Saturday, September 11, 2010

San Francisco Opera Opening 2010

The art of opera attracts fellow eccentrics worldwide quite naturally.

San Francisco Society has seen just about everything at their opera openings over the years, from the four-hour-late curtain when Domingo flew in for "Otello" cross-country in 1983 to the year ACT-UP disrupted the proceedings with yells and whistles during the overture to "Barber of Seville" later in the decade. Those disruptions were nothing, of course, next to the noisy and persistent anti-fur protestors of the 1960s through 1980s.

The Opera House is a place where interesting people can act out fantasies...

...and opening night is where the theatrical focus is mostly on the other side of the footlights, namely the audience.

Drag queens don't look out of place because the entire event is so theatrically exaggerated.

The Opera Tattler (above right) and The Last Chinese Unicorn (above left) certainly understand the concept.

The actual opening night opera tends to be fairly immaterial, a background, and tonight's "Aida" was perfect for the occasion with mostly second-rate singing (Dolora Zajick being the major exception), and idiotic direction. Let's pray it gets better as the run continues.

The best part of "Aida" was the very silly, very bright costumes and production by legendary British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes (above). Since one couldn't take the story or the singers seriously for a second, it was fun watching her visual inventions sliding by.


Lisa Hirsch said...

Hmm. I was going to swap my Nozze ticket for Werther, but perhaps I should reconsider and skip seeing a THIRD mediocre Aida at SFO.

Minor point - Domingo's cross-country flight for Otello was in 1983.

Civic Center said...

Dear Lisa: Thanks for the Domingo date reminder. I'll change it in the copy. And I'd recommend seeing "Aida" at the ballpark where you can just laugh at the production and eat garlic fries. Plus, you never know, the "Nozze" cast might be wonderful.

The Opera Tattler said...

Darling Michael, It was lovely to see you, as always!

Lisa: Really enjoyed hearing the first Nozze cast in rehearsal on Wednesday, and the production for Werther looks very interesting.

The Last Chinese Unicorn said...

Great to finally meet you! Will you be joining us at Opera in the Park?

Unknown said...

hey mike,

good report and pics. i've properly linked to it. btw, gay photographer rick gerharter emailed me to say the stop the opera action was actually carried out by an affinity group of ACT UP. it was called SANOE, stop aids now or else!


Civic Center said...

Dear Michael P: Thanks for the clarification from rick gerharter about SANOE. I happened to be there that evening and I remember wondering why so many Mission District lesbians were waiting in line for standing room for Opening Night that year. We soon found out, and I actually saw fisticuffs with old tuxedoed patrons flailing away at the activists in the lobby. It was quite wild.