And not a clue where to begin. Partly because I'm a bit exhausted still; partly because I'm in the midst of writing reviews of what I saw, and I want to have those done with before I start rambling at characteristic length here. Still, silence is tedious.
Operagoing in San Francisco is a gorgeous experience, though I'd need a lot more practice to begin to feel like an habituée. My local house is probably the most globally recognisable opera house there is, but I've always craved one which actually looked like an opera house, which San Francisco's does. Columns and arches on the outside, gold and marble aplenty on the inside. The theatre itself was almost too much grandeur for little me; I think it took until the second night before I was able to calmly contemplate and take it in.
On Night One the usher was friendly and helpful. On Night Two he recognised me. By Afternoon Three he knew my name. Now that's what I want my opera house experience to be. That's my version of Cheers. There are people I've known a year or longer who I suspect might still struggle to come up with my surname; and I know from my own experience that I can take much longer than three days to learn the name of a customer only ever seen in passing.
People cough, but not, I think, as chronically as in Sydney. Or perhaps there's just more space for the sound of hacking to be lost in. Or perhaps I was just concentrating on the stage, which had a slightly uncanny tendency to be filled with People I Adore. There was a sweet or two noisily unwrapped beside me. And there was, of course, the man who, I swear, spent much of Monday night's Lucia engaged in toad impressions.
On Saturday morning, after a delightful bloggers' brunch with Dr. B, I walked along Grove St. past the opera house and noticed block upon block of vaguely familiar artificial flower beds sitting outside. I stopped to look and spotted the writing along their sides — they were the garden sets from Lucia. Maybe it was Loge at my shoulder, but I felt compelled to obtain a souvenir. Thankfully for my conscience, I found a loose little sprig of fake foliage sitting at edge of one of the blocks. Reader, I took it. Don't sue me, SFO. It is green and purple, with a hint of glitter — and you can see its cousins in this video, spending quality time with a particularly delightful French soprano.
Meanwhile, in the world beyond Civic Center...
You've seen the photo below of my Amoeba haul. Thank god I'm so genre-specific, or I'd never have escaped from the depths of that shop so relatively unscathed. I'm proud of all my purchases, but one deserves special mention. It will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody that I own quite a few recordings of Yvonne Kenny. In fact, if you were to compare a list of my collection to one of her complete discography, you'd find, by my count, six items missing. Two of which I have heard frequently enough not to own any time soon. The others, well, one day... But before I visited Amoeba, there were seven items on the list. Since I was there, wandering amazed in a world of out of print goodness, I thought — I might as well look. Specifically, I thought I might as well look for the Harnoncourt recordings of the Hunt and Peasant Cantatas. I made my way to the Bach cantata section, which takes up about three vertical rows. Bracing myself for a long and fruitless search, I flipped the section header forward — and there it was. The first CD in the section. Sitting there waiting patiently for me for lord knows how long. Mine now. And as an added bonus, she's unexpectedly fabulous in it. So speaks bias, I know; but even by my skewed standards for her, she's exceptionally good — she really should have done a lot more Bach. And now all I need is the other Messiah (she did two), the other Pulcinella (again, two), Dewi Saint and the Inoue Mahler 4, and I'm complete. No hurry.
Completely off-topic — opera house aside, my favourite place in San Francisco was the Musée Mechanique. As far as non soprano-based enjoyment goes, you can't do much better than restored antique arcade games. I had my fortune told, watched The Opium Den and The French Execution in action, saw the Earthquake and Fire in Glorious 3D, was traumatised by Laffin' Sal and learned what, To Be Happy, Every Married Woman Must Not Avoid. Alcatraz was pretty excellent too.