As the lutenist in San Francisco Opera’s 2011 production of Xerxes, I play not only an unusual role in the orchestra, but also a number of unusual instruments not well known to many opera goers. While the traditional opera repertory is not often thought of as utilizing improvisation, baroque music has a rich history of it. Nowhere is this truer than in this production of Xerxes where the harpsichord and I make up what could essentially be called the rhythm section of the orchestra. We play from a bass line, much like what a cellist uses, but we have figured bass (numbers under the bass notes which tell us which harmonies to play) added to our parts. Similar to how a jazz pianist might accompany a song, both the harpsichord the lute family instruments play the harmony, which is improvised in keeping with musical content of the composer.
Posted: 11/05/2011 by Michael Leopold (Theorbo, Arch Lute and Baroque Guitar, Xerxes)


As I teach libretto writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, I’ve been asked what lessons I would draw for my own students from "Heart of a Soldier".
 
Since my approach to writing has always been structural, I chose three moments in the first act as formal examples of how to adapt and make dramatic a work of journalism, as well as the very structure of the act and the reaction to the opera as a whole.
Posted: 09/30/2011 by Donna Di Novelli (Librettist, Heart of a Soldier)


Besides reading and re-reading the book Heart of a Soldier by James B. Stewart, I took inspiration from a variety of other sources. Here are just some of the additional works that lent their weight as I wrote the libretto.

 

 

 

Posted: 09/12/2011 by Donna Di Novelli (Librettist, Heart of a Soldier)


Today, we presented our annual Opera in the Park concert as a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, along with Music Director Nicola Luisotti and four Adler Fellow soloists performed Mozart's Requiem Mass, interspersed with meditational texts read by members of the San Francisco Interfaith Council. Included below are the various readings and prayers which were included in the event.

Posted: 09/11/2011 by San Francisco Interfaith Council


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Introduction

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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