Saturday, September 08, 2007

San Francisco Opera's Opening Night

The little park between the San Francisco Opera House and the Veterans Building was roped off for an entire week for the construction of a huge tent.

It was being used as the setting for the 2007 San Francisco Opera Ball that included a cocktail reception, a sit-down dinner for 800 with 1,300 pounds of rack of lamb and 15 pounds of caviar among other delicacies, and after-dinner dancing to Bill Hopkins Rock'n Orchestra.

This was to celebrate Opening Night of the San Francisco Opera season which was starting off with an old, gaudy production of Saint-Saens' "Samson and Delilah," a sex-and-violence-and-lots-of-praying French Grand Opera spectacular from 1877.

I hosted a small party that included one handsome dude in a tuxedo...

...and three beautiful young women, and all it cost was $10 for standing room, which has to be the best deal in San Francisco.

We assembled in the box bar at intermission where we somehow snagged a table...

...and watched in amusement, horror and fascination at dozens of wealthy women who looked like nothing so much as drag queens with lots of money.

Upstaging most of the socialites, in fact, was my downstairs neighbor Morgan Jones channeling Josephine Baker.

The opera itself, what little I heard of it, looked pretty silly, with the diva Olga Borodina sounding fabulous and the debuting tenor Clifton Forbis sounding pretty awful. Still, the cheesy special effects finale with Samson bringing the infidel's temple down is always fun. For a very loosely translated and funny synopsis, click here for chorister Tom Reed's tour through mangled French.

In Kosman's review at SFGate this morning (click here), he writes "The Israelites and Philistines hurled their competing theological viewpoints at one another, and though of course the listener rooted for Jehovah's troops, it was perhaps more out of sentiment than dramatic urgency." To which I must add, speak for yourself, Mr. Kosman. The Philistines were much more fun than the Hebrews, with wild costumes, dances and orgies, not to mention a religious icon of their god Dagon that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Maria Montez movie. "Glory to Dagon!" indeed.


AlbGlinka said...

That peacock print ballgown, (second photo) was my favorite of the evening-- haute couture for sure, and her companion was dashing as well in a luxururious silk shirt that I'm sure was an Armani or some such thing.

Don't hate me, but I'll take Saint-Saens over Wagner any day.

Sorry I missed your box bar party, I wasn't quite sure where it was-- I think I nay have been on the wrong side of the house looking for it. --Grove

Civic Center said...

Dear albglinka: How could I hate you for your musical taste? Actually, "Samson" is Saint-Saens' version of a Wagner opera. It was premiered in Leipzig thanks to Franz Lizst. In truth, I'm ambivalent about both composers, loving some of their music but disliking most of it.

Anonymous said...

Good to see what's up this opera season with a flashback to Like a Rhinestone Cowboy. All good wishes.

Beth Spotswood said...

Yay! I'm famous!

And thank you so much for not mentioning that I, ME, of all people, wore jeans. Which you made me take off. In public.

I'm buring all the denim I own. Never again will I be caught underdressed.

Thanks Strickland!

love, me

Greg said...

sfmike you're a lucky get to hang out with cute women like beth spotswood....luckyduck!

Sam said...

and to get her to strip!

we went to free opera in the park which was pretty chill.

we even had an hour of tennis first

Anonymous said...

Hey, your neighbor made the Chron.

Anonymous said...

Michael, thank you for the gorgeous made me look like a vintage movie star!!! It was fun hanging out with you, Beth, and Louisa!
Love, Hugs, & Kisses...Morgan

rchrd said...

Wait, Mike Strickland in a Tux?