Renovations Will Allow for Better Views at War Memorial Opera House

Seat replacements in the War Memorial Opera House will provide audience members with better views and comfort. The renovations will begin in the spring of 2021.

The historic opera house, which is home to both San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet, will undergo its final stage in seat renovations in the spring and summer of 2021 to replace the building’s original seats from 1932 in the Orchestra, Grand Tier and Dress Circle sections.

The new seating will be wider with more leg room, and will be better improved in ergonomic support, creating an overall more comfortable experience for the audience. Not only will the audience have better back support, but they will also have a better view of the stage. In the Orchestra section, the renovations will include staggering the seats to improve sightlines. In addition, the War Memorial Opera House will have new accessible seating areas created for those with disabilities and patrons using wheelchairs.

The renovations are managed by the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera, along with The Shalleck Collaborative and the City’s Department of Public Works. This is the third and final phase of the seat replacement project which began in 2013.

As the seat installations will take place May–August, 2021, during both resident organization’s seasons, SF Ballet and SF Opera will both be changing their schedules in the 2021 and 2020-21 season, respectively. San Francisco Ballet is looking to perform their last two programs at the Orpheum Theatre, managed by BroadwaySF and San Francisco Opera will move their summer shows to mid-spring.  


A full list of Frequently Asked Questions about the renovation can be found on San Francisco Ballet’s website.

Seattle Opera Reveals 2020-21 Season

While everyone else was busy celebrating the New Year, Seattle Opera was looking further ahead to their next season. The opera company has just announced their 2020-21 season which promises audiences passion, laughter, tragedy and discovery. Their exciting season will include new productions of classics, an opera entirely new to Seattle, and an old favorite returning to the stage.

Season ticket packages are available for purchase now, while single opera tickets will become available later in the year.

Pagliacci & Cavalleria Rusticana

August 8-22, 2020

Experience twice the drama and twice the thrill with an earthy new production of opera’s classic double bill. Small-town lives are turned upside down when a returning soldier and a vengeful clown upset provincial norms, resulting in shocking crimes of passion. In a single performance, two distinct yet complementary tales of adultery, jealousy, and revenge explore elemental emotions in true verismo style.

Guy Montavon’s highly theatrical new production transforms the public squares of southern Italy into a revolving mask-filled arena, with eye-catching commedia dell’arte costumes for Leoncavallo’s clowns. As the chorus watches like spectators at a coliseum, the characters cannot escape their tragic fates.

Pagliacci: Music and Libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Cavalleria rusticana: Music by Pietro Mascagni; Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci

The Elixir of Love

October 17-31, 2020

Utterly enjoyable from first sip to last, this fizzy concoction is opera’s most winning comedy. A lovestruck bumpkin is about to lose the company of a rich and independent landowner. Crossing paths with a quack doctor, he soon gets duped in more ways than one. Wine, a windfall, and a fateful “furtive tear” eventually reveal happy truths as sincerity triumphs amid much rejoicing.

Not seen in Seattle since 1998, the colorful comedy returns with a “well-staged and heartfelt” (Santa Fe Reporter) production that has everything: winking humor, relatable human characters, and a charming love story—all set to masterful bel canto music that makes the soul sing.

Music by Gaetano Donizetti; Libretto by Felice Romani

Cast in Opera Philadelphia production of 'Elixir of Love.'
Cast in Opera Philadelphia production of ‘Elixir of Love.’ Photo by Kelly & Massa
Don Giovanni

January 16-30, 2021

What goes around comes around on Mozart’s carousel of karma. Legendary libertine Don Giovanni is skilled in seduction yet lacks a moral compass, thoughtlessly moving from conquest to conquest, even murdering without remorse. But a dark fate will bring his joyride to a shocking conclusion, leaving the survivors who knew him forever changed. Filled with varied and evocative music of perfect elegance, Mozart’s complex creation stands apart as his boldest masterpiece.

Staged and conducted by female artists, an all-new production brings unique insight to a timeless portrait of the ultimate predator. Glamorous costumes combine period silhouettes with modern sensibility. The action plays out on a multifaceted carnival ride whose chic exterior promises pleasure and abundance while concealing a rotten core.

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte

Flight

February 27-March 13, 2021

What would you do if you were stranded indefinitely? Based on actual events—stateless refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri’s 18-year forced residency at Charles de Gaulle airport—this ensemble dramedy “soars high” (Opera Today), with “a colorful, energetic, tonally accessible score and a relatable, witty libretto” (OPERA NEWS). An omniscient air traffic controller watches over a departure lounge bustling with cynical flight attendants, an excitable couple on vacation, a mysterious older woman, and an Eastern European diplomat and his expectant wife, all of whom must wait out a storm. Meanwhile, the hapless refugee plays cat and mouse with an immigration officer as the story darts deftly between humor and moving meditations on love, identity, and human connection.

Set in the everyday world of an airport terminal, the Seattle premiere of this “uniquely satisfying” (Guardian UK) production surprises with vibrant theatrical touches and energetic ensemble movement. The opera’s vignettes are presented with winning humor, but without easy resolutions. In the end we discover that it is compassion (both for ourselves and for one another) that will see us through to fly another day.

Music by Jonathan Dove; Libretto by April De Angelis

Ausrine Stundyte and Stefano Secco in Seattle Opera's 2015 production of 'Tosca'.
Ausrine Stundyte and Stefano Secco in Seattle Opera’s 2015 production of ‘Tosca’. Photo by Elise Bakketun
Tosca

May 8-23, 2021

Don’t mess with the diva! A fiery prima donna struggles to free her true love from the clutches of a ruthless police chief in Puccini’s surefire favorite. Filled with iconic arias and impressive musical moments, the rousing score brings Tosca’s emotional extremes into sharp relief as the story rushes towards its thrilling conclusion. The crackling melodrama grabs hold from the get-go, making Tosca ideal for anyone who loves drama and music.

Two international headliners alternate in the title role. The “superb” (Sidney Morning Herald) Saioa Hernández “won La Scala hearts [in] an instant love affair between soprano and audience” (Bachtrack). And the “splendid” (Das Opernglas) Armenian soprano Karine Babajanyan, whose “voice is strong and appealingly colored, sings with confidence and intelligence” (OPERA).

Music by Giacomo Puccini; Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica


Season tickets for Seattle Opera’s 2020-21 season are available online. All performances will take place at McCaw Hall.

Bay Area’s Best New Year’s Eve Performances

If you want to avoid the crazy crowds this New Year’s Eve, we’ve made a list of ways to ring in 2020 with help from some of the best performing arts groups in the area. Spend this New Year’s Eve in the company of jazz legends, Broadway stars and celebrity comedians.

Whether you are looking for something fun to do during the day or looking for an evening party to ring in 2020, we’ve got the perfect selection to help make your choice. We’ve scoured San Francisco for the best ways to spend December 31, ensuring your New Year will start the right way with music, dancing, friends and fun.

Shen Yun Performing Arts

Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired.

A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops—together creating one spectacular performance.

December 31 at 2 p.m. at War Memorial Opera House. Tickets are available online.

A Baroque New Year’s Eve at the Opera

At the end of last season’s enormously successful New Year’s Eve concert, American Bach Soloists Music Director Jeffrey Thomas announced that they’d be back at the end of 2019 for a reprise of the event. Make your reservations for a delightful program of arias and instrumental music from opera and concert. 

This early night on the town in San Francisco’s beautiful Herbst Theatre—a cornerstone and jewel among the city’s most prestigious venues—will joyfully ring in the New Year in elegant style. 

Bring your friends and celebrate a New Year full of wonderful music!

December 31 at 4 p.m. at Herbst Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Groundhog Day: The Musical

It’s February 2nd in Punxsutawney, PA, and a storm is coming. Phil Connors, a big-city weatherman, couldn’t be more frustrated to be to reporting on the small-town Groundhog Day Ceremony—until he finds himself reliving the same day over and over again. Stuck in an endless loop of arrogance and cynicism amongst the cheery townsfolk, Phil must learn to take advantage of his second, third, and fourth chances and break the cycle.

December 31 @ 7 p.m. at San Francisco Playhouse. Tickets are available online.

New Year’s Eve with Seth MacFarlane and the SF Symphony

Celebrate in style with Grammy Award-nominated singer, actor, and director Seth MacFarlane, who brings a winning combination of rich crooning and cool pizazz that would do Frank and Dino proud. Watch him light up the stage with the SF Symphony in a performance of jazz standards and holiday favorites conducted by Edwin Outwater.

December 31 at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall. Tickets are available online.

New Year’s Eve Funk Party with Maceo Parker

Ring in the New Year with the king of the funky saxophone and one of the primary architects of modern R&B, Maceo Parker along with a special guest, saxophonist Candy Dulfer. Parker spent the first half of his career in the service of funk’s founding fathers, and in his second act as a bandleader, the unrelentingly soulful saxophonist/vocalist has ascended into the funk firmament in his own right, leading a righteously grooving outfit that plays with ecstatic precision and ferocious drive.

December 31 at 8 p.m. in the Miner Auditorium at SFJAZZ center. Tickets are available online.

An Evening with Sutton Foster

A special New Year’s Eve concert with Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster. In this one-night-only, tour-de-force performance, triple threat Sutton Foster takes audiences on a musical journey, performing songs and sharing stories from her extensive Broadway career, including Anything Goes, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the upcoming Broadway revival of The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman.

Don’t miss this special New Year’s Eve event with one of Broadway’s most celebrated performers.  

December 31 at 9 p.m. at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater. Tickets are available online.

The Art of Gifting

It’s just about time for the true panic of holiday shopping to set in. If you haven’t finished checking everyone off your list, or if you’ve been invited last minute to a holiday party and need a gift for the host, we’ve got you covered.

In a world of instantly delivered Amazon presents and high-tech gifts, give your friends and family something different—give the gift of an experience.

We’ve put together a list of some Bay Area organizations that offer the gift of art and, you got it, experience. Plus, all these options are available online, so you can still have the convenience of online shopping while giving something much more meaningful.

American Conservatory Theater

A.C.T. offers gift certificates that can be redeemed for a myriad of items and services including tickets to performances, season packages, A.C.T. merchandise, costume rentals, and even acting classes. Talk about a versatile gift!

Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Berkeley Rep offers gift certificates that can be used to purchase performance tickets or used for class registration fees. Give the gift of theatre and theatre-making!

California Shakespeare Theater

The Cal Shakes 2020 season doesn’t start until May, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead for springtime. Give the gift of an outdoor theatre subscription to someone who loves the classics—the perfect cure for those winter blues.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

TheatreWorks is offering specially priced subscription packages for the holidays. You can save 50% off single ticket prices and purchase either three shows for $120 or four shows for $160.  

San Francisco Ballet

SF Ballet also offers gift certificates which can be used on ticket purchases. SF Ballet’s full 2020 season begins in January. Make sure the dance enthusiast on your list is ready!

San Francisco Opera

SF Opera’s gift shop offers branded keepsakes, as well as an entire collection of Wagner’s Ring cycle merchandise for the most die-hard fan. Or, if you’re not quite sure what they want, SF Opera also offers gift certificates that can be used for performance tickets and subscriptions for mainstage shows.

San Francisco Symphony

San Francisco Symphony offers the ability to customize a gift certificate with design options and box for your personal message. They can be redeemed for concerts at Davies Symphony Hall.

SFJAZZ

Not only does SFJAZZ offer customizable gift certificates, but they also have a well-stocked online shop with CDs and DVDs, apparel, posters, totes and much more.

Book-It Names First New Artistic Director in 30-Year History

The announcement of naming Gus Menary as the new artistic director comes after a four month national search.

The announcement marks a momentous occasion for the theatre, as Gus Menary will be the first male Artistic Director for Book-It Repertory Theatre and only the second in its 30-year history. Co-Founding Artistic Directors Jane Jones and Myra Platt incorporated Book-It in 1990 with the vision of adapting literature into theatre. But while many theatres around the world adapt other works into plays, Book-It continues to have one rule that makes a piece Book-It Style™: it must be literature and there can be no editing or playwriting added.

Gus Menary will be coming to Book-It from his position as the Artistic Director of Jackalope Theatre Company in Chicago, which Menary was a founding company member. Jackalope Theatre’s focus on developing new works was a determining factor for the hiring committee, with Menary facilitating in the development of over 40 new plays during his tenure. Stuart Frank, Book-It board president and hiring committee chairman stated, “He has proven experience in building and running a theatre company dedicated to new work development. The rigorous curiosity required to undertake and nurture this work will be an incredible asset to the community, and his infectious enthusiasm will be a guiding light for Book-It’s journey into the future.”

Menary will begin preparing for his new position full-time on January 2, 2020 and will work closely with Jane Jones and Myra Platt over the next eight months. He will take over leadership in August 2020. Jones and Platt intend on introducing Menary to the Seattle and Book-It communities while he participates in season planning for the 2020-21 season and familiarizes himself with the staff, board and Book-It Style.

Menary comes to Book-It with a true appreciation of literature in addition to his love of theatre, stating, “Book-It’s focus on adaptation is, in some ways, brand new to me, but as someone who reads voraciously, it’s a facet of theatremaking that has always greatly interested me…In a very real way, this opportunity feels like fate. It’s my hope that I’m able to continue Book-It’s streak of artistic excellence and captivating, diverse work that includes and uplifts the voices and stories of many people. I’m extremely excited, and I’m extremely honored that they would place their trust in me.”

SIFF Names Andrew L. Haines as Executive Director

Yesterday SIFF announced that Andrew L. Haines will take over the role of executive director in January as Amy Fulford steps down from serving as interim executive director. Fulford served as interim since last March when former Executive Director Sarah Wilke stepped down.

Haines will come to SIFF after serving as director of marketing and communications at Seattle Rep since 2015, where he was also on the leadership team. Haines was responsible for all promotion and communication of Seattle Rep’s artistic programming and core values. He oversaw the marketing, communications, business operations and patron experience departments. Through his leadership, Seattle Rep increased subscriptions by 45 percent over three years.  

Before his role at Seattle Rep, Haines held multiple positions in sales including executive director of the National Group Sales Division, in which he was responsible for more than $32 million in annual ticket sales.

Haines showed excitement about his new role saying, “I am honored to join SIFF, one of the preeminent film organizations in North America, as the next executive director. This is an exciting time for SIFF, and I look forward to collaborating with the staff and board to advance the mission, expand audiences, and deepen engagement within the community.” 

As executive director, Haines will have the opportunity to share his experience in sales and engagement as the Seattle International Film Festival celebrates its 46th year in 2020, in addition to overseeing the year-round cinema and education programs. A fact that SIFF’s team is enthusiastic about. “I’m looking forward to working with and learning from Andrew, who brings a wealth of experience to SIFF,” said Beth Barrett, SIFF’s artistic director. “We are so pleased to have a leader who has exciting new ideas about audience engagement and enhancing our ability to deliver our mission.”

Historic Seattle and STG Partner Up to Buy The Showbox

Historic Seattle, who spearheaded the successful campaign to name The Showbox a City of Seattle Landmark, announced that they have submitted a formal offer to purchase The Showbox with the help of Seattle Theatre Group (STG), the non-profit organization that operates The Paramount, Moore and Neptune Theatres.  

“Historic preservation is not solely about protecting a physical building, it’s about preserving the nature of what happens within it,” said Ricardo Frazer, board chair of STG. “That is why we are compelled to stand beside Historic Seattle in this effort. In an era when the redevelopment of cultural space is far too common, we fear what the loss of this iconic venue would mean to our region.”

When it was announced in July 2018 that the 80-year-old venue would be demolished and the property redeveloped into apartments, there was a loud outcry from the Seattle community. A temporary ordinance by the Seattle City Council blocked development by placing The Showbox within the Pike Place Market Historical District and the developer dropped out.

After a King County Superior Court judge overturned the ordinance, a settlement between the city and the owner of The Showbox, Roger Forbes, was struck. Part of this deal ensured that the city would have first right to purchase The Showbox at Forbes’ asking price.

The partnership between Historic Seattle and STG includes an offer to purchase the venue, as well as advocating for “controls” to be placed to protect The Showbox in case they are unable to purchase, and the venue goes to another buyer. These controls would protect certain character-defying elements of the venue from being destroyed.

“As we continue our due diligence and look forward to the opportunity to negotiate with the property’s owner, Historic Seattle will not back down in our fight to protect The Showbox. Landmarks deserve protection,” said Eugenia Woo, director of preservation services at Historic Seattle.

These discussions will take place at the public meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Board on December 18. Historic Seattle asks people to come and support and submit comments. More can be learned on Historic Seattle’s website.

Seattle Opera Introduces Artist Recital Series in 2020

An all new way to experience your favorite professional opera singers in an intimate setting is coming in the new year.

To say Seattle Opera has had a big year would be an understatement. From moving to their beautiful new home at the Opera Center, to appointing a new general director, Christina Scheppelmann, 2019 has been a whirlwind of change. And it looks like 2020 will be just as evolutionary for the opera.  

Beginning in January 2020, Seattle Opera will offer an artist recital series which will provide audiences up close and personal performances by Seattle Opera’s mainstage singers. Taking place in the stunning Tagney Jones Hall, the singers will perform opera favorites, popular music, musical theatre classics and more.

Providing an opportunity for singers to showcase their creativity, and for audiences to experience a different avenue to opera, is exactly the drive behind the Opera Center. This is just one fantastic event that Seattle Opera provides to invite the community in; others can be seen on their website.

Information for the two recitals can be seen below.

Melody Wilson

January 17

Mezzo-soprano Melody Wilson takes a break from debut performances in Eugene Onegin to show off her creative range with an eclectic program of art songs. Alongside Berlioz’s iconic, shimmering cycle Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights), rising opera star Wilson will showcase Catalan composer Xavier Montsalvatge’s playful Cinco canciones negras (Five Black Songs).

Angela Brown

February 4

Before taking the stage as Addie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, world-renowned soprano Angela Brown presents a unique recital in Tagney Jones Hall. This concert features musical settings of poetry and prose by American literary legends Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and Mari Evans. Through music, Brown will take the audience on an intimate journey through the lives of these three luminaries and her own, describing her relationship with each writer and how they helped to shape her life and singing career.


Tickets are available now and can be purchased on Seattle Opera’s website.  

TheatreWorks Selects Second Artistic Director in its History

After 50 years of leadership by Founder Robert Kelley, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has chosen a new artistic director in Tim Bond. The announcement comes after Kelley announced his retirement in May 2017.

Tim Bond will come to TheatreWorks from a tenure professorship at the University of Washington’s School of Drama, where he was the Head of the Professional Actor Training Program for the past two years.

Bond began his career with Seattle Group Theatre in 1984, where he progressed to artistic director in 1991, an office he held until 1996. Much like his predecessor, Bond spent much of his time directing West Coast and World Premieres.

“Tim is a highly respected, nationally-known director and educator, and has the open-hearted personal qualities, integrity, and values that TheatreWorks has always treasured…I am thrilled that TheatreWorks has found one of the country’s most prominent arts leaders, and I’m confident that Tim will lead the company boldly into its next half-century.” 

Robert Kelley

From 1996–2007 Bond was an associate artistic director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival where, in addition to directing, he focused his energy on promoting equity and inclusion throughout the company. During his time here he also created the FAIR (Fellowships, Assistantships, Internships, Residencies) program, which strives to achieve equity within the company by creating opportunities for the next generation of theatre practitioners.

Before his current position at UW, Bond was the producing artistic director at Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department of Drama from 2007–2016. During this time Bond produced over 100 shows and promoted partnerships between his company and other regional theatres.

Tim Bond comes to TheatreWorks well-versed in directing, producing and cultivating new plays and musicals. His devotion to equity and diversity within theatre artists and administrators can be charted throughout his career. As Robert Kelley stated, “I can’t wait for the chance to introduce Tim Bond to all of you who have supported the art of TheatreWorks for so long. We are, dear friends, in the very best of hands.”


Before taking his new position, Tim Bond will be directing Cabaret at the University of Washington as well as The Children at Seattle Rep, this February.

10 More Shows Added to Stanford Live’s Season

Stanford Live has added 10 more performances to their 2019-20 Season. Tickets will be available to the public on November 15, 2019. Check out all the great performers, artists and writers coming in the winter and spring of 2020.

Talisman 30th Anniversary Concert

February 8

For their 30th anniversary concert, Talisman alumni and current members from the past three decades will come together to sing and showcase the many voices that have contributed to Talisman’s growth. 

A Night in the Piano Bar with Brandon James Gwinn

February 15

A crowd favorite at NYC’s famous piano bar, Marie’s Crisis, Brandon James Gwinn  is a singer-pianist, composer-lyricist, and producer lauded as “one hell of an entertainer” by the Bistro Awards. For one night only, Gwinn is bringing his unforgettable piano bar experience to the Bing Studio.

Hanzhi Wang

February 16

Praised for her captivating stage presence and performances that are technically and musically masterful, Hanzhi Wang is the only accordionist to ever win a place on the roster of Young Concert Artists.

Sounds of Cuba: Jane Bunnett & Maqueque

Feburary 28–29

Canadian soprano-sax/flutist Jane Bunnett showcases the best young female artists from Cuba. Drummer Yissy Garcia is the heartbeat and power that propels Maqueque.

Common in Conversation

March 3

Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist, actor, and activist, Common continues to break down barriers with a multitude of critically acclaimed, diverse roles, and continued success at the box office.  Let Love Have the Last Word shares Common’s own unique, personal stories of the people and experiences that have led to a greater understanding of love and all it has to offer.

Colin Quinn

March 13

Colin Quinn is a stand-up comedian from Brooklyn (okay, Park Slope). From MTV’s Remote Control to SNL to Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, Mr. Quinn is not one to take a hint and bow out gracefully. 

Bobi Céspedes

March 21

Gladys “Bobi” Céspedes has been at the forefront of representing and promoting Cuban music in the Bay Area and the United States for over 40 years. On her new album, Mujer Y Cantante, Bobi Céspedes thrills us with her prowess as woman and singer. 

Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martinez

March 22

As a result of their beginnings, Rodríguez and Martinez share a natural chemistry that makes for a galvanizing musical experience when they come together. Their first duo outing, Duologue, finds the pair exploring a range of moods and influences, from Cuban classics to collaborative original compositions to a number of unexpected favorites.

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge

April 1 at Memorial Church

April 2 at Bing Concert Hall

The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is known and loved by millions from its broadcasts, concert tours, and over 90 recordings. Founded in the 1670s, the Choir is known for its rich, warm, and distinctive sound, its expressive interpretations and its ability to sing in a variety of styles. 

Margaret Atwood in Conversation

April 8

Acclaimed writer Margaret Atwood will make a visit to Bing Concert Hall for a discussion. Her 2019 release, The Testaments, is a finalist for the Booker Prize.