San Francisco Opera
301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, Phone: (415) 864-3330
Founded in 1923, this world-renowned company has resided in the Civic Center’s War Memorial Opera House since it was built in 1932. Over its season, the opera presents approximately 70 performances of 10 to 12 operas from September through January and June through July.
The opera uses supertitles: translations are projected above the stage during almost all non-English operas. See also this fantastic 2012 video starring Luciano Pavarotti in Verdi’s Aida:
Long considered a major international company and the most important operatic organization in the United States outside of New York, the opera frequently embarks on co-productions with European opera companies.
Ticket prices range from about $32 to $215. Standing-room tickets are sold at 10 a.m.for same-day performances, and patrons often sell extra tickets on the Opera House steps just before curtain time at face value or less. The full-time box office is at 199 Grove Street, at Van Ness Avenue.
History of San Francisco Opera
In 1923, the San Francisco Opera was incorporated after it was established by Gaetano Merola (1881-1953). The SF Opera’s first performance was in that same year, on September 26, in San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium. Performed was La Bohème, conducted by Merola himself and with Giovanni Martinelli and Queena Mario.
In 1932, the Company relocated to its new home to inaugurate the newly built San Francisco War Memorial Opera House where, on October 15, they performed Tosca, again conducted by Merola, and with leading roles for Claudia Muzio, Giuseppe Gandolfi, and Dino Borgioli. People from all over the famous San Francisco Bay Area came to enjoy and admire the Opera’s phenomenal performances.
Following Gaetano Merola’s death, the San Francisco Opera Company was directed through 1981 by the well-known Kurt Herbert Adler; in the period 1982 – 1988 by Terence McEwen, and during the years 1988 – 2001 by the famous Lotfi Mansouri; and later under the exciting direction of Pamela Rosenberg. The current General Director is Matthew Shilvock who succeeded David Gockley in 2016. San Francisco Opera is now the second largest opera company in North America which is also good for supporting the City’s great museums.
Since 1923, San Francisco Opera has presented the United States debut performances of numerous artists, including Inge Borkh, Vladimir Atlantov, Boris Christoff, Sir Geraint Evans, Marie Collier, Mafalda Favero, Sera Jurinac, Tito Gobbi, Mario del Monaco, Leontyne & Margaret Price, Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek, Giulietta Simionato, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Ebe Stignani, Ingvar Wixell, and Renata Tebaldi; conductors Valery Gergiev, Gerd Albrecht, Silvio Varviso, and Georg Solti; and directors Jean-Pierre Ponnelle., Francis Ford Coppola, and Harry Kupfer.
San Francisco Opera in the Park
Since 1971, San Francisco Opera has presented an annual free concert in Golden Gate Park on the Sunday following the Fall season’s opening night. Traditionally, it is featuring artists in concert with the fabulous San Francisco Opera Orchestra. The event is open to the, sometimes a little weird, public and draws some 20,000 listeners. The concert is presented in conjunction with the Friends of Recreation and Parks and San Francisco Examiner Charities.
Other San Francisco Opera Theaters:
The Lamplighters Music Theatre
469 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94107, Phone: (415) 227-4797
This operatic alternative Music Theatre specializes in Gilbert and Sullivan but presents other light operas as well. The troupe performs at various venues including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Here are some February 2019 Lamplighters performances of “A Little Night Music” (Lyrics and Music: Eric Sondheim after the Hugh Wheeler book):
San Francisco: Yerba Buena Ctr. for the Arts:
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2 pm & 8 pm
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2 pm
Walnut Creek: Lesher Ctr. for the Arts:
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2 pm & 8 pm
Sunday, Feb 10, 2 pm
Mountain View: Ctr. for the Performing Arts
Saturday, Feb 16, 2 pm & 8 pm
Sunday, Feb 17, 2 pm
A Little Night Music, an enchanting and fascinating story of 3 Swedish couples caught within some extraordinary romantic machinations, is set at the romantic, magical, and mystical Swedish midsummer festivities during the turn of the century. The story is unfolding as seen through the eyes and impressions of the young while, at the same time, through the memories and visions of the old. To read more about San Francisco’s weather, check out this page.
469 Bryant St, San Francisco, CA 94107, Phone: (415) 972-8930
Pocket Opera has been around for a long time and is famous for performing for English language-based versions of world-famous and not that well-known operas. This lively, modestly priced alternative to grand opera aims to bring opera to a broad audience. The concert performances of popular and seldom-heard works are mostly in English. Offenbach ‘s operettas are frequently on the bill during the February-June season. Concerts are held at various locations. The Pocket Opera is actually one of many San Francisco’s “Must Sees”.