So, you’re having one of those “I could have had a V8 moments — turns out, San Francisco Opera makes for a great date night. Gen Xers are giving it a listen — their opera attendance grew more than 18 percent in recent years. And more than 20 million people head back out to the opera every year.
San Francisco Opera’s season now includes 75 performances of ten operas between September and July. So here’s a cheat sheet review so you you can experience opera in the city the savvy way.
San Francisco Opera Savvy Review
cheat sheet savvy review of what you can expect, so you you can experience more opera in the city the smart way. San Francisco Opera’s season now includes 75 performances of ten operas between September and July.
SF Opera’s home venue is the historic War Memorial Opera House, worthy of an actual guided tour you can book through the San Francisco War Memorial Performing Arts Center (415-552-8338), and San Francisco Opera Guild, (510-524-5220). If you have the chance to go, you won’t be disappointed, but I highly recommend doing it with story and music — why would you not?
While the opera house is the place for couples on a classy night out in the city, my favorite SF Opera dates for families are the free outdoor performances at AT&T Park and at Golden Gate Park, and occasional performances at Yerba Buena Gardens. Outdoor opera in San Francisco gives opera lovers, and the not so sure, a chance to experience opera in a casual setting.
How To Choose an Opera: If you’re new to opera and thinking about giving it a try, the SF Opera website has a fun and helpful chart for which classic operas you might enjoy based on which popular movies you like. For example, James Bond movie fans might enjoy Puccini’s Tosca or Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. If you’re more of a Pretty Woman and Princess Diaries fan, try something like Verdi’s La Traviata. If you go for movies like Bend it Like Beckham, they recommend Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Titanic = Orpheus from the Underworld by Offenbach or Thais by Massenet, and so on.
SF Opera Tickets, Deals, Free Reservations
TICKET INFO: General admission ticket info on the opera website ticket page: sfopera.com or at the box office.
FREE: Take advantage of these SF Opera freebies …
- Outdoor Opera Performances — San Francisco Opera performs free, annual outdoor concerts and simulcasts throughout the year, like Opera At The Ballpark and Opera in the Park.
- Pre-Opera Talks — To learn more about the opera you’re about to see, show up an hour early for the free Pre-Opera Talks (not available on Opening Night).
- Student/Senior/Military Rush — Day of performance rush tickets are sometimes available for students, seniors, and military personnel for less, (starting at 11am). Prices and availability subject to change.
- Standing Room — War Memorial Opera House performances have a number of standing room tickets available for $10 (cash only) starting at 10am on the day of performance.
- Group Discount — Opera Party anyone? Bring a group of 10 or more people and SF Opera will give you 30% off with seating benefits, flexible ticket purchase options, networking and socializing opportunities.
- Subscription Deals — SF Opera offers an array of subscription plans, including student, teacher, and LGBT, among others.
SF Opera — Know Before You Go
OPERA HOUSE PERFORMANCES
To help make your experience even savvier, here are a few things you might want to know before you head out.
- Official Info — San Francisco Opera
- Schedule — Performances at the Opera House take place from September through July. See the upcoming performances on the Opera’s website.
- Location — The War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., at Grove St., across from City Hall.
- Pop-up Beer Garden — The Opera House has an outdoor Loggia terrace on the 3rd floor overlooking City Hall, and it opens an hour before curtain and at intermission. Cheers old chaps!
- New Venue — San Francisco Opera is expanding into the historic Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House. On the top floor, you’ll find the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera (pictured above).
- Run Times — Check the run time of the opera before you head out. Operas typically run anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, and sometimes as long as 5 hours or more, and may include one or two 25-minute intermissions, depending on the number of acts. That can be quite a commitment, so if you’re an opera virgin, start with with a shorter opera or operetta.
- Language — San Francisco Opera always uses supertitles or surtitles, which means you’ll have the English translations of songs projected above the stage, and are always featured at all San Francisco Opera productions.
- The Cheap Seats — If you’re sitting in the balcony section, you’ll be happy to know that San Francisco Opera uses OperaVision screens, hung from the ceiling, giving you close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in HD video. Supertitles are shown at the bottom of each screen.
- Dress Code — There isn’t any. You’ll see everything from faded jeans to cocktail attire. People do tend to dress up more for opening nights.
- Social — SF Opera sometimes makes special ticket offers available via their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
GOLDEN GATE PARK PERFORMANCES
Opera in the Park — FREE. Sunday after Labor Day (September) — coming up: September 13, 2015, 1:30pm. Features stars from the fall operas, accompanied by San Francisco Opera Orchestra, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti.
- Location — Golden Gate Park, Sharon Meadow, 320 Bowling Green Drive, San Francisco.
- Getting There — Public transit is highly recommended. See 511.org for directions and public transit info.
- Bicycles — Park your bike at the free bicycle valet parking area provided by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
- Accessibility — The ADA parking and drop-off point is on Bowling Green Drive. (Take MLK Jr. Drive to Nancy Pelosi Drive to Bowling Green Drive.)
AT&T PARK PERFORMANCES:
Opera at the Ballpark — This free event takes place every July.
- Location — AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco.
- Make Reservations — This event draws huge crowds, so make reservations early.
- Field Seating — To sit on the field, use the Ballpark’s Marina Gate (behind centerfield near the Ferry Dock Landing). Get there early because it fills up fast. You’ll need to show your barcoded confirmation printout for early entry. No saving seats allowed. Bring blankets (no lawn chairs).
- Families — Best to sit on the grass or in the stands, so children can talk over the music (and you won’t need to shush them). Kids can also enjoy activities such as face-painting, art projects and singing will take place pre-performance and during the opera.
- The music at the beginning of an opera begins with a musical composition and the tex of the story, known as the libretto, which means “little book” in Italian.
- Opera singers’ voices are know by their range or “Fach”:
- High — Female: Coloratura soprano/ Male: Countertenor
- Middle — Female: Lyric or dramatic soprano, Mezzo-soprano/ Male: Tenor, Baritone
- Low — Female: Contralto / Male: Bass (Basso profundo)