Saturday, September 12, 2015
SF Opera Opening Gala 2015
The official opening of Society Season in San Francisco took place at the War Memorial Opera House for the 93rd year in a row on Friday night.
The perennial class struggle between the haves and have-nots is currently branded as "income inequality," and it was difficult not to think of the phrase while walking by.
This was reinforced by at least a dozen beat cops on the sidewalks around the opera house, a sight one rarely sees in San Francisco.
There's always been a populist, democratic streak at the San Francisco Opera House, though. On my last visit to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, they didn't let the peasants into the building until a half hour before the performance because Society hadn't finished eating dinner under the Chagall murals. In San Francisco, there are inexpensive seats to be had on opening night in the balcony, and the standing room tickets are still an astonishingly low $10.
Above all, it's a social event rather like Giants Opening Day, where you can see old friends who share some of the same musical obsessions. I joined Charlise Tiee (above), the Opera Tattler, who was happily drinking bubbly with Terence Shek in the box level bar, one of my favorite places in the world.
Local celebrity Sid Chen stopped by with Greg Freed, who was writing about the opening night performance of Verdi's Luisa Miller for Parterre Box, the New York opera queen blog site.
I went to check out the dresses on the ladies in the lobby, including the woman above who was teetering between The Little Princess and Miss Havisham.
It was heartening to see a real drag queen in a formal gown, a phenomenon that has been occurring for decades at San Francisco Opera Gala Openings.
There were also beautiful young women dressed to the nines like Lilia Eshoo and Teresa Concepcion above.
On the way home from the opera, I noticed City Hall lit red, white and blue and wondered which local team had those colors. A security guard offered that it was a commemoration of 9/11, something I have been trying to put out of my mind since it happened.