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'Carnival' Behind the Curtain at S.F. Opera

San Francisco Opera

Date: Wed October 9, 2013 10:30am

Saturday, Nov. 9, at the War Memorial Opera House, the San Francisco Opera hosts a free, community open house. From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for families; 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., for adults. Last year more than 4,000 people came to the event.

S.F. Open HouseThis is not a performance, rather a carnival at which members of the company engage people in a series of activities about “life behind the curtain.” The scene includes sing-alongs with the San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows; singers will lead the audience through an actual warm-up process. There will be musical demonstrations, by both soloists and the orchestra, along with stage combat workshops, in which you can learn how to fake a punch and fall down safely. Also, costume, wig, and makeup demonstrations, where you can try on costumes, and then photograph yourself or ask a professional.

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley will be there to meet and greet. There’s also a scavenger hunt, prop making, and costume crafts; workshops are designed for both families (in the morning) and adults (in the afternoon). Exhibits, including costume displays, will also be featured, and attendees can enter to win tickets to San Francisco Opera’s The Barber of Seville or The Barber of Seville for Families.

The event is paid for in part by a grant from OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences Grant Program.

“Our question,” says Ruth Nott, the Opera’s education director, “is how do we continue to provide opportunities to be learners; whether adults or kids. And how do get people engaged and then keep them engaged?”

For scheduling reasons, the opera’s outreach program this year did not include the annual free concert at AT&T Park, which may return next June.

The Opera’s open house includes an arrangement with Off the Grid, a food-truck organization that will cater to patrons waiting in line. Last year some people waited up to an hour to get in.

While attendees of all ages are welcome throughout the day, activities during the morning session (beginning at 10:30 a.m.) will be geared mainly toward families, including children in strollers. The afternoon session (beginning at 12 p.m.) will provide more opportunities for adult patrons. In that second session, beer and wine will be available at the outdoor loggia, located on the Grand Tier level.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is