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SF Opera

Calendar of Performances for 2016 & 2017

The SF Opera is the second largest company in North America. Their first performance was Tosca in 1923.

They moved to their current home in the War Memorial Opera House in October 1932. Their popular shows continue to bring in thousands of audience members every year.

Here is the full schedule for the next few seasons.

Fall 2016

Aida

AidaDates: November 5 - December 6

Tickets: On sale

Verdi's grand epic love story of an Egyptian military hero and an Ethiopian slave girl returns with bold new staging.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approx. 2 hours, 55 minutes with one intermission


Madame Butterfly

Madame ButterflyDates: November 6 - December 4

Tickets: On sale

This heartbreaking opera depicts the cultural clash of a trusting young geisha and the American naval officer she marries in Nagasaki.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approx. 2 hours, 45 minutes with one intermission

Free Opera in the Park 2016

Each September, the SF Opera performs one free show in Golden Gate Park to kick off their upcoming season. The 2016 performance is on Sunday, September 11 at 1:30pm in Sharon Meadow.

Summer 2017

Rigoletto

RigolettoDates: May 31 - July 1, 2017

Tickets: On sale soon

Another masterpiece by Verdi, this opera features seduction, betrayal, and bitter revenge as a curse shatters the lives of a hunchbacked court jester and his innocent daughter.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approx. 2 hours, 30 minutes with one intermission


Don Giovanni

Don GiovaniDates: June 4 - 30

Tickets: On sale soon

Opera's most famous libertine brings Mozart's classic to life, mercilessly seducing, murdering, and betraying, until a ghostly dinner brings retribution.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approx. 3 hours, 10 minutes with one intermission


La Boheme

La BohemeDates: June 10 - July 2

Tickets: On sale soon

A beautiful opera full of sweeping melodies that paint the joy and sorrow of 19th-century struggling artists in Paris.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Approx. 2 hours, 20 minutes with one intermission

What to Wear to a Performance

The dress in San Francisco, and most of California, is casual. At the SF Opera, you will see attendees dressed in everything from suits or dresses to jeans.

Even though the city is casual, I recommend dressing up just a little. Smart casual (or business casual) is your best choice.

war memorial opera house

The gorgeous lobby of the War Memorial Opera House in the Civic Center district.

Many people come to these shows after work or a nice dinner, so most will be dressed in this manner. This will allow you to fit in, but not be over or under dressed for the show.

Before your visit, I also recommend checking out my "What to Wear" page. Here you will find recommendations on what to pack based on the weather for the season you are visiting.

Restaurant Recommendations Nearby

The best place to find a great restaurant before the show is in the nearby Hayes Valley neighborhood. This area has some of the best new and established restaurants in the city.

Here you will find everything from the upscale Jardiniere to the grab and go options at Arlequin. Discover more of my favorites in the area here.

Tips to Get Here

The War Memorial Opera House is at 301 Van Ness Avenue. Since it's right in the city center, it's easy to get to from most SF neighborhoods.

Driving: One of the most popular options is to drive. While this isn't necessary, you will find several great parking garages nearby. Many charge a $20 event fee, so make sure you are prepared for the additional charge. Here is more information on the best garages in the area.

Public Transit from Union Square

  • Muni buses: There are two buses that pick up on Market Street and stop every two blocks:
    • 21 Hayes: This bus will drop you about a block south of the Opera House at Hayes and Van Ness. It's the best option if you are having dinner before the show in Hayes Valley (stay on the bus until the Hayes and Franklin stop to get to Hayes Valley).
    • 5 Fulton: This bus will drop you about a half a block north of the Opera House. Get off the bus at the McAllister and Van Ness Street stop.

Public Transit from Fisherman's Wharf

  • 47 Caltrain: This bus picks up on the northern side of Fisherman's Wharf - along North Point Street. It makes stops every two blocks. Take it to the McAllister Street stop, which will put you right in front of the steps to the building.

More on the War Memorial Opera House

I love attending performances at the War Memorial Opera House. As I mentioned above, this gorgeous building opened in 1932. It was one of the last Beaux-Arts structures built in the US.

This 3,146-seat auditorium houses several events including all of the SF Opera and SF Ballet performances.

The minute you step into the lobby, you know you are in for a treat. Take some time walking around and admiring all of its features.

Also, make sure you step around to the sides. This is where you will find two tapestries from the 1700s. The picture below shows just one of these magnificent pieces.

war memorial tapestry

The auditorium is just as beautiful. Even though it's been remodeled over the years, they did a great job in keeping its original look.

war memorial opera house inside

These are the beautiful finishes above and to the sides of the stage. You will find these types of finishes throughout the auditorium.

Tours of the War Memorial Opera House

While it's most fun to attend an event here, if there are no shows playing during your visit, you can also go on a guided tour for a look inside this beautiful building.

Every Monday (except holidays) at from 10am to 2pm, the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center offers a walking tour for the public. The tours leave every hour from the Grove Street entrance of the Davies Symphony Hall.

The tours are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors (cash only).

You don't need a reservations, just walk in and the volunteers will set you up for the next scheduled tour.

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The Perfect Day in the Civic Center & Alamo Square: These two districts sit near each other in the heart of San Francisco, so it's perfect to visit them in the same day. This self-guided tour offers you the best route to take when visiting these two districts. You can go at your own pace and see the best that these two districts offer.

Asian Art Museum: Another popular stop in this district is the Asian Art Museum. It focuses on Asian art from China, Japan, and India. It also showcases a number of gorgeous pieces from smaller Asian countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Nepal. It's one of my favorite museums in the city and must see when visiting this area.

City Hall: I also love making a stop at City Hall. From Monday to Friday, they invite the public to take a look at their magnificent structure. It's free to enter (though you will need to go through security). Make sure to visit their small museum, the photo exhibit on the lower level, and the breathtaking marble staircase.

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