Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Piave, Taleggio, Rigoletto and other opera adventures

A couple of weeks ago we went out on another opera adventure, rather different from the Opera in the Park scene. Well, okay, not so different that it didn't include food and wine. Ha!

So here's the thing. I thought the SF Opera's latest brainchild, Opera in the Plaza -- a live simulcast of what's onstage in the Opera House to the Civic Center Plaza and Stanford University -- was the kind of thing to engender the same kind of competitive staking of space that the event in Sharon Meadow does.

So I showed up on Friday afternoon at about 2:00 pm ready to fight off all the crowds and lay my tarp down and ...there was no one there. Nary a soul but the guys putting up the giant screen. Not even the usual homeless people -- just the green, green grass and a bunch of plane trees. And me, carrying a picnic basket, a tarp, a blanket and a pump pot for coffee.

Yeah, I called Eric to come pick me up and he kindly refrained from guffawing out an "I told you so..." A work day. A cold, drippy work day. Opera outdoors on a cold, drippy work day. Who the heck did I think was going to be out there?

Okay, so now we've established that I am the craziest person in San Francisco, and that I will go to any lengths to get my picnics.

ANYhow. We came back at around 4:30 pm and met up with the intrepid Ms. Five-and-a-Half and Mr. Thirteen (whom we love because they will also go to the same lengths for a good picnic!). I had to take a break for class and they held down the fort. When I got back though, the sight was dramatic to say the least.

Clouds were starting to break and the crowd had found its way out to the plaza to watch the pre-show.

Check out that screen -- visible from the other side of the city practically. And the music boomed out over the empty space, echoing off the building in a way that made every aria even more spectacular. And the singers. if I were Opera Guy I'd be in love with Mary Dunleavy. What a powerful, delicate voice. Here's a clip of her singing Traviata at the Liceu in Barcelona. Utterly sublime.

As it was "Rigoletto" Ms. Five-and-a-Half and I went with a vaguely Italian trattoria feel. She brought a lovely soft Taleggio and a tasty Piave, and a tomota tart along with the most seductive and delicious polenta bread from Della Fattoria.

It was perfectly heavenly with the Spicy Beef and Pumpkin stew that we had cooked up. Eric went over to Peet's and filled our pump pot with hot coffee... aww man, San Francisco life is so good.

PS. There's a Cheese School in San Francisco? Where do I sign up??

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