Of Opera and Baseball

Janos Gereben on October 21, 2014
DiDonato, supporting the other team (Amos Otis and Steve Busby were star players with the Royals in the 1970s)
DiDonato, supporting the other team (Amos Otis and Steve Busby were star players with the Royals in the 1970s)

Those not captured by post-season baseball mania, please check the NBL website, and do that before 5 p.m. today if you don't want to miss the action.

Consider the source of the following story: Tom Reed, a key member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus since the birth of the company, is a keen observer and reporter, but also a noted wit — so you decide if this is a true story:

Not all of us artistic types are sports fans. Case in point: Downstairs at the Opera House last night during the performance of Ballo [during the second Giants-Nationals game, an epic 18-inning struggle], as we changed costumes for the next scene, an excited chorister entered a chorus dressing room and announced, "The bases are loaded!" Immediately came the response, "Well, they had better not go on stage in that condition!"

This just in: Reed says the scene played out, word by word. I, for one, don't doubt, only double over.

But this is no joke for sure: Kudos to Opera Czar David Gockley for allowing (encouraging?) the posting of Giants scores on the Supertitles screen in intermissions. After the first game against St. Louis, audience members remonstrated with the officials about the lack of such information, recalling the halcyon days of a German Papageno singing 49ers score (in English) from the stage. So now we have at least intermission announcements (although singing the score from the stage would not have interfered with this Partenope), and might have been just another directorial shtick.

My heart goes out to artists listening backstage to the roar of the crowd, wondering why they are not getting ovations like that, but there may well be "artistic types" among them who enjoy the improbable triumphs of a team from a city the size of only 10 Seychelles.

If you want to relive the last, glorious game against the Nationals, that's on the web too.

It all turned out well — later, and the cheer went up in the Opera House
It all turned out well — later, and the cheer went up in the Opera House

And good luck to KC Royals superfan Joyce diDonato (former Merolina and ex-San Franciscan), who wants to sing the National Anthem at the World Series. (Surely not today, when she is singing in Paris — France, not Illinois or Kentucky.) I do understand the vagaries of locational loyalty, having evolved from an Atchison, KS, alumnus to a fully formed Giants maniac.

Joyce's (Kansas) fans are asking for lobbying the NBL.

Here's an opinion to counter, rather vehemently, the marriage of baseball and opera:

Nothing like seeing sports scores at intermissions to blast you out of the mood in which the previous act may have put you. Sorry but I don't believe any sport should interfere with an artistic event. In fact, that is what is largely wrong with the sports scene in this country; the prevailing opinion that sports event can force its way into any venue. artistic or not. I don't go to the opera to see the sports scores but to get away from all of that nonsense.

Similar objections were heard when Supertitles were introduced, are heard often to this day when a director "takes liberties," and what do you do with coughers, foot-shufflers, smartphone users, conversationalists? As long as opera is a community event, you have to take the community with action onstage, only hoping some measure of civility will prevail.

I don't know her name, but my Il trovatore seatmate provided a shining example. At age 9, and probably at her first live opera, she tapped her shoes to the music at the beginning, responded quickly to a polite request to stop, and then spent the next three hours in rapt attention. I bet she is also a Giants fan.