November 30 An Evening on the Stage Benefit Honors The Littlefield Family

Release date: 12/2/2021


 San Francisco Opera Guild's Annual Event Held on the War Memorial Opera House Stage Amid the Setting for Così fan tutte

$200K Gift from Denise Littlefield Sobel to San Francisco Opera's Department of Diversity, Equity and Community Announced

Guild_An Evening on the Stage 2021.pdf  Photos

Now in its eighth year, the annual An Evening on the Stage gala dinner honored The Littlefield Family Tuesday evening, November 30. The Littlefield Family has supported San Francisco Opera for multiple generations beginning with the late Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, whose historic $35 million gift to the Company in 2006 was at the time the largest gift to an American opera company from a single individual.

Denise Littlefield Sobel, like her mother, is an ardent arts supporter and philanthropic leader and continues the family’s dedication to San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild as a major sponsor and contributor. On behalf of the Littlefield family, Sobel accepted San Francisco Opera Guild’s 2021 Crescendo Award at the event.

During his remarks, San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock announced a new $200,000 gift from Sobel in support of the Company’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Community (DEC). This transformational investment will help underwrite the DEC staff members at the Opera, whose work oversees diversity, equity and inclusion within the Company and its education programs. The gift will also help underwrite the Company’s new Open Opera Project, a company-wide, year-long initiative in partnership with Accordant Advisors to shape DEI goals and objectives for the next phase of this ongoing work.

The sold-out benefit—presented by San Francisco Opera Guild under President Maryam Muduroglu—offered 250 guests the opportunity to dine on the War Memorial Opera House stage, surrounded by sets from the Company’s critically acclaimed new production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Così fan tutte, currently running through December 3.

Co-chaired by Karen J. Kubin (past president of the Opera Guild and a member of San Francisco Opera’s board of directors) and Victoria Weatherford (San Francisco Opera Guild Vice-President, Administration), An Evening on the Stage included a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. in the War Memorial Opera House foyer, followed by dinner and live music on the Opera House stage.

Musical guests included Ed Littlefield Jr., Jeannik Méquet Littlefield’s son, on vocals and guitar; 15-year-old San Francisco Opera Guild Opera Scout (mezzo-soprano) Amarech Mendez; San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Timothy Murray (baritone)and Simone McIntosh (mezzo-soprano); and pianists John-Elliott Kirk and Adler Fellow Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad performing selections from Cendrillon, Don Giovanni and Hamlet; songs from Anastasia and South Pacific; “La Vie en Rose”; and a medley of French folk songs. San Francisco-based ensemble The Dick Bright Orchestra provided the music for the dance floor.

Event stylist and frequent Opera Ball designer J. Riccardo Benavides reunited with San Francisco Opera Guild for this event, and the San Francisco-based McCalls Catering & Events returned to create a sumptuous dinner. Inside the Opera House auditorium, attendees traversed a bridge placed across the orchestra pit to enter the 1930s Wolfbridge Country Club setting for Così fan tutte. The evening took place with comprehensive COVID-19 safety protocols including reduced capacity for the protection of guests, musicians and vendors, and mandated vaccination requirements.

Tickets for the sold-out An Evening on the Stage event were $1,250 at the patron level, $2,500 at the benefactor level, $5,000 at the grand benefactor level, and $10,000 at the great benefactor level. Proceeds benefit San Francisco Opera Guild’s award-winning education and community engagement programs, which reach over 64,000 students in over 200 Bay Area schools. For more information about San Francisco Opera Guild and its programming, please visit

Previous Evening on the Stage honorees include Charlotte Mailliard Shultz; Diane B. Wilsey; Gordon Getty; Franklin P. (Pitch) Johnson, Jr.; Dianne and Tad Taube; John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn; and Carol and Dixon Doll.

An Evening on the Stage is made possible through the generous support of presenting sponsor Neiman Marcus Union Square and additional support from Accenture, TriplePoint Capital and Wilkes Bashford; wine sponsors Castellucci Napa Valley and JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset; sparkling wine sponsor Roederer Estate; and media sponsors Haute Living San Francisco and Nob Hill Gazette. Special thanks to Drew Altizer Photography, Soirée Valet and The Dick Bright Orchestra.


Jeannik Méquet Littlefield met her husband, Edmund Wattis Littlefield, while working as a writer and translator in Washington D.C. in 1944. After the war, the couple moved to California, and Mr. Littlefield joined his family’s firm, Utah Construction Company, and eventually became its CEO, leading one of the largest mining and construction companies in the country. In 1976, the company merged with the General Electric Company. A dedicated opera enthusiast, Mrs. Littlefield served as a board member of San Francisco Opera from 1977 to 1992 and was also a supporter of San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Ballet. Following her husband’s death in 2001, Mrs. Littlefield renewed her connection with San Francisco Opera and sponsored numerous productions. Her 2006 pledge of $35 million to the Company was the largest donation from an individual to an American opera company at that time. She was also an ongoing advocate of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, French American International School, Wells College and Mills College. She passed away in 2013 and is survived by her daughter, Denise Littlefield Sobel, a son, Edmund Wattis Littlefield, Jr., and his wife, Mary Wallace, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her second son, Jacques Méquet Littlefield, passed away in 2009. Denise Littlefield Sobel is a philanthropist who shares her family’s long-standing passion for education in the visual and performing arts. Sobel recently increased her support of San Francisco Opera with a new $200,000 gift to the Company’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Community, which she supported with a commitment of $250,000 in 2019 when the department was established.

*For the complete press release please view the attached PDF.