Opera Blog

July 5, 2020

Creativity amidst Adversity

Happy July 4th Weekend! I hope that you are staying well and that you have been able to enjoy a festive weekend. I hope that you’ll tune in tonight at 8pm to Classical KDFC for our Broadway edition of The Opera Hour. President of KDFC Bill Lueth and I will explore the operatic side of Broadway in this holiday-weekend festival of song!

July 3, 2020

Susannah and Sam Polk Speak: An Interview with Patricia Racette and Brandon Jovanovich

The San Francisco Opera premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah on September 6, 2014 was one of those big nights. The opera had been performed in the House before in 1967 by the affiliated yet separate Spring Opera Theater Company (with the composer-librettist himself also acting as stage director), but even as she racked up hundreds of performances worldwide, Susannah had to wait another five decades for a return.

July 1, 2020

American Icon: Carlisle Floyd Talks About Life and Opera

On February 24, 1955, when the final curtain came down on the world premiere of Susannah, Carlisle Floyd’s life changed forever. Until then, the young pianist and assistant professor at Florida State University had no plans to devote himself to composing operas. But, with that moment, the disparate influences and events of his life came together to make his destiny impossible to ignore.

June 30, 2020

Leveling the Playing Field: An Interview with Baritone Sidney Outlaw

It was a lot to handle. The summer heat. The coronavirus pandemic. The police brutality. The killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people. Baritone Sidney Outlaw says he even told his management he wanted to be a recluse for a while, lying low so he could study in peace.

June 29, 2020

Innocence and Experience in Carlisle Floyd’s SUSANNAH

“The triumph of one human being over the depredations and moral pressure of a community is a wonderful source of drama, and the destruction of innocence is as heartbreaking a theme as we have to deal with.” —Carlisle Floyd

June 26, 2020

Fate, Feminism, and Physics: In Conversation with Sheri Greenawald

If you Google “Sheri Greenawald Manon” you’ll come across an LA Times review written by Martin Bernheimer following Greenawald’s 1986 performance at San Francisco Opera.

June 23, 2020

“Manon, it has to be Manon!”

On January 19, 1884, when Jules Massenet’s Manon was heard for the first time on the stage of Paris’ Opéra- Comique, there were no other French composers in contention for leadership of the lyric stage. Charles Gounod had not had a success since Roméo et Juliette in 1867; Ambroise Thomas’ glory, with Mignon and Hamlet, was nearly 20 years behind him; Georges Bizet was dead; Camille Saint- Saëns had had a recent success with Henry VIII but was still hoping to see Samson et Dalila staged in France; Édouard Lalo had two operas, Fiesque and Le Roi d’Ys, awaiting performance; Claude Debussy was still a student at the Conservatoire.

June 19, 2020

Pistols and Falling Dresses: One Violinist’s Adventures On Stage

Theirs are the closest seats to the stage — and yet, down in the recess of an orchestra pit, musicians rarely share the same spotlight that stage performers do. Leonid “Leon” Igudesman has bridged that divide, though. In his nearly 40 years at San Francisco Opera, the Russian-born violinist has performed alongside some of opera’s greatest voices, starring in marquee productions at the War Memorial Opera House stage.

June 19, 2020

An Ode to the Explosive Joy of ‘Operagasms’

I rarely talk about opera at work (or at least, it seems that way to me), partly because there’s nothing operatic about the job I do. My job title describes me as a support services coordinator, but much of my day is spent weaving in and out of the offices at San Francisco Opera, delivering mail, delivering office supplies, delivering messages. There’s no reason to take up the bandwidth of people whose jobs are all about opera.

June 19, 2020

The Legend of Persephone the Opera Pig

Move over, Peppa Pig. Long before Peppa was the toast of children’s TV, there was another porcine queen of entertainment: Persephone the Pig. In the 1970s, Persephone briefly became San Francisco Opera’s resident piglet. That’s because she had a powerful friend in one of the company’s most legendary figures: Kurt Herbert Adler.

June 19, 2020

From Hollywood to the Pit: Flutist Stephanie McNab on Her Journey to San Francisco Opera

Late at night, when her home is finally quiet, she can bring out her flute to practice. School has ended and, with it, the challenge of distance-learning in the time of the coronavirus quarantine.

June 17, 2020

Maria Jeritza: “Prima donna of the Century” and San Francisco Opera’s First Salome

When Maria Jeritza died in 1982, her obituary in the New York Times noted, almost parenthetically, that her second marriage, to Hollywood film executive Winfield Sheehan in 1935, “brought her a lavish estate in Beverly Hills, with a dining room that seated 182.” Few would have batted an eye. After all, that was only to be expected of the woman who was widely regarded as “the Prima Donna of the Century.”

June 15, 2020

Strauss Dances to the Abyss

Like the moon that features so prominently in its mise-enscène, Salome seems to reflect what its beholders are predisposed to find. The opera, variously praised and vilified, has been singled out for the sensual beauty and the aggressive brutality of its score alike. Overwrought sugary sweetness or acid-tinged dissonance? Take your pick. Where some find an artistically prophetic case study in modern neurosis, steeped in the Freudian Zeitgeist, others decry a luridly sensationalist glorification of depravity or a catalog of Orientalist clichés, cunningly repackaged.

June 10, 2020

End of the Line: Thoughts on Puccini’s Il Trittico at San Francisco Opera

It had been a tuneful 100 years. There were great operas, thankfully, before and after, in many nations, but from the premiere of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in 1816, to Puccini’s last completed work, his 1918 experimental trio of one act operas, Il Trittico, Italian opera enjoyed an abundant repertoire, an audience hungry for new works, and a scale of popularity it would never see again. 

June 10, 2020

A Cloak of Happiness and Sorrow: Puccini’s Glorious Triptych

Critics have often carped at Giacomo Puccini’s skill as a composer. Il Trittico, his 1918 triptych of operas, is an ingenious riposte to his detractors. Tragedy, melodrama, and ribald (black) humor are presented across three entirely separate works. Over three hours of music, we see and hear violence, lust, sentimentality, personal conviction, greed, and one-upmanship. But for many the operas are perplexing: Why have three? Why present themtogether in the same evening?

June 8, 2020

At the Intersection of Opera and Drag, Artists Look to the Future

Hers was the typical opera success story. A young mezzo-soprano with big dreams, she left her native Moscow to apprentice as a young artist in Paris, and there she had her lucky break. It was opening night at the Opera Garnier. Carmen was on the bill. And the performer in the title role? Indisposed after a run-in with a bus.

June 8, 2020

Talking Pride with Mezzo-Soprano Jamie Barton

The cancellations decimated her calendar. Suddenly there were no concerts. No operas. No in-person engagements at all through the end of August. The coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent need for social isolation, had claimed them all.

June 8, 2020

Memories of José Sarria: Where Opera Meets Activism

He was Carmen. Aida. Marguerite. Madama Butterfly. And one of the pioneering figures in America’s struggle for LGBTQ rights. The late José Julio Sarria toppled barriers with his historic run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first known openly gay man to run for public office.

May 27, 2020

Secrets & Masks Bel Canto as Drama in Lucrezia Borgia

The premiere of Lucrezia Borgia on December 26, 1833 came at a crucial period in the thirty-six-year-old Gaetano Donizetti’s career. Although he had already accumulated substantial experience writing for the stage—by this point his complete list of operas, including incomplete and unperformed scores, tallied more than forty—the composer was riding the crest of fame that had really begun with the success of his “lyrical tragedy” Anna Bolena three years earlier.

May 27, 2020

Profile: Gaetano Maria Donizetti

Born on November 29, 1797 in Bergamo and baptized Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti, the future composer was the fifth of six siblings. In 1806, Donizetti was admitted to the music school in Bergamo. There, he was guided by Giovanni Simone Mayr, the distinguished Bavarian composer famous for his operas throughout Italy.

May 25, 2020

Director’s Note: Lucrezia Borgia – A Story of Love and the Misogyny of History

To understand the emotions behind the dramatic story line of Lucrezia Borgia, I feel that it is vital to bear in mind the social and historical background of the characters. Despite the fact that Lucrezia Borgia has been known primarily as a beautiful poisoner, there is an excellent case for viewing her as more victim than villain.

May 19, 2020

Chasing a Dark November

Novelist Gustav Flaubert famously claimed, “Madame Bovary contains nothing of my life ... It is one of my principles that you must not write yourself. The artist ought to be in his work like God in his creation, invisible and omnipotent.” It’s one of the big questions of the relevance of art in this age of saturation: can one separate the created from the creator or, more seriously, is there an audience for an artistic work simply because of its existence, and not merely for the level of celebrity surrounding it?

May 19, 2020

Director Leonard Foglia on Moby-Dick

Hear from Moby-Dick director Leonard Foglia as he shares how Moby-Dick came to be and provides insight into the creative process.

May 19, 2020

From Page to Stage: An Interview with Moby-Dick Librettist Gene Scheer

The challenge of turning Moby-Dick, one of the great classics of the English language, into an opera would have struck most librettists as Herculean. But for Gene Scheer, the effort was decidedly more Shakespearean.

May 19, 2020

Composing Moby-Dick

The creation of this opera began in early 2005, when the Dallas Opera contacted me about composing a new work as part of the inaugural season at the Winspear Opera House in 2010. At the time, I was at work on a piece with playwright Terrence McNally. He had been the librettist for our opera Dead Man Walking (2000) and we had been on the lookout for another big project. When I asked Terrence what he thought, he said “There’s only one opera I’m interested in doing: Moby-Dick.”

May 15, 2020

Transformation in Song and Ink: How tattooing brought tenors Amitai and Pene Pati closer to home

The idea first crossed his mind when he was 7. It was hard not to notice the massive tattoos that his uncle and other family members wore, darkening the skin from their waist down to their knees.

May 15, 2020

Bats vs. Batons: Are Opera Fans and Baseball Fans Really All That Different?

The fans are on their feet, cheering and whistling. You shout and clap along with everyone else, swept up in the sights and sounds, the rush of excitement. Are you at an opera performance or a baseball game?

May 15, 2020

The Soundtrack of Togetherness

My life is loud. Most years I spend several months in the San Francisco Opera pit and the rest of my time managing a family of four. When my boys are in school and I’m not rehearsing or practicing, I revel in the silence of an empty house.

May 15, 2020

At the Height of the Cold War, a Soviet Star Wins American Admiration

For its 50th anniversary in 1972, San Francisco Opera went big. General director Kurt Herbert Adler assembled an opera-lover’s dream season in which Birgit Nilsson headlining three cycles of the Ring was just one of many irresistible offerings. Festivities began on September 15 with a new production of Norma starring renowned Australian diva Joan Sutherland. The next night, Kiri Te Kanawa was introduced as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, the first of many happy returns for the Kiwi soprano.

May 12, 2020

Eleven Great Soprano / Mezzo-Soprano Duets

Vincenzo Bellini’s The Capulets and the Montagues is best known for Giulietta’s aria, “O quante volte.” This vocal showpiece, gorgeous as it is, is not the beating heart that sustains this opera. That duty is reserved for the extraordinary duets Bellini wrote for Romeo, played by a mezzo-soprano, and Giulietta, a soprano.

May 12, 2020

Director’s Note for The Capulets and the Montagues

Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi is possibly the shortest and most striking version of the story of the lovers of Verona. Bellini’s libretto was not inspired by Shakespeare, but by the source material that Shakespeare used. The spirit of the piece is more about the nineteenth-century obsessions of a young Italian composer than about any Elizabethan ghosts, and it is well known that Bellini composed the opera in a very short time for the Venice Carnival.

May 11, 2020

Fateful & Fragile Love: Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi

When Vincenzo Bellini arrived in Venice in mid-December 1829 to oversee La Fenice’s production of his 1827 Milan hit Il Pirata, he may still have been smarting from the recent drubbing administered to Zaira, his rather hastily-conceived opera that had been the young composer’s first out-and-out flop. An anonymous handbill had shown up on the streets of Parma immediately following Zaira’s premiere at the new Teatro Ducale: “anyone who finds the musical inspiration of signor Bellini is besought to take it to the box office of signor Bandini, the impresario, and he will be treated courteously.” That must have hurt.

May 7, 2020

Notes on 'Mephistopheles'

"Mefistofeleles is as old as the Bible and Aeschylus. Mefistofele is the serpent in the Garden of Eden; he is the vulture of Prometheus. Mefistofele is the doubt that generates learning, the evil that generates good. Wherever the spirit of negation is to be found, there is Mefistofele. Job has a Mefistofele called Satan; Homer has one called Thersites; Shakespeare has another called Falsta. Goethe’s original inspiration lies in forming a single type from these three: one who is as hellish as Satan, as grotesque as Thersites, as epi-curean as Falsta. Mefistofele is the embodiment of the eternal No addressed to the True, the Beautiful and the Good.”

May 1, 2020

On This Day, A Mozart Masterpiece Premiered

A thin little man settled in the conductor’s seat behind the keyboard, preparing to lead the orchestra in a premiere of his newest work. It was May 1, 1786, and the world was about to hear, for the very first time, a collaboration that would redefine opera: composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s masterpiece, The Marriage of Figaro.

May 1, 2020

Catch Up with 'Mephistopheles' Director Robert Carsen

As a child, Robert Carsen dreamed of being an actor — but soon he found himself drawn into a different world, one that lies beyond the curtains, hidden to average theater-goer. He had the instinct for directing. And as a result, opera theaters around the world now play host to his visions, from New York to Paris and beyond.

April 25, 2020

Backstage with Matthew: Behind the Mask

We are a company that excels in solving complex problems in the theater, and it is so heartening to see that same creative urge shaping the Company’s response to the virus. We recently were able to make a large donation of personal protective equipment to UCSF from the Opera’s supplies, and our Costume Shop has been creating masks for the Bay Area’s community of hospitals and first responders.

April 14, 2020

How Kirsten Flagstad Saved Opera

In the early 1930s, the future of opera in America was in serious doubt. The threat then was not a global pandemic, but it was very real, endangering two fundamental ingredients for the art form: audience interest and money.

April 14, 2020

The Glory of Being the Middle Dog

Everyone wants to be top dog. Our collective image of the “top dog” is someone who excels in a given field and who therefore reaps the rewards: the plushest bed, the meatiest bone. But succeeding at any goal requires work: You practice, question your sanity, practice more, succeed at an interim goal, rage, rage against your shortcomings, practice more and finally take an incremental step forward.

April 14, 2020

Let Opera Librarian Michael Bragg Guide You Through His Favorite Tunes

When San Francisco Opera approached its opera librarian, tenor Michael Bragg, to put together a Spotify playlist of all his favorite tunes, he came back with a marvel: a curated playlist featuring the stars of our 2020-21 season, with in-depth explanations about why each track shines.

April 14, 2020

A Page from the Past, Informing the Present

As more and more of the world is impacted by the coronavirus and the need to self-isolate, San Francisco Opera reached out to its staff for updates about what they’re doing in this time of quarantine. Composer and San Francisco Opera Orchestra double-bassist Shinji Eshima sent in this update, about how a spring cleaning led him to a curious artifact: a program-book page that connects his past and present.

April 9, 2020

From Muni to the War Memorial…Memories from an operatic childhood

It was a foggy day in San Francisco (shocking!) and I had just handed my third-grade teacher a note reminding her that I had to leave school early. I exited Jefferson Elementary School in the Sunset District and made my way to the N Judah Muni stop. I carefully reviewed my mother’s hand-drawn map to ensure the train I was about to board would take me the right way.

March 22, 2020

Backstage with Matthew: Weathering the Crisis

We are coming up on the end of our first week of “remote” San Francisco Opera. For the first time I think in our history we have been spread to all corners of the Bay Area and are without a fixed place to gather.

March 5, 2020

Backstage with Matthew: Essential Preparation

In about eight weeks, we will welcome an exciting group of singers, conductors, and creative teams to San Francisco to begin rehearsals for our summer season.

February 28, 2020 Ernani

Power and passion: Tenor Russell Thomas dishes on Verdi’s ‘Ernani’ and the future of opera

It all started at age eight, with a young boy twiddling the radio dial, fatefully landing on a station that played opera. That moment of discovery, of bliss, of clarity and direction, led tenor Russell Thomas to pursue a career on some of the world’s greatest opera stages, his voice — by turns soft and earth-trembling — winning him legions of fans.

Inside the mind of ‘Steve Jobs’ star Sasha Cooke

She didn’t need to audition. She was simply asked. That’s how Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke landed the role of Laurene Powell Jobs in the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, itself a Grammy winner for Best Opera Recording.

February 1, 2020 The Handmaid's Tale

Where Opera Meets Illustration: An Interview with Shawna X

When announcing its 2020–21 Season, San Francisco Opera faced a dilemma: how to illustrate productions that were entirely new to the American stage.

That’s when we turned to visual artist Shawna X, whose illustrations brought splashes of color to the pages of The New Yorker and New York Magazine—not to mention her work for international brands like Adidas and Warby Parker.

January 26, 2020 Fidelio

Backstage with Matthew: Lifting the veil on a new production

I was so proud to unveil the 2020-21 Season of San Francisco Opera on Wednesday, a season that blends thrilling new productions with exquisite presentations of some of the great core classics. It is a season heavily rooted in our artistic philosophy to tell stories that reflect our community, and one of the exciting manifestations of that will be a brand-new production of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, in the opening weekend of the season.

December 20, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Backstage with Matthew: A dash of holiday magic

As we come to the close of another great year of opera on the War Memorial stage, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for all that you do to support world-class opera in the Bay Area. I have been so proud of the artistry we have shared together over the past year, and the thrilling appointment of Eun Sun Kim as our next Music Director was the most joyful way to close out the year.

December 18, 2019 The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Meet Mason Bates, the composer behind the turntable

There’s a degree of mystique surrounding the combination of unlike things — and composer Mason Bates’ fusion of classical music and electronica is no exception. It’s a recipe that’s won him acclaim and even a Grammy: His opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, nabbed the 2019 prize for best opera recording.

December 18, 2019

San Francisco Opera staff partner with Violins of Hope, Strings of the Holocaust, for music series from January 16 – March 15

For eight weeks beginning January 16, 2020, the San Francisco Bay Area will play host to the Violins of Hope, a collection of string instruments once played by Jewish prisoner-musicians in World War II-era ghettos and concentration camps.

December 6, 2019

Backstage with Matthew: The start of a thrilling new chapter

On Thursday I had the great honor of announcing our new music director at San Francisco Opera: Eun Sun Kim! It was, and will remain, one of the proudest moments of my career. 

November 26, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Meet San Francisco Opera’s original Gretel, Queena Mario

Of the five seasons Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel has been performed on the San Francisco Opera stage, three featured a familiar face: that of popular American opera singer Queena Mario.

November 26, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Inside the dangerous delicacies of ‘HANSEL AND GRETEL’

It’s the sugar-coated bait in the wicked witch’s trap: candy, confections, and cakes, all tantalizingly prepared and decorated for each production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

November 14, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Backstage with Matthew: The intertwining of history and fairy tales

As we open the curtain on a charming new coproduction of the fairy-tale opera Hansel and Gretel, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the overall production design, and learn about the inspirations used by director/designer Antony McDonald in creating the production.

October 31, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Backstage with Matthew: Into the Woods

On November 15th we raise the curtain on a new production of Hansel and Gretel — one of the most charming, heartfelt and nostalgic operas in the repertoire. A work of sumptuous orchestration, soaring melodies and a fantastical world that appeals to adults and children alike. 

October 28, 2019 Manon Lescaut

MEET ‘MANON LESCAUT’ DIRECTOR OLIVIER TAMBOSI

When director Olivier Tambosi’s production of Manon Lescaut first arrived in San Francisco in 2006, critics hailed it as “the best Puccini in years.” Now, 13 years later, the acclaimed production returns, with role debuts for two of opera’s most formidable stars: soprano Lianna Haroutounian and tenor Brian Jagde.

October 28, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ROBERT BRUBAKER, THE WITCH IN ‘HANSEL AND GRETEL’

Fresh from his high-seas adventure this September in Billy Budd, tenor Robert Brubaker returns to the San Francisco Opera stage, starring this time as the cackling, Hitchcockian witch in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

October 15, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

Backstage with Matthew: The Music of Conversation

It has been such a joy to open our brand new production of The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, the beginning of our new trilogy of Mozart-Da Ponte operas to be rolled out over the course of three seasons. I am so proud of the creative energy of the company, conceiving, building and performing something so beautiful and humanistic.

October 3, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

Backstage with Matthew: The Form, Function and Fichus of Figaro Fashion

With opening night of The Marriage of Figaro just around the corner on October 11, rehearsals are well underway on stage for this exciting new production, ushering in a brand-new trilogy of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas at San Francisco Opera. This new production, directed by Michael Cavanagh and designed by Erhard Rom (scenery), Constance Hoffman (costumes) and Jane Cox (lighting), will be a beautiful and fascinating new take on one of the most beloved operas in the repertoire.

September 30, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ‘FIGARO’S’ JEANINE DE BIQUE

She is a former UNESCO youth ambassador. A headliner at the BBC Proms concerts. An internationally acclaimed opera singer with a cameo on the high-concept Netflix series The OA to her name.

And now soprano Jeanine De Bique has arrived in San Francisco to take on her latest challenge: headlining the start of San Francisco Opera’s Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy.

September 25, 2019 Romeo & Juliet

JULIET VERSUS THE ARIA: SOPRANO AMINA EDRIS TACKLES THE INFAMOUS ‘POISON’ ARIA

Tuesday, October 1, marks not only the final performance of San Francisco Opera’s 2019 Romeo and Juliet but also an important role debut for a rising star: New Zealand soprano Amina Edris.

September 19, 2019 Romeo & Juliet

Backstage with Matthew: To pronate or to supinate?

Our opening opera of Romeo and Juliet is such an intensely lyrical, romantic work, focused heavily on the journey of our two famous lovers from their star-crossed meeting to their tragic deaths. Four great duets punctuate the opera as we surge from one emotional high to the next. But surrounding the soaring romance is a world of politics, feuds, vengeance and … the sword. 

September 5, 2019 Billy Budd

Backstage with Matthew: Taking to the high seas

This week we open an extraordinary production new to the San Francisco Opera stage – Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd, based on the novella by Herman Melville of the same name. It has been 15 years since we have had any Britten on the War Memorial stage, and I am so excited for its return.

August 22, 2019

Backstage with Matthew: Backstage on the Road

In the brief weeks between our summer and fall seasons, a few of us at the Opera take to the road to hear singers, see productions, meet with colleagues at other companies, and connect with the broader world of Opera. This year we started rehearsals for the fall season very early on July 28. Though it’s been a lighter summer of travel than usual, it has still been important to squeeze in little trips where possible!

August 15, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

Backstage with Matthew: A House Built for the Ages

On October 11th we will raise the curtain on a brand-new production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, beginning an exciting three-season journey through the operas Mozart wrote with the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. In a unique approach, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni will be produced on a shared set, but a set that evolves through time.

July 25, 2019 Rusalka

Backstage with Matthew: Emerging from the Depths

As I reflect back on our 2018-19 season, I am so grateful for the amazing artistic journeys that we went on together this past year. One of the most deeply impactful for so many of us was Rusalka and I wanted to close out the summer with another glimpse of one of the many elements that came together so perfectly in this glorious production. Back in May we explored the crafts of Rusalka. This time we descend into the watery depths to explore the elevators that allowed characters to emerge so effortlessly through the water.

July 24, 2019 If I Were You

Jake Heggie debuts new work with Merola Opera Program

He’s a local talent renowned for bringing original work to San Francisco’s stages — and now he’s back with a brand-new work, tailor-made for the Merola Opera Program.

June 18, 2019 Carmen

Backstage with Matthew: Entering in Style

To quote Shakespeare, “all men and women...have their exits and entrances” but it has to be said that not all entrances are created equally. As we continue our run of Carmen, I’ve had many questions about the entrance of Escamillo and the four-footed friend on which he arrives and departs. I thought it was time to share with you the story of Drogen, our equine show-stealer in Carmen.

June 7, 2019 Orlando

Backstage with Matthew: Inside the Mind of Orlando

It’s a very exciting time at San Francisco Opera. This summer we welcome three beautiful, impactful productions to the stage, and in this edition of Backstage with Matthew I wanted to delve into the dramatic world of Handel’s Orlando, the particularly forward-looking Baroque opera that we are bringing back to San Francisco after 34 years.

May 16, 2019 Rusalka

Backstage with Matthew: The weird and wonderful crafts in Rusalka

It’s thrilling to be back in rehearsals at the Opera! Last week we welcomed a fantastic group of artists to the Opera as we prepare for our three summer operas. I am so excited for what is ahead of us: a sultry, evocative production of Carmen, a deeply insightful, exquisitely beautiful Orlando and a spectacular production of Dvořák’s opera Rusalka.

May 1, 2019

San Francisco Opera Pays Tribute to Paris at Solidarity Concert

In a cathedral lit in the colors of the French flag, artists and musicians from around the Bay Area came together to pay tribute to San Francisco’s sister city, Paris, and the tragedy that befell it on April 15.

May 1, 2019 Carmen

From Basement Performances to Broadway, Francesca Zambello Traces Her Journey

For Carmen director Francesca Zambello, the key is to start small. That’s how she built her own career. Though her work now graces the stages of the West End and Broadway, her directorial debut took place in the humblest of venues — her parents’ basement.

April 8, 2019

National Pet Day 2019

Behind the scenes at San Francisco Opera, there are tons of talented professionals who keep everything running smoothly. And there are also tons of talented, demanding, adorable pets whose job it is to keep those humans in line! In honor of National Pet Day, we’d like to introduce you to some of our animal friends. Enjoy!

April 3, 2019 Rusalka

SPOTLIGHT ON ‘Rusalka’ star Rachel Willis-Sørensen

As a child, Rusalka star Rachel Willis-Sørensen loved the Disney film The Little Mermaid. She loved it so much that she would sing along with the heroine Ariel, whose voice enraptures the human prince she hopes to marry.

March 5, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

Backstage with Matthew: The Art and Science of Fabrics

In the last edition of Backstage with Matthew, we delved into the pre-construction process for the scenic designs of our brand new production of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas. This is the beginning of a three-year journey through three of the most humanistic, emotionally perceptive operas ever written: The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni, all directed by Michael Cavanagh.

‘Steve Jobs’ reigns supreme at the 2019 Grammys

Our co-production The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs won big at the 2019 Grammys. It nabbed top honors in the Best Opera Recording category, beating heavyweight contenders like John Adams’ Doctor Atomic and the Metropolitan Opera’s recording of Der Rosenkavalier.

March 1, 2019 Carmen

J’Nai Bridges Brings the Sizzle in Carmen Debut

J’Nai Bridges was at a crossroads. As a high-schooler, she juggled her passions as best as she could, but now university was beckoning, and she had a choice to make: Should she pursue her passion for basketball or her love of singing?

January 31, 2019 The Marriage of Figaro

Backstage with Matthew: Crafting the Blueprints of Opera

It is always such a joy to launch a new year with a new season announcement, and I hope that you’ve had a chance to explore the varied offerings of the 2019–20 season. One of the most exciting for me is the inception of a new Mozart trilogy, composed of the operas he wrote with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte—The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte, and Don Giovanni.

December 21, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Reflections

What an incredible year of opera we have just experienced!

It all began on April 13 when we began our first musical rehearsals for the Ring cycle, ushering in eight months of intense creativity and transformational artistic experiences onstage.

The Ring was one of those moments that defined San Francisco Opera as one of the great opera companies of the world: a level of excellence in all aspects of our art and craft that made this Ring a life-changing experience for many, and one that scaled the heights of emotional possibility.

November 28, 2018 It's a Wonderful Life

Backstage with Matthew: Dressing through Time

We are currently in the midst of our highly acclaimed production of It’s a Wonderful Life, the new holiday opera by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, co-commissioned with Houston Grand Opera (where it premiered in 2016) and Indiana University. I have been thrilled by the heartfelt reaction from audiences and critics alike—it is a work for which a pack of Kleenex is pretty much a necessity as we follow the journeys of George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clara.

November 13, 2018 It's a Wonderful Life

Backstage with Matthew: Working Out the Wings

On November 17, we enter the fairy-tale world of It’s a Wonderful Life – the story of a man desperate to find meaning in life, and the angel who helps him find that meaning, earning her wings in the process. It is a beautiful, lyrical, heartfelt operatic version of the film of the same name, and this is a new co-commission between San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The composer: the Bay Area’s very own Jake Heggie, working with esteemed librettist Gene Scheer. It will be perfect for adults and children alike and it will make for a joyful holiday experience for families!

October 24, 2018 Arabella

Backstage with Matthew: The Birth of a New Arabella

Last week, we were privileged to witness a number of artists taking on new roles in Strauss’ exquisitely romantic opera, Arabella. Soaring into the stratosphere with the role for her very first time was Ellie Dehn, the American soprano who has already brought roles from Donna Anna to Fiordiligi to the Countess to Musetta to Manon alive on our stage. Arabella is a unique role. It sits very high for a soprano, and needs to float with a silvery magic but also soar over Richard Strauss’ sumptuous orchestral textures. There are not many sopranos in the world able to take on this role, and so we were thrilled to witness Ellie’s first.

October 7, 2018 Tosca

Backstage with Matthew: The Sounds of Rome

On Wednesday we raised the curtain on our breathtaking new production of Tosca. It was such a proud moment for me and for so many others in the Company: the birth of an exquisite new legacy production conceived for San Francisco Opera, built here by our own artists, artisans and technicians, and created for this city at this time. It’s a searingly incisive expression of this powerful opera and I hope that you will have a chance to see it.

September 21, 2018 Tosca

Backstage with Matthew: Recreating History

In less than two weeks we open the curtain on our brand-new production of Tosca, directed by Shawna Lucey with set and costume designs by Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting design by Michael James Clark. I couldn’t be more excited at what is coming to life in the Opera House. Today we have the piano dress rehearsal—the coming together of all the physical elements—after which we will add the orchestra and move towards the final dress and opening.

September 7, 2018 Roberto Devereux

Backstage with Matthew: Another opening, another season!

Welcome to opening day of the 2018-19 season, the 96th season of San Francisco Opera! Today we raise the curtain on another year of thrilling operatic journeys as we delve into eight extraordinary stories of humanity, told through eight productions new to San Francisco, with eight different conductors on the podium, and eight sensational casts. I cannot wait to explore all of these with you!

Backstage with Matthew: An Argentine Journey

When we open the curtain on September 7th, ushering in the 2018–19 season, the audience will be transported to a place of vibrant color, intense passions, close communities and…tango. The world of La Boca district in Buenos Aires—the Italian quarter of the city—will come to life as the setting for this fascinating take on Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci in a production conceived by the great Argentine tenor, and now director and designer, José Cura.

August 6, 2018 Tosca

Backstage with Matthew: Hats Off to Tosca!

Welcome to the 2018-19 Season! It is hard to believe, but we are already back in rehearsal as we prepare for a thrilling fall ahead, and this week our brand new production of Tosca takes to the stage for preliminary technical rehearsals. I cannot wait to share this production with you, created by local craftspeople, designed specifically for our stage and our audiences, and a beautiful new expression of this classic work.

July 23, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: A Little Valkyrie Magic

I am still feeling incredible euphoria after our extraordinary Ring cycle last month! It was such a powerful coming together of company and community in a powerful, shared experience. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt the Opera House resonate with that kind of energy before, and I hope that many of you also had a similar reaction.

June 28, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Controlled Conflagrations

Fire is a vital and very exciting part of telling the story of the Ring.

June 18, 2018

Top Dogs Train for the Opera Stage

Two male Malinois (Belgian shepherds), Finn and Fubar, trained for weeks for their War Memorial Opera House debut in Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre (the second opera of the epic Ring cycle).

June 12, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: The Immersive Ring

Today we raise the curtain on what promises to be an extraordinary presentation of Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle.

May 29, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: A Noble Ring

After the double basses and bassoons lay the foundational sonorities at the opening of Rheingold, the first instruments we hear depicting the swells of the Rhine River are the horns.

May 24, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Big Art in Miniature

A few weeks ago I had a powerfully inspiring visit to Thomas Edison Elementary School in Daly City and a chance to see two classes working with SFO's flagship program.

April 16, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Building a Roman Icon

Something very exciting is currently happening 15 miles down the road from the Opera House. Something that you will see in all of its splendor this October, but which I’m so enthusiastic about that I wanted to give you a few glimpses of now! It is our spectacular new production of Tosca!

April 10, 2018

National Pet Day 2018

Meet some of the beloved furry companions that brighten our days!

March 13, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver

The title of this week’s backstage email refers to an exquisite book on my shelf that chronicles twelve of the greatest feasts of history. I thought it a fitting stepping-off point for a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of our Special Events department.

February 21, 2018

In Celebration of Black History Month: Debuts through the Decades

This month we would like to honor and recognize different African American Opera stars that have shared their artistry with us. Below are a few highlights from the San Francisco Opera archives. Many, if not all, of these artists continue to sing with us and we are greatful to them for their contributions to the Opera world at large.

February 14, 2018

Backstage with Matthew: Facilitating Experiences of a Lifetime

It’s been just about three weeks since we launched our 2018–19 season and we’ve been thrilled by the reception from patrons. Subscription sales are moving at a brisk pace, and there is a wonderful energy for what lies ahead. That energy is felt particularly acutely in the Box Office, the nerve center of our ticketing services.

December 18, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Looking Back with Joy

On December 10th we lowered the curtain on a fall season bursting with extraordinary opera. I am so proud to work for a company that makes possible this kind of work—both our exceptionally talented employees, and our generous and dedicated audiences.

December 11, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Sitting Side by Side

It is something of a truism that participation in the arts leads to a deeper connection to the arts. That is a central philosophy behind our education programs, opening opportunities to learn through creation and participation. 

November 28, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Singing Through the Centuries

This Thursday, November 30, we are presenting a very special concert in the Taube Atrium at the Wilsey Center. It is the second concert of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, and will be conducted by our Chorus Director, Ian Robertson and accompanied by Associate Chorus Master Fabrizio Corona. 

November 8, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: A Finely Coiffed Head!

As we delve into a busy November with three operas on stage, our wig department is working around the clock to ensure that all our artists are coiffed with wigs and facial hair that morph our singers and dancers into vibrant characters from mythical China, Belle Époque Paris, and 1850s California.

October 31, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Crafting the Gold Rush

With the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West less than a month away, the energy and fervor around the Company is palpable as all the details lock into place. It is shaping up to be one of the most impactful new operas seen on our (or any!) stage. 

October 9, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: The Art of Fashion

Tomorrow (October 10) we begin rehearsals for our next opera of this incredible fall season, Massenet’s Manon. This is a new SFO co-production with Lithuanian National Opera and a creation from the same team that brought us The Capulets and the Montagues in 2012—director (and, in this case, also costume designer) Vincent Boussard and set designer, Vincent Lemaire. As with Capuleti, Manon will be a shimmering interplay of light, reflection and color onstage, creating the giddy and capricious worlds through which Manon flits. 

September 28, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Stepping in for Callas

Overheard before a performance of Elektra at the Royal Opera House back in the 1960s: a grand doyenne of London society was talking with a friend and, upon suggesting that they continue their conversation at intermission, and upon finding out that there was no intermission, she exclaimed with incredulity: “My dear…an opera without an intermission?…What’s the point!”

September 22, 2017

Then and Now: Reflections on the Ring

Assistant Marketing Manager for Subscriptions, Steven Shear, interviews longtime San Francisco Opera subscriber, Michael Strange, on his tips and tricks for attending the Ring and what he is most looking forward to experiencing in the 2018 return.

September 20, 2017

Hello, Karita.

Finnish soprano Karita Mattila will make her highly anticipated return to San Francisco Opera as Sieglinde in the Ring. Hailed by critics and audiences alike for her definitive style, Mattila is sure to deliver nuanced compassion layered in Sieglinde despite a life scarred with misfortune. Get to know the Finnish diva with three fascinating facts.

September 15, 2017 Elektra

Why You Need ELEKTRA in Your Life

How serious is my Strauss addiction? Well, I recently celebrated a birthday (one that ends in zero) by going to hear his groundbreaking 1905 opera Salome at both the Met and LA Opera in the same season. My CD collection boasts over 50 recordings of Strauss operas, and my detailed reviews of each have earned me the coveted “Classical Enthusiast” title on Amazon.com. 

September 6, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: An Epic Jigsaw Puzzle

The air is getting thick with excitement as we build towards the opening of our 2017–18 Season on Friday. The following day we open Richard Strauss’ deeply psychological thriller Elektra in an insightful new production by Keith Warner. 

August 23, 2017

3 Things You May Not Know About Francesca Zambello

The intracies Ring Director Francesca Zambello weaves into her artistry stem from her varied artistic background and intriguing international upbringing. Here are three things you may not know about Director Francesca Zambello.

August 14, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: All Change Above

I can’t resist: how many electricians does it take to change a light bulb? Well, when you’re talking about the great chandelier of the War Memorial Opera House, it’s 3 electricians but it’s also 588 light bulbs! 

July 25, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: Opera with a Twist

As we and other urban companies take an important summer breather between repertory seasons, something very exciting happens. The summer opera festivals leap into life, filling the languid months of summer with a thrilling array of operatic offerings.

July 19, 2017

Emerging Stars

For a second year in a row, San Francisco Opera benefactors Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem will generously sponsor the Emerging Star of the Year Competition and Award. You have a role to play this season too!  Help choose the 2017 Emerging Star of the Year. Voting runs through August 15, 2017.

July 17, 2017

Don Giovanni with Garlic Fries: Tweets from Opera at the Ballpark

On Friday, June 30, more than 23,000 people of all ages kicked off the July 4th weekend with an evening of opera at AT&T Park. The free live simulcast of Mozart’s Don Giovanni came from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to the 103-foot wide scoreboard at the home of the San Francisco Giants.

June 22, 2017

Backstage with Matthew: The Roar of the Greasepaint

On July 2nd we will bid a very fond farewell to one of the most iconic characters backstage at San Francisco Opera for the past 45 years. Principal make-up artist William “Bill” Stewart Jones will make up Dale Travis as the two characters of Benoît and Alcindoro in Bohème for the last time, marking the close of a career that has seen some of the most luminous stars of opera pass under his make-up brush including Régine Crespin, Plácido Domingo, Ingvar Wixell and Sam Ramey.

June 14, 2017

Teaching Artistry 101

This semester in Teaching Artistry 101 I had the amazing opportunity to work with Nick at Mission High School. The goal of our work with the two choir classes was to prepare them for an upcoming concert and to give them some necessary tools for future singing.

June 13, 2017

Tweeting Bohemian Paris

Continuing San Francisco Opera’s experiments with social media, a band of brave live tweeters attended last week’s final dress rehearsal of Puccini’s La Bohème. This hardy group of opera newbies and experts sent out observations, reactions and emojis by the dozen as onstage the romantic tragedy played out.  Here are a few of their tweets under the hashtag #BohemeSF:

June 12, 2017

Backstage with Matthew-Dressing for Gold

In a recent Backstage with Matthew I showcased the process of building the sets for our new John Adams opera Girls of the Golden West. Last week, designer Rita Ryack joined us in the costume shop, meeting to finalize designs and choose fabrics for the incredible period costumes that will be featured on stage. 

May 15, 2017

My Experience Interning at San Francisco Opera

This past Spring I have had the honor to be an Intern with the San Francisco Opera’s Education Department. This opportunity has allowed me to get an in depth look and a better understanding of the work that goes into bringing arts education into schools and the community.

May 5, 2017

Backstage with Matthew-Creating the Art of Opera

In just a few days, the street lights and bus sides of San Francisco will be transformed with the arrival of the Opera’s new bold, energetic marketing campaign. 

April 19, 2017 Girls of the Golden West

Backstage with Matthew - Scaling the Sierra

Last week, scenic designer David Gropman visited the Opera for talks with the production department to make decisions on John Adams' new opera, Girls of the Golden West

April 11, 2017

At the Stage Door with Francis

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Francis Crossman our Senior Video Editor. 

April 11, 2017

National Pet Day

Happy National Pet Day! Here's to those furry four legged companions who make our lives that much more wonderful.

April 4, 2017

At the Stage Door with Lori

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Lori Harrison, Master of Properties.

March 29, 2017

At the Stage Door with Sheri

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Sheri Greenawald our Opera Center Director.

March 22, 2017

At the Stage Door with Amy

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Amy Garcia, our Assistant Marketing Manager for Single Tickets.

March 21, 2017

Save the National Endowment for the Arts

The NEA was founded in 1965 to encourage participation in the arts, recognize the importance of arts learning and celebrate America’s rich cultural heritage. These are not just noble goals for government, they are absolute necessities for society.

March 14, 2017

At the Stage Door with Jennifer and Roya

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Jennifer and Roya in our Development Department! 

March 7, 2017

At the Stage Door with Alyssa Stone

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required. Meet Alyssa Stone, our Community Programs Manager! 

February 27, 2017

Backstage with Matthew-  February 27

Last Friday we opened Ted Hearne’s searingly impactful dramatic oratorio, The Source in the Wilsey Center for Opera. It is a work that redefines artistry on many levels: musical language, technological effects, and stark questions about what it means to engage with art. It is also an example of how the Wilsey Center is redefining possibilities for the Opera’s employees.

February 13, 2017

Backstage with Matthew - February 13

There are two basic ways to organize an opera season. Repertory opera houses cycle through many productions at the same time, while staggione (or “season”) opera houses tend to focus on one production at a time. San Francisco Opera tends more towards the repertory model and if there’s one defining feature of repertory, its complexity! 

January 21, 2017

Backstage with Matthew - January 21

Happy New Year from San Francisco Opera! On Tuesday I was very proud to announce a thrilling 2017–18 Season at San Francisco Opera and I wanted to share a few personal reflections on what lies ahead.

December 14, 2016

Why I Give - Andrew Lan

Andrew Lan is a founding member of Orpheus, San Francisco Opera’s dynamic community of young donors ages 21—40 who share a passion for opera and a belief in its future. Thanks to special funding, gifts from Orpheus donors are matched to bring their total contribution to the Medallion Society Founder ($3,000) level.

December 12, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - December 12

I recently took off to Beijing for two days with our board member and Co-Chair of the Dream of the Red Chamber (DRC) Committee, Doreen Woo Ho, and my colleague Daniel Knapp, Managing Director: Production. Our objective: to try and secure safe passage for DRC in mainland China next year!

December 9, 2016

SF Opera Lab - The Many Faces of R&D

SF Opera Lab, the recently launched R&D branch of San Francisco Opera, is gearing up for its second season of programming. According to Elkhanah Pulitzer, Artistic Curator for SF Opera Lab, many valuable lessons learned from the program’s inaugural season have shaped what lies ahead for Season Two. 

November 28, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - November 28

As many of you know, we are very proud to be showcasing two former Adler Fellows, Leah Crocetto and Brian Jagde. But we are also proud to be showcasing two members of our corps de ballet as the solo dancers: Rachel Little and Jekyns Peláez.

November 14, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - November 14

One of the things I love about playing in repertory (changing productions night to night) is that we are constantly creating different worlds onstage. That magical shift is embodied in the incredible San Francisco Opera Chorus, a group of 48 talented singers who shift seamlessly between productions, languages, characterizations, and dramatic styles.

November 11, 2016 Aida

7 Street Artists We Love

Recognized the world over for his graffiti art and distinctive hieroglyphic script style, RETNA is the celebrated contemporary artist responsible for designing the stunning sets in our current production of Aida. Scroll ahead to see some of our favorite works by other artists known for their street art! 

November 3, 2016 Aida

Live tweeters tackle visually stunning Aida

Some courageous twitter adventurers stepped into the War Memorial Opera House on Wednesday evening for an evening of brilliant singers, arresting visuals and timeless music. These are their thoughts—encapsulated in 140 characters.

November 3, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - November 3

This week we’re visiting our orchestral librarian, Carrie Weick. The Opera has two full time librarians (one for orchestral music, the other for vocal music), and two part-time librarians supporting them. Carrie, as orchestral librarian, is a member of the orchestra and ensures that everyone’s music is fully prepared before rehearsals begin.

October 21, 2016 The Makropulos Case

The Little White Dress

This week we went behind the scenes with Assistant Costume Director, Christopher Verdosci and BRAVO! Club Board Member, Kari Lincks of Red Curtain Addict. Since opening night, we've been awestruck by the timeless wardrobe of Emilia Marty from the Makroplous Case. So we headed to the Wilsey Center to find out more about the inspiration behind the design on Facebook Live.

October 18, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - October 18

Stagecraft is all about magic: it’s about creating arresting worlds and feelings inside a black box. Unlike film, opera requires us to maneuver around these worlds in real time and, as such, needs a plethora of tricks and devices at its disposal.

October 14, 2016 The Makropulos Case

4 Fun Pop-Culture Parallels for The Makropulos Case

The Makropulos Case features a seductive diva who has broken hearts for over 300 years and yet doesn’t look a day over 30. Full of intrigue and drama, this captivating opera calls to mind plenty of pop-culture references everyone knows and loves. Read on to discover a few of our favorites!

October 12, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Check out Kelly Dewees' reasons to see the operas in our 2016–17 Season.

October 3, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - October 3

One of the things that most excites me about this art-form is the passionate connection that exists between the stage and the audience. The audience is an essential part of the artistic process and the energy that flows back and forth between stage and auditorium is what creates those performances of a lifetime!

September 22, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Another installment of Reasons to See, where Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season.

September 19, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - September 19

Deep in the farthest reaches of the Opera House lies a room so secret that it is literally kept under lock and key, and its contents are kept under yet further locks. It is the Opera’s armory.

August 22, 2016

Backstage with Matthew - August 22

Today marks three weeks in my role as your new general director. It's been a fascinating time, with everything both very familiar and very new.

August 11, 2016

Looking Back: Working with David Gockley

Andrew Morgan has been with San Francisco Opera for over eight years and currently serves as Director of Individual and Leadership Giving. In today's blog post, he shares some of his fondest memories from David Gockley’s tenure with the Company.

August 4, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Jennifer Jordan shares her thoughts on what's she is most excited about in our 2016–17 Season. - See more at: http://sfopera.com/archive/blog/#sthash.p0SacNuk.dpuf

Box Office dynamo Kyle Minor gives his picks for the 2016–17 season.

July 27, 2016

Looking Back: My Favorite Operas of the Gockley Era

Kristen Jones has been with San Francisco Opera for nearly seven years. In today's blog post, she reflects on the productions of David Gockley's tenure that have stuck with her most. 

July 26, 2016

From Strauss to Sondheim: David Gockley's Biggest Debuts

David Gockley has been an innovator, impresario, and inspiring force in the opera community from the time he developed his love for music and performance. During David Gockley’s time as General Director at San Francisco Opera, he gave 282 artists the chance to debut new roles. Here are the most notable!

July 25, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

From vampire stories and Death Becomes Her to adaptations of classic epic novels, our Annual Giving Manager, Jennifer Jordan shares her thoughts on what's she is most excited about in our 2016–17 Season. 

July 8, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Our librarian and self-proclaimed opera nerd Michael Bragg dishes immortality, sex, divas, and other reasons to see the shows he is most excited about in our 2016–17 Season.

July 6, 2016 Carmen

Carmen at AT&T Park: an operatic home run!

This past Saturday, over 28,000 opera and baseball fans gathered at AT&T Park to watch a free live simulcast of Carmen at Opera at the Ballpark. The San Francisco Opera social media accounts were lit up by happy fans celebrating anniversaries and birthdays, or fans who were just there to sit on the field, watch opera, and have a great time with family and friends.

June 30, 2016

Emerging Stars

Each year our stage is graced with superb operatic talent, but this season offers something completely new, thanks to the generosity of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem: our first-ever Emerging Star of the Year Competition and Award. 

June 27, 2016 Carmen

5 ways Opera is like Baseball

An evening spent at the opera is a very different evening than one spent at the ballpark. But they may be more similar than you imagine...

June 21, 2016

A Man with a Vision

San Francisco Opera dramaturg Kip Cranna reflects on the legacy and career of General Director David Gockley.

June 20, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Another installment of Reasons to See, where Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season.

June 20, 2016 Don Carlo

The Long Opera Survival Kit

There is nothing worse than waiting two hours for your favorite jealous aria, dramatic death scene, or hunky shirtless baritione to come on stage, only to be distracted by your fatigue and exhaustion. How do the Opera Pros do it? It's all in the preparation...

June 16, 2016

Opera Props Get a Second Life in Shanghai Disneyland

Like many, we have been anxiously awaiting the opening of Shanghai Disneyland. But for us, the reason is much more personal...

June 8, 2016

Reasons to See 2016–17

Earlier this year we asked San Francisco Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season. - See more at: http://sfopera.com/blog/reasonstosee/#sthash.b3t8er3S.dpuf
Earlier this year we asked San Francisco Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season. - See more at: http://sfopera.com/blog/reasonstosee/#sthash.b3t8er3S.dpufWe asked San Francisco Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season.

We asked San Francisco Opera employees to share their thoughts on the operas in our 2016–17 Season.

May 27, 2016 Carmen

Love, Lust and Murder: Live Tweeting Carmen

What happens when you gather twenty, social-savvy opera lovers for the final dress rehearsal of Bizet’s Carmen? They tweet about it!

May 4, 2016

12 Ways Opera is like Star Wars

Star Wars...is an opera?! It's THE ultimate space opera! In honor of Star Wars Day, San Francisco Opera presents 16 ways Opera is like Star Wars:

April 22, 2016

15 Ways Opera is like Game of Thrones

Incest. Dragons. Bastard sons. As we eagerly anticipate the premiere of season 6 on Sunday night, we at San Francisco Opera give you 15 Ways Opera is like Game of Thrones.

March 28, 2016 Svadba-Wedding

5 Favorite Wedding Moments in Opera

With rehearsals for SF Opera Lab's exuberant production of Svadba underway, we find ourselves thinking about weddings. Opera weddings, specifically!

March 18, 2016 Svadba-Wedding

Wedding Traditions from around the World

With Svadba coming up soon, we looked into different cultural wedding traditions from around the world.

March 15, 2016 Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber Family Tree

Also called the Chinese Romeo and Juliet, Dream of the Red Chamber, is an epic tale including over 400 main characters.

February 26, 2016

9 Awesome Oscar Winning Films That Feature Opera

With the Oscars fast approaching this weekend, we scoured the internet looking for Oscar winning films that use opera in their soundtracks.

January 14, 2016

Opening the Bryan Education Studio

In addition to the exciting programming being planned for the new Dianne & Tad Taube Atrium Theater, the opening of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera in February 2016 will also mark a major expansion of San Francisco Opera’s Education programs.

January 13, 2016

Adler Profile: Anthony Reed

Anthony Reed is a second-year Adler Fellow who appeared in The Magic Flute, Die Meistersinger, and The Fall of the House of Usher this past fall. Read on to learn what he compares his experience as an Adler Fellow to, his original pop music, and more.

December 18, 2015

Embracing Change

San Francisco Opera is expanding into the historic Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House. On the top floor, construction of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera is nearing completion, and everything is on track for the first performance in the brand-new Dianne & Tad Taube Atrium Theater in early March, 2016.

December 17, 2015 The Barber of Seville

Singing Together

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack and her husband, tenor Alek Shrader, are enjoying enviable careers on the international operatic stage. They met while they were both participating in the Merola Opera program in 2007 and were married in 2011 after successful Adler Fellowships.  Now, after the birth of their baby daughter Evangelina in January, they are choosing to put their young family at the center of their professional decisions.

December 7, 2015 The Magic Flute

Our Newest Collaboration with Music App Developer Smule

Over the last two years, we have been working with San Francisco-based musical app developer Smule to bring songs from productions like The Magic Flute and The Barber of Seville to the Smule Songbook, as well artist performances to the Smule app platform. Our latest collaboration gives users a taste of what it feels like to sing on stage at the War Memorial Opera House with the the “SF Opera” vocal effect in Sing! Karaoke on iOS.

December 3, 2015 The Magic Flute

A Three Year-Old's First Opera

For many, attending their first opera can occur as early as age seven or eight. However, with the right opera and some fun preparation, one patron learned that you can successfully bring a three year-old to the opera. Meet Nathaniel, one of San Francisco Opera's newest (and youngest) fans. 

5 Questions with Brandon Jovanovich

Tenor Brandon Jovanovich can currently be seen as knight Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He first made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2007 as Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, and has been thrilling San Francisco Opera audiences ever since. Read on to learn about where he first got his love for singing, his favorite things to do in San Francisco, and more!

November 18, 2015 The Magic Flute

Adler Profile: Efraín Solís

Mexican-American baritone Efraín Solís is a second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who is currently appearing as Papageno in The Magic Flute. He made his Company debut in 2014 as Prince Yamadori (Madame Butterfly) and has appeared in our recent productions of A Masked Ball, Cinderella and Tosca. Read on to learn more about his backstage rituals, how we knew he wanted to be a performer and more.

November 16, 2015 The Magic Flute

Adler Profile: Nian Wang

Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her Company debut as Ascanius in our summer 2015 production of Berlioz' The Trojans. Learn more about this brilliant young mezzo-soprano.

October 26, 2015 The Magic Flute

Live Magic – Live Tweeting The Magic Flute Dress Rehearsal

Recently a group of social-savvy tweeters gathered at the Opera House to live tweet the final dress rehearsal of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

October 26, 2015 The Magic Flute

A Flying Start: Thoughts from a Child Spirit

Pietro Juvara is one of the three Spirits in our 2015 production of The Magic Flute. Read on to find out what was going on in this 11-year-old's mind during opening night of the production!

October 16, 2015 Lucia di Lammermoor

Tartan, Leather, and Plot Twists: Live Tweeting Lucia di Lammermoor

They came, they saw, they tweeted: last Sunday a group of social-savvy tweeters gathered at the Opera House to live tweet the final dress rehearsal of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. As usual, the tweets ranged from personal reactions to pop culture comparisons to advice for the characters.

5 Questions With Andrea Silvestrelli

Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli can be seen in three of our productions this fall: Luisa MillerDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and The Barber of Seville. He has been performing at San Francisco Opera since 1998, and consequently knows the city well. Read on to learn about Andrea's love of motorcycles, his struggle to find shoes, and more!

October 12, 2015

Join Connor Rapier at the Opera!

My name is Connor and  I attend the San Fransisco Opera pretty regularly with my mother, Tiffany, a fellow opera member. Though I am young and only in middle school, I enjoy the performances immensely. "But, wait!" you might be thinking, "He's too young for the opera; this is abnormal!"

September 21, 2015 Sweeney Todd

5 Questions with Stephanie Blythe

Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is back in San Francisco this September starring as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. She kindly gave us some insight into her Mrs. Lovett, her favorite things to do when she's not on stage, and what she will be doing once Sweeney Todd ends...

September 20, 2015 Sweeney Todd

5 Questions with Elliot Madore

Canadian baritone Elliot Madore made his San Francisco Opera debut this month as Anthony in Sweeney Todd. We were curious to find out what his dream roles are, and what profession he would pursue if he weren't a singer.

September 10, 2015 Sweeney Todd

Blood, Gore and Pies: Live Tweeting Sweeney Todd

San Francisco Opera has hosted tweet seaters at selected final dress rehearsals since June 2012. The latest iteration saw a group of social-savvy tweeters attend the final dress of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd on September 9.

July 9, 2015

The Cats of San Francisco Opera

This week we are turning our attention to our feline friends. Here's to those furry four legged companions who make our lives that much more wonderful—#OperaKittehs!

July 6, 2015

Hitting it out of the Park: The Marriage of Figaro at the Ballpark

On July 3, opera fans converged on AT&T Park for the 9th simulcast from the War Memorial Opera House since 2006. Mozart’s classic, The Marriage of Figaro, was greeted with joy by over 30,000 spectators at the ballpark along with some 3,000 audience members in the House.

June 25, 2015

5 Questions with Phillippe Sly

Bass-baritone Philippe Sly finished his Adler fellowship this past December and returned to San Francisco this summer to play the title role The Marriage of Figaro.

June 17, 2015

Live Tweeting a Marriage... of Figaro

On June 11 a brave band gathered in a box to live tweet their views from the final dress rehearsal of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.

June 15, 2015

Adler Profile: Edward Nelson

First year Adler Fellow Edward Nelson made his professional debut at San Francisco Opera this past weekend as Lieutenant John Buckley in the world premiere of Two Women.

June 1, 2015

The Top 6 Opera Tips

We asked and you answered! We reached out to our brilliant opera fans via social media for their top #OperaTips for people who have never attended live opera before. The top 6 suggestions may surprise you. Enjoy!

May 26, 2015

The Dogs of San Francisco Opera

Today we're barking up a totally different tree! This blog is dedicated to our outstanding staff members and the four-legged furry friends that inspire them—#OperaDoggies

April 29, 2015

Adler Profile: Zanda Svede

Second year Adler Fellow Zanda Švēde has graced the War Memorial stage countless times since she joined us last year. Originally from Latvia, Zanda has undoubtedly flourished during her time in San Francisco, and we can't wait to see her shine this Summer and Fall in our productions of La CiociaraLucia di Lammermoor, and The Magic Flute.

April 7, 2015

Adler Profile: Julie Adams

Julie Adams may be a first year Adler Fellow, but she is no stranger to San Francisco. Julie first came to SF for her undergraduate degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and never left, except to pursue further education at prestigious programs like Music Academy of the West and the International Vocal Arts Institute.

March 20, 2015 Don Carlo

Did you know? Verdi's Don Carlo

Today we dive into the history of Verdi’s brilliant work, Don Carlo.

March 13, 2015 Carmen

Carmen goes to the movies

Carmen routinely ranks among the world’s most performed operas, but perhaps no single work in the repertoire is as well known outside the opera house.

February 27, 2015 The Barber of Seville

Where have you heard the Barber of Seville before?

Gioachino Rossini's comic and musical masterpiece, The Barber of Seville has long been a favorite of opera aficionados and novices. 

February 26, 2015

Adler Profile: Chong Wang

Chong Wang joins us as an Adler Fellow from Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China. Mr. Wang studied at the Conservatory of the People’s Liberation Party in China, and has performed numerous roles at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts...

February 25, 2015

5 Questions with Daniel Knapp

We're excited to welcome Daniel Knapp, our new Director of Production, to the San Francisco Opera family. We had the opportunity to sit down and ask him a few questions about his career in opera and his new home in San Francisco! Enjoy!

Did you know...? Wagner's Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Did you know...? In writing Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner turned to Johann Christoph Wagenseil’s 1697 historical study, Buch von der Meister-Singer holdseligen Kunst Anfang (Book of the Mastersingers’ Fair Art), for the basis of his libretto.

February 13, 2015

What's in a (Opera) Kiss?

Over the last few years, we've asked some of our artists the same question: "Describe your first onstage Opera Kiss." Their responses were vastly different. Many of the stories were funny, some were sweet, and some couldn't even remember!

February 12, 2015 The Magic Flute

Jun Kaneko's Colorful World

The use of video projections to complement traditional scenery and backdrops is by now a familiar sight to most operagoers. Perhaps no production mounted at the War Memorial Opera House depends as heavily on this technology as Jun Kaneko’s whimsical interpretation of The Magic Flute, returning to our stage this fall.

February 2, 2015 Lucia di Lammermoor

The Lucias of San Francisco Opera

Gaetano Donizetti’s beloved bel canto opera Lucia di Lammermoor returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage this October after seven years.  The new production will be directed by Michael Cavanagh and stars soprano Nadine Sierra as Lucia and Polish tenor Piotr Beczala as Edgardo.  

January 28, 2015 Sweeney Todd

All The Buzz around Sweeney Todd and the 2015–16 Season

The news is out and people are thrilled! Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical thriller Sweeney Todd; The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is coming to San Francisco Opera.

January 22, 2015 Luisa Miller

"Quando le sere al placido" from Luisa Miller

Our dear friend Placido Domingo recently celebrated his 74th birthday. In celebration of his birthday, we thought we’d share this special video of the brilliant tenor performing one of his signature arias, “Quando le sere al placido.”

June 17, 2014

Earl & Alexis Return to SFO: Somthin' That the Angels Done Plan

It was cold in New York in February, 2008 when I flew into LaGuardia airport, but not too cold...

January 28, 2014

Red Carpet-Worthy Looks from 10 San Francisco Opera Productions

The Golden Globes, Screen Actor's Guild and of course the Grammy Awards are all behind us, and yet we've still got the Oscars to look forward to this winter!

November 23, 2013

Live Tweeting the #WilyBarber

On Friday night, during the dress rehearsal for the San Francisco Opera’s production of The Barber of Seville, sixteen preselected audience members broke every cardinal rule of operagoing by pulling out their phones, signing into Twitter, and tweeting non-stop for all three hours of the rehearsal.

View More

Resources for the media including press releases, press kits and more.

You May Also Enjoy

The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro

October 11–November 1, 2019

Manon Lescaut

Manon Lescaut

November 8–26, 2019

Partenope

Partenope

June 12–27, 2020