MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

The Golden City and Its Opera

photo by  Mike Hofmann

photo by Mike Hofmann

My cover story on San Francisco Opera and how it reflects the city’s love affair with the art is now online in the Spring issue of Opera America magazine.

On October 15, 1932, while the country was sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand of the Great Depression, San Franciscans took time out to ignore the prevailing gloom and celebrate the official opening of the long-coveted home for their new opera company, the $5.5 million War Memorial Opera House. The Naples-born conductor and cultural impresario Gaetano Merola, who had founded San Francisco Opera and inaugurated its first season nine years previously with La bohème, turned once again to Puccini for the occasion and led a performance of Tosca. Addressing the packed audience during intermission, Wallace M. Alexander, the company’s new president, proudly announced: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your opera house, your own rich heritage.”

[Reprinted by permission of Opera America, the quarterly magazine of the national service organization for opera.]

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Filed under: American opera, essay, San Francisco Opera

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