Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent Sunday in the Hood 2



San Francisco Opera supernumeraries (non-singing extras, often carrying spears) have an annual Christmas party where "Hammy Awards" are given out for each production in the season, usually to somebody who unintentionally falls down a flight of stairs or otherwise calls attention to themselves in some fashion.



It seems that I received one of the awards for the last-minute substitution in the middle of this summer's "Madama Butterfly" run (click here if you missed the story), but didn't go to the party. This was rather like a Best Actress nominee who doesn't show up at the Oscars because she figures she doesn't have a chance, and then wins the whole enchilada. (If you're interested, you can read an account of the awards ceremony on the supernumerary website, "Spearhead News," by clicking here.)



During the Advent Sunday matinee of "Carmen," I went backstage to the opera house basement canteen and picked up the award with as much over-the-top appreciative hamminess as could be mustered in front of a large group of supernumeraries who were conducting a bake sale. The papparazzi went mad.



Then it was off to Civic Center Plaza, passing newsracks with nicely stenciled journalism brands that also included a well-done "9/11 Was An Inside Job" logo.



In the plaza itself, there was a diarist contemplating her life under the large, public Christmas tree...



...along with a cute young couple clumsily playing frisbee...



...and a scattering of hobos, as Beth Spotswood calls them, sleeping on the lawn.



Not only was it warm, but the light all day couldn't have been more exquisite.



The Civic Center farmers' market was thinning out at 3PM...



...and the vendors were starting to pack up their goods.



The Lone Star Saloon south of Market on Harrison Street...



was jammed for a beer bust...



...which was being presided over as usual by Avis the tarot reader.



Then it was on to a small jewel box of an Anglo-Catholic church on Fell Street between Franklin and Gough called Church of the Advent of Christ the King (click here for their website that includes a sampling of music)...



...where there was an Advent mass being conducted with an eight-member professional chorus singing polyphonal music by Palestrina, Benjamin Britten and other masters. At times, their soloist lines intertwined with the voices of the small congregation who were an extraordinarily in-tune group.



I stood next to Carol Schaffer, above, who had just finished being a Gypsy chorus girl all afternoon at the San Francisco Opera's "Carmen," and who was in absolutely superb voice.



Though I'm not much of a fan of High Episcopalian services and Christian dogma, through some combination of all the beers drunk at the Lone Star Saloon...



...plus the candles, incense, and extraordinary music bouncing polyphonally through the small, high-ceilinged church...



...there was a long moment when it was easy to see and feel God, not to mention Mother Mary and Baby Jesus too.

6 comments:

cookiecrumb said...

What was your award? Looks like either a little troll doll, or a really fat Pez dispenser. Congratulations.
:D

sfmike said...

Dear cookiecrumb: The award is a lovingly handcrafted little piggy with ribbons in its hair.

cookiecrumb said...

Awww...
xxx!

janinsanfran said...

I sure wish you'd photographed that amazing crucifix that dominates Advent's altar -- but I guess it might have been rude. :-)

sfmike said...

It would have been rude, but I was sorely tempted.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome to come back and photograph the crucifix at Church of the Advent if you would like to. Just let me know and we can arrange a time.

music@advent-sf.org