Friday, October 15, 2021

San Francisco Opera: Livestreams and the Return of OperaVision

Interior of the War Memorial Opera House
December, 2019

Back in May, 2019, a letter from Matthew Shilvock, general director of San Francisco Opera, to some subscribers included this:

Knowing that you are a subscriber who attends OperaVision-supported performances in the Balcony of the Opera House, it is with great sadness that I share, while we will have OperaVision this June, we will cease this service going forward.

The equipment was past its useful life and would be very expensive to replace, therefore, etc.

So imagine my surprise when I opened an email from SFO the other day and noticed this:

Please note the following performances of Fidelio will have OperaVision in the Balcony: October 14, 17, and 20.

I couldn't recall a press release about this, so I made inquiries, and Jeff McMillan of the company's communications department told me this:

As we announced in May 2019 when San Francisco Opera had to curtail OperaVision, the Media Suite was in need of critical capital upgrades that we were not in a position to make at the time.

During the pandemic, the Company received a generous gift from Dianne and Tad Taube, long-time champions of San Francisco Opera’s innovative work. That gift allowed for the replacement of much of the internal workings of our Media Suite, bringing it up to a contemporary level of operation, and ensuring the stability needed to provide such offerings as the Livestreams. With the advent of Livestreams, we have the chance to bring OperaVision back for select performances. 

This is good news all around. OperaVision sells tickets; there are folks who buy their balcony seats specifically for OperaVision dates. I myself was initially skeptical, but the direction of the OperaVision streaming has ranged from good to superb; the 2017 Elektra was especially great. And the investment in the Media Suite has made livestreams of SFO's productions possible. If you want to see the Fidelio livestream, there's information here. Note that they are really and truly live, taking place during the live performance. They can't be streamed after the fact, only in real time.

Big thanks to Dianne and Tad Taube for making this possible.


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