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Overture: Opera Workshops for Adults

Opera awakens all the senses with super-human singing, spectacular visuals, dramatic character portrayals, and the thrill of an orchestra all on one stage.  These interactive workshops won’t just deepen your appreciation of the art form; they will take you through the journey of creating an opera.  From words to music, sets and costumes to staging, newcomers and seasoned opera-goers alike will learn the process from the ground up and experience San Francisco Opera behind-the-scenes.

Join us for 4 consecutive Monday evening sessions beginning June 2 through June 23 from 7-9pm. All sessions are held in the Chorus Room at the War Memorial Opera House.   
Cost: $80 for the 4-class package (plus $11 registration fee).

Class capacity is limited—complete this order form or call the Opera Box Office at (415)864-3330 to reserve your space! Box Office hours are Monday 10am-5pm and Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm.

Here's what past participants had to say 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 was a terrific experience. It was filled with surprises and new notions of opera as a unique art form.”
 
"I've been a season ticket holder for many years. The operas I saw subsequent to class were MUCH enriched. I can't wait to see Tosca next week even though I have seen it at SF opera before!"

"Knowing the work that goes behind the scenes only increased the magic."
 
“Would go again in a heartbeat...”

Session Descriptions and Advance Reading Material

FAQ

 

Session Descriptions and Advance Reading Material

Date Session Title
June 2, 2014 Opera is a Story: From Text to Dialogue to Music
June 9, 2014 Performing: What's It Like to be a Musician?
June 16, 2014 Putting it All Together: The Director's Vision
June 23, 2014 Production Elements: What Does It Look Like?

 

Monday, June 2, 2014 at 7pm
Opera is a Story: From Text to Dialogue to Music

At the heart of every opera is a story. In this session we’ll learn how stories from source materials like books or plays are transformed into words that lend themselves to melody and rhythm. Kip Cranna, San Francisco Opera’s Director of Music Administration, will guide us as we explore how a librettist selects the essential moments of a story, and how composers enhance the meaning of those words with music. We'll have a chance to write short libretti (the text of operas) ourselves. Then we'll hear live examples of instantly-composed works based on those libretti! 

Workshop participants writing a libretto

Reading Material for Session 1 
Click on each title to download a PDF.  Please check back for updates.
Selection from Goethe's Faust (required)
Synopsis of Goethe's Faust (optional)
Selection from Arrigo Boito's Mephistopheles (required)
Synopsis of Boito's Mephistopheles (optional)
Selection from Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons (required)
Synopsis of the film Dangerous Liaisons directed by Stephen Frears (optional)
Synopsis of Susa's opera Dangerous Liaisons (optional)
Selection from "La Dame aux Camélias" by Alexander Dumas the Younger (required)
Synopsis of Dumas' "La Dame aux Camélias" (optional)
Synopsis of Verdi's La Traviata (optional)

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 7pm
Performing: What's It Like to be a Musician?

Now that we have words and music, we need performers to sing and play them! Adler Fellow Maria Valdes will perform an aria and talk to us about the career of an opera singer. Sheri Greenawald, Director of the San Francisco Opera Center, will lead us in physical and vocal warm-ups to demonstrate how singers use their bodies to project their voices to the furthest corners of an opera house. Plus we'll learn about the role the orchestra plays in telling the story of an opera.

San Francisco Opera Chorus

Click here to view San Francisco Opera's Supernumerary Job Posting  

Monday, June 16, 2013 at 7pm
Putting it All Together: The Director's Vision

Who brings all the elements together into one cohesive performance? A director! In this session we’ll talk to Director Jose Maria Condemi about how directors work with the conductor, the performers, and the production team to create the ultimate dramatic effect. He will also lead us in some typical theatrical exercises, so we experience what it takes to portray a character and share the stage with other performers.

Jose Maria Condemi

Reading Material for Session 3
Synopsis of Verdi's Falstaff

Monday, June 23, 2013 at 7pm
Production Elements: What Does It Look Like?
What would an opera be without dazzling sets, props, lights, make-up, wigs and costumes? During this crash course, San Francisco Opera Production Department staff members Christopher Verdosci (Assistant Costume Director), Lori Harrison (Master of Properties), and Eric Watkins (Assistant Lighting Designer) will guide us in an exploration of various stage areas and visual design elements, and share how they create multiple worlds on a single stage. We’ll examine the process of stagecraft from design to construction, learn how lighting changes everything, and find out how these masters juggle several performances at the same time.

Madame Butterfly

 

Click here to find out about War Memorial Opera House tours

FAQ

How do I order tickets?
How much do the workshops cost?
Do I have to sign up for all four sessions?
Do I need to have any prior knowledge of opera, or be a musician or performer to attend the workshops?
Do I have to be a certain age to attend the workshops?
What is the format of the workshops?
Do I need to prepare for the workshops?
Where will the workshops be held and how do I get there?
Where can I park?
What time should I arrive at the workshops?
Will there be a break during the workshops?
Will refreshments be served?
Can I bring my own food?
What should I wear?
Who is conducting the workshops?

How do I order tickets? 

You can order tickets by calling the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330, visiting the Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue, faxing this order form to (415) 626-1729, or mailing the order form to:

San Francisco Opera Box Office
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102

Box Office Hours: Monday 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm
 
Back to FAQ

How much do the workshops cost?
The cost is $80 (plus $11 registration fee) for the four-class package.

Back to FAQ

Do I have to sign up for all four sessions?
Participants are required to sign up for all four sessions. The workshops are planned as a sequential experience, each building on the last.

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Do I need to have any prior knowledge of opera, or be a musician or performer to attend the workshops?
No, all experience levels are welcome!

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Do I have to be a certain age to attend the workshops?
These workshops are offered for adults over the age of 18.

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What is the format of the workshops?
The workshops will be interactive as opposed to strictly academic. We aim to learn about opera by taking part in the creative process ourselves. Presentations will take the form of lively discussions and activities rather than lectures.

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Do I need to prepare for the workshops?
Please see the Session Descriptions and Advance Reading Material section above for supplemental materials to read before each workshop. 

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Where will the workshops be held and how do I get there?
The workshops 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, which is at the corner of Fulton and Franklin Streets. For the exact location of the North Stage Door, see this map. Once you enter the North Stage door, you will be guided to the Chorus Room. For directions to the Opera House, click here.   

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Where can I park?
Parking is available in several lots near the Opera House. Please call lots for current hours and rates. For parking lot locations see this map

Performing Arts Garage—(415) 252-8238
360 Grove between Franklin and Gough
Attendant on duty, covered garage

Civic Center Plaza Garage (underground)—(415) 863-1537
Enter on McAllister between Polk and Larkin
Attendant or 24-hr security on duty, covered garage

Tower Valet Parking—(415) 341-1592
Enter on Grove between Gough and Octavia
Attendant on duty 6am–5:30pm, otherwise self-park, uncovered lot

Opera Plaza Garage—(415) 771-4776
Enter on Golden Gate or Turk at Van Ness
Attendant on duty 24 hours, covered and uncovered lot

Place 2 Park
Enter on Golden Gate between Gough and Franklin

Back to FAQ

What time should I arrive at the workshops?
The workshops will begin promptly at 7 pm. We will be serving refreshments prior to the workshop, so it is a good idea to arrive early. The doors will be opened at 6:30 pm.

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Will there be a break during the workshops?
We are not planning a formal break during the workshops; participants can take individual breaks as necessary.

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Will refreshments be served?
Yes, beverages and light snacks like cookies will be served. If you would like something more substantial you are welcome to bring your own food.

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Can I bring my own food?
Yes, you can bring your own food. Keep in mind that we will not have formal breaks scheduled during the workshops, so you may want to come early if you plan to eat. The doors will open at 6:30. If you prefer to eat beforehand, click here for a list of restaurants near the Opera House.   

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What should I wear?
Since the workshops will be interactive, you should wear comfortable clothes.

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Who is conducting the workshops?
The San Francisco Opera Education Department is conducting these workshops in collaboration with various presenters associated with the Company.  Please see the Session Descriptions and Advance Reading Material section above for detailed presenter information (including bios) for each session.

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La Traviata Production Photo: Rozarii Lynch/Seattle Opera
Chorus photo by Terrence McCarthy.
Madame Butterfly Production Photo: Tim Matheson/Vancouver Opera.