Wednesday, July 10, 2019

News You Can Use, War Memorial Opera House Edition

War Memorial Opera House
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

I reported some time ago that the orchestra and other seats in the War Memorial Opera House were scheduled to be replaced in 2021. Now, an article in the San Francisco Chronical about retiring Performing Arts Center Managing Director Beth Murray contains the following paragraph:
Even now, as Murray packs up her office on the ground floor of the Veterans Building, the 64-year-old can look out her window and see a project she’s steered through planning and design. For instance, the original mansard roof of the Opera House, completed in 1932, will soon be replaced and so will all 1,100 seats on the orchestra level. Those jobs will require the San Francisco Opera and Ballet to shorten their seasons by 14 weeks in 2021.
“Those seats were redone, not replaced, when we renovated the Opera House,” Murray says. “Big mistake.”
She knew it was a mistake as soon as she sat down on opening night of the fall 1997 opera season. “Big mistake,” she repeats. “Those are the original frames. Have you sat there?”
Well, THAT's interesting, isn't it. I queried the press departments at SFO and SFB, which responded as follows:
From SFB We are looking into some very good options on the venue/programming side for that time period at the moment, but do not have concrete plans to share just yet. There is still a lot to iron out on all fronts...we have every intention to keep our patrons and media partners informed in the coming months as soon as we have more info. 
From SFO: San Francisco Opera is looking forward to the forthcoming seat replacement project (in the orchestra level) to improve the experience for our patrons in the War Memorial Opera House. 
We are at the beginning stages of this phase of the project and will be sharing updates, including information about the seats and project timeline, later this fall. 
At this time, we do not have further information to share about seat replacements in other levels of the house (seats in the balcony level of the opera house were replaced in summer 2015). 
Note: the project will not cause San Francisco Opera/San Francisco Ballet to shorten seasons by 14 weeks as stated in the San Francisco Chronicle article, as part of the work will be done during the off-season.
I'm under the impression that the Chron article surprised both organizations a bit. I would have expected the Performing Arts Center to give them a heads-up about the forthcoming article.

Thanks to You You Xia and Julia Inouye for their responses! Looking forward to whatever transpires.

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