Overture Workshops

Are you curious about opera but unsure where to start? Ever wonder how a soprano makes that incredible sound, or how sets magically change from one act to the next? Get answers to these questions and more in our interactive workshops. From words to music, costumes to staging, novices and mavens alike will learn how operas are created and experience San Francisco Opera behind the scenes.

Mondays, June 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2015


June 8, 15 and 22: Chorus Room, War Memorial Opera House (Enter through the North Stage Door at Franklin and Fulton Streets.)
June 29: Kanbar Performing Arts Center, 44 Page St., SF

$80 for the four-class series (plus $11 registration fee)
$25 for individual tickets for June 15, 22, or 29 (plus $11 registration fee) 

To buy tickets, call the Opera Box Office at 415-864-3330.  You can also visit the Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue.  Box Office hours are M 10am-5pm, T-Sa 10am-6pm (Saturday phones only).

Past participants rave about Overture:

“It was so much fun that after the 4 sessions were over, we were ‘lost’ on what to do on Monday nights.”
“This class is OUTSTANDING. I loved every minute of it."

"I attended a performance of La Traviata after being to the workshops, and I had the most enjoyable opera experience ever."

"Knowing the work that goes behind the scenes only increased the magic."

Please see the session descriptions below for advance reading material. 

Doors open at 6:30pm.  Beverages and light snacks will be served.  You can also bring your own food.  Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Participants are required to sign up for all four sessions. You don't need any prior knowledge of opera; the content is engaging for people of all experience levels, from beginner to expert.  Overture is intended for adults age 18 and over.  The workshops are interactive and consist of lively discussions and activities rather than lectures. 

The first three sessions will be held in the Chorus Room on the fifth floor of War Memorial Opera House.  Enter the Opera House through the North Stage Door at the corner of Fulton and Franklin Streets.

Directions and Parking Information for War Memorial Opera House

The last session will be held at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center, 44 Page St. between Gough and Franklin.

Directions and Parking Information for Kanbar PAC

Session Descriptions

Telling the Story

June 8, 2015, 7-9pm
At the heart of every opera is a story. In this session Kip Cranna, San Francisco Opera's Dramaturg, explains how source materials like books or plays are transformed into words that lend themselves to melody and rhythm. You'll write a short libretto (lyrics),  then hear three composers set your words to music!

These reading materials will help provide context for our discussion. 


June 15, 2015, 7-9pm
Now that we have words and music, we need performers to bring them to life! A singer will perform and talk to us about her career. Sheri Greenawald, Director of the San Francisco Opera Center, will lead us through a vocal lesson. And we'll hear from orchestra members about how they help tell the story of an opera.

Want to perform on the War Memorial Opera House stage?  Apply to be a supernumerary!

Session Presentation

Designing and Building

June 22, 2015, 7-9pm
During this crash course, San Francisco Opera Production Department staff members will share how they create enchanting effects that transport you to another world.  If you've ever wanted to go backstage at the Opera House, this is your chance!

Want to spend more time backstage?  Check out these tours of the War Memorial Opera House. 

Session Presentation

Assembling the Pieces

June 29, 2015, 7-9pm
All these elements unite under the guiding hand of a stage director. Jose Maria Condemi will talk about how he strives to create the ultimate dramatic effect. And you'll rehearse some scenes to experience firsthand how a director collaborates with performers. 

This synopsis of The Marriage of Figaro will help provide context for our discussion.

Photo: The Marriage of Figaro/Cory Weaver.