San Francisco Opera at San Quentin State Prison

We presented the first classical music concert at San Quentin State Prison on November 30, 2017. Five mainstage artists and covers—J’nai Bridges, Soloman Howard, Andrea Lett, Kearstin Piper Brown, and Kenneth Overton accompanied by Ronny Michael Greenberg—presented a series of opera arias, duets and trios, and spirituals to an enthralled and mesmerized audience of inmates, correctional officers, and staff. The performances were meaningful to both the artists and the audience alike, inviting new listeners to connect with the extraordinary storytelling power of opera.

Learn more about Opera at San Quentin

San Quentin concert

View photos from the concert at San Quentin State Prison.

Read the San Francisco Classical Voice article, the SFWeekly article, and the San Quentin News article about the concert.

At first glance opera seems like the farthest reach for incarcerated individuals to connect to, but the stories in opera are such pure, human experiences. Opera stories aren’t just about pretentious kings and queens; opera stories are about people in dire situations, down on their luck, betrayed by their friends and families, left by their loves, forced to make impossible decisions and live with the consequences. All told through unamplified and unhindered human voice. There could not be a better way for inmates to connect to the human spirit, and utilize the stories as a springboard for contemplating choices and assessing outcomes.

As the concert came to a close, the audience leapt to their feet. A long line formed where each inmate personally connected with the artists and shared their experience of being moved by opera. The leadership and staff at San Quentin is working day in and day out to provide exceptional learning and growth opportunities to their community. It was an honor to be able to bring opera to the prison, and we hope to build upon this partnership at San Quentin and beyond.

For more information, please contact Alyssa Stone at astone@sfopera.com or call 415-551-6294.