life or aspects of our society more fully?
  4. What part of La Bohème or character in the opera had the most impact on you and why? How did the portrayal of this part of the opera or character differ between the two performances? Did you react differently in response to the two performances? How?
  5. If you performed in the Opera à la Carte production before attending the dress rehearsal, how did your participation affect your experience seeing the professional production at the Opera House?

Guidelines for Visual Art Contest

Visual art can be done in any two-dimensional medium, including digital art or photography, and should be no larger than 11”x17”. Content should represent a personal reflection on a character, scene, or theme of the opera as you experienced it in the Opera à la Carte performance or the Student Dress Rehearsal or both. Here are some possible subjects:
  1. Draw your favorite part of La Bohème, as depicted in the Opera à la Carte performance, the performance at the Opera House, or how you think the opera should be.
  2. The four main friends (Rodolfo, Marcello, Mimi, and Musetta), all have different jobs and personalities. Design costumes for each of the four characters that represent who they are as individuals.
  3. Be a production designer! La Bohème takes place in Paris in the 19th century, but it can be adapted to fit the circumstances of other cultures and time periods. What if the design could be up to you? How would you set this story? What colors would you use? What sort of performance space? What colors would stand out on the set, in the costumes and lighting? Choose a scene from the opera, and consider these questions as you draw a sample of how your production would look.

All entries should be clearly labeled with name, teacher, grade, and school. Entries may be submitted by mail to San Francisco Opera Guild, 75th Anniversary Contest, 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, or electronically via email attachment in any format to Please submit originals of art work. Handwritten essays will be accepted but will be transcribed for posting on the website. Entries will be judged according to form and content and will take into account grade appropriate skill levels. Only one entry per student in each category. Teachers may submit entries from several students in one package or email. All rights to reproduction are granted to San Francisco Opera Guild once an entry is received.