Friday, May 15, 2020

If I Were the SF War Memorial and Performing Arts Center....

Interior of the War Memorial Opera House
Photo by Lisa Hirsch
December, 2019

.....I'd be thinking about re-arranging certain scheduled operations taking place in the next year at the opera house.
  • San Francisco Opera fall and spring seasons (September 11 to December 6, 2020; April 25 to May 16, 2021)
  • San Francisco Ballet winter-spring season (dates not yet announced, but let's try December 7, 2020 to May, 2021, if they can run simultaneously with SFO)
  • War Memorial Opera House seating replacement project (May - August 2021)
The opera house seats around 3200, and during performances, there's an orchestra of 40 to 90, plus the on-stage performers, plus lighting, stage, costume, makeup, hair staff, plus ushers, plus people selling stuff at the concession stands and in the gift shop.

Let me guess that replacing the seats would take many fewer people than putting on performances and also let me conjecture that construction projects might be okayed at the state level before gatherings of thousands.

So I'd be on the phone to find out whether the seats (and maybe new carpeting?) could be delivered early. I'd be trying to figure out whether September to December, 2020, could be dedicated to replacing seats, with live performances starting up in January....and running through next summer, to allow SFO and SFB to perform as much of their seasons as possible.

This would be much easier for SFB than for SFO; the ballet is a repertory company of dancers, not a company that is highly dependent on visiting artists, most of whom are here for six weeks to rehearse and perform one work, then leave. (This wasn't always the case in opera; look at the Met archives from the 1900s to 1930s and you see singers here for multiple roles performed over several months.) But everyone's schedules are being disrupted for the next six to eighteen months, so maybe opera companies could find some way to work together on this. Or maybe everything can be recast with singers who don't have out-of-town engagements, or who have workable openings in their own schedules. Philip Skinner in a bunch of leading roles would suit me just fine, for example.

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