Bay Area opera fans are lucky indeed to live in such a fertile area for opera. From world-renowned professional companies to amateur efforts, the Bay Area is full of operatic options. Whatever your favorites, there’s a little something for everyone this year in the Bay Area scene. And if you’re new to opera, check one of these performances out — you may just fall in love.


Marines Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter S
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 771-6900

Dates: June 3
Price: $15-$40

For an informal introduction to opera, check out the performances of San Francisco’s Pocket Opera. Artistic Director Donald Pippin stages small interpretations of classic operas using a small cast and an eight to 15 person orchestra in intimate settings. Often the opera’s text has been translated into English, making it more accessible to opera newcomers. Staging and props are minimal because the actors’ talents are more than impressive on their own.

The opera “Teseo,” composed by George Frideric Handel, will be performed by Pocket Opera in June. “Teseo” is one of Handel’s lesser-performed works, and is based loosely on the Greek myth of Theseus, the founder of Athens. It was first performed in 1713, but in the last few decades has been part of a revival of Handel’s lesser-known works.


Opera in the Park
San Francisco Opera
301 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dates: Opera in the Park – September 9 at 1:30 p.m., Opera in the Ballbark with “Rigoletto” – September 15 at 8 p.m.
Price: Free, but registration required through the San Francisco Opera website

The world-famous San Francisco opera will be beginning its 2012-2013 season with two events that are free and open to the public. Opera in the Park, held in Golden Gate Park, will host a collection of music featuring the stars of the upcoming season. This is the first preview of the talent that can be seen in performances throughout the season. Find you favorite opera star and check out which shows they will be performing in.

Opera in the Ballpark, at AT&T Park in SOMA, will include a live simulcast of the SFO’s opera of the season, “Rigoletto.” “Rigoletto” was written by Guiseppe Verdi and is considered one of his masterpieces, originally based on a play by Victor Hugo. The opera centers around an Italian dukedom, and its political overtones were thought controversial when first performed.

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War Memorial Opera House
401 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 864-3330

Dates: November 15 through December 2
Price: Starting at $50, more information on prices will be released this summer

Giacomo Puccini is one of the best-known opera composers. His operas include “La Boheme” and “Madama Butterfly,” among numerous others. The San Francisco Opera will be performing his popular, three-act opera “Tosca,” with noted singer Angela Gheorghiu leading one of the two alternating casts. Gheorghiu, a native of Romania, has performed in many leading roles across the globe, including performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House in London.

“Tosca” tells the intertwining story of a singer, painter and police chief. This unique performance will have you on the edge of your seat throughout with constant thrills in every scene.


“Die Fledermaus”
California Theatre
345 S 1st St
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 437-4450

Dates: November 10 through November 25
Price: $50-$120

In the South Bay, Opera San Jose has planned a series of beloved classics for its upcoming season. Opera San Jose has a unique approach to opera. Its founder and general director Irene Dalis, founded the company in 1988. This opera group forms its resident company by offering contracts to operatic singers in the early years of their careers, providing a unique opportunity for both the performers to develop their skills and the audience to participate in the future of opera.

In November, Opera San Jose will be performing “Die Fledermaus,” Johann Strauss’s popular operetta. “Die Fledermaus,” a farcical tale of mistaken identity, is set in 19th century Vienna, and is accompanied by Strauss’s beautiful waltzes. It is one of the most popular operatic works performed across the world.

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Laura Tarwater-Scharp is a freelance writer, editor and historian. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over a decade. Her work can be found at