San Francisco Opera Guild Inaugurates 80th Anniversary with Marchesa Fashion Show and Announcement of Opera Ball 2019: The Capulets' Masked Ball

Release date: 5/30/2019    


Opera Ball Co-Chairs Elizabeth Birka-White and Jane Mudge with Opera Guild President Mary Poland Unveil Details for Masquerade Gala, Inspired by Charles Gounod's Romeo and Juliet, Celebrating San Francisco Opera's New Season Opening September 6, 2019

Opera Ball 2019 and SFOG 80th season.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Guild launched its 80th season celebrations on Thursday, May 16, with Marchesa, a fashion show featuring the Marchesa Fall 2019 collection, at Neiman Marcus Union Square in San Francisco. A prominent event of the new anniversary season will be Opera Ball, one of the premier philanthropic events on the West Coast. Presented in partnership with San Francisco Opera, Opera Ball 2019: The Capulets’ Masked Ball will celebrate the opening of San Francisco Opera’s 97th Season on September 6 with a festive evening featuring dinner, a masquerade ball and the opening night performance of Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. The co-chairs for Opera Ball 2019 are Elizabeth Birka-White and Jane Mudge. Honorary chairs for the event are John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn and Diane B. Wilsey.

The May 16 Marchesa fashion show, presented by the Opera Guild and Neiman Marcus Union Square, took place at the landmark store in the heart of San Francisco’s downtown district and featured a special appearance by Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. Co-chairs for the event were Francesca Amann, Maya Meux and Toni Wolfson. San Francisco Opera Guild President Mary Poland and her husband, Bill Poland, sponsored the sold-out fashion show, which was attended by 210 guests.

Mary Poland said: “In 1939, San Francisco Opera Guild was formed by 12 women who, by raising the necessary funds to underwrite a student matinee performance of Madama Butterfly, set into motion an organization committed to bringing the experience of opera to everyone. Today, the Guild is a diverse group of professionals driven by that same mission. Our education programs influence the lives of 50,000 Northern California children every year, and our events such as Marchesa, Opera Ball and An Evening on the Stage, which punctuate the musical and philanthropic seasons in San Francisco, support San Francisco Opera. This anniversary season we relish the opportunity to look back on past accomplishments, but we also view the Guild’s eight decades of doing this important work as a mandate to continue and expand our impact within the community.”

The marquee event of the Opera Guild’s 80th season celebrations is Opera Ball 2019: The Capulets’ Masked Ball. On September 6, beginning at 5 p.m. in the foyer of the Beaux Arts-designed War Memorial Opera House, masked guests will gather for a festive cocktail reception. The masqueraders will then parade to a tented pavilion at 6 p.m. for an elegant dinner by McCalls Catering & Events. Inspired by the Italian gardens of Verona where William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Gounod’s French opera both take place, event designer J. Riccardo Benavideswill create an outdoor setting inside the pavilion. Following dinner, the 750 Opera Ball patrons will return to the Opera House for the 8 p.m. curtain of Romeo and Juliet, Gounod’s romantic masterpiece featuring tenor Bryan Hymel and soprano Nadine Sierra as the young lovers. The Capulets’ Masked Ball will continue after the opera in the pavilion with cocktails, sweet and savory bites and dancing. Additional Opera Ball 2019 details will be announced later.

Opera Ball 2019 co-chairs Elizabeth Birka-White and Jane Mudge said: "Opera Ball is a long-standing celebration of each new season of thrilling Opera performances. We are honored to co-chair the Ball this year, the 80th Anniversary of San Francisco Opera Guild. In working on the creative concept for the Ball, it is our wish that guests experience the celebratory spirit of our anniversary. Bring your masks and enjoy an unforgettable evening of elegance, excitement and mystery."

Opera Ball brings together local and national corporate, political, civic and charitable leaders all committed to the cause of music education and the transformative experiences San Francisco Opera presents on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. Proceeds benefit the community initiatives and education programs of the Opera Guild which reach 50,000 students in 200 classrooms around Northern California each year.

San Francisco Opera’s 2019–20 Season opens September 6 with Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. Distinguished by rapturous duets and brilliant, show-stopping arias, the romantic French work returns to the repertory of San Francisco Opera after a 31-year hiatus in the acclaimed staging by Opéra de Monte-Carlo Director Jean-Louis Grinda. French-Canadian conductor Yves Abel leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and a cast headed by Bryan Hymel and Nadine Sierra, with baritone Lucas Meachem as Mercutio and tenor Daniel Montenegro as Tybalt. Romeo and Juliet will be presented in seven performances between September 6 and October 1.

For more information about San Francisco Opera Guild’s 80th season, visit

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