San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera’s 97th Opening Gala

The San Francisco Opera Opening Night production of Romeo and Juliet inspired the gala theme of “The Capulets’ Masked Ball.”


Los Angeles has the Oscar’s Red Carpet, New York has the Met Ball, and San Francisco has its Opera opening galas that are their equal in glamour and excitement. For many, it is a tradition to attend the prestigious Opera Gala that opens the San Francisco fall social season and is one of the West Coast’s most glamorous events.

The Opera Guild produced the highly anticipated opening night gala that launched the San Francisco Opera 2019-20 season.

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San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera Celebrates its 96th Season

Not only does the Opera Gala open the fall season, but also it is an opportunity to meet up with friends after the summer hiatus—to see and be seen.


The San Francisco Opera opened its 2018–19 season with its annual weekend of celebratory affairs, including two sold-out galas—Opera Ball 2018: ¡Viva La Noche!and the BRAVO! CLUB Opening Night Gala, one of the grandest and most opulent events in the city.

Opera aficionados enjoyed a double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (or Cav/Pag), set in Argentina, which inspired the theme of the evening. Continue reading

San Francisco Social Diary: The SF Opera Opening Ball

Artist David Hockney designed stunning sets for Turandot, kicking off the San Francisco Opera’s 95th season and its Opening Night Gala.


At the 2017 San Francisco Opera Opening Ball, one of the West Coast’s premiere philanthropic evenings, more than 3,000 opera fans enjoyed a champagne promenade, dinner in an “Imperial Palace,” a performance of Puccini’s Chinese-themed Turandot, and a hopping after-party.

The Ball kicked off the 95th season of the SF Opera and the last season for which Maestro Nicola Luisotti will be company music director.

Though he’s leaving the SF Opera, Maestro Luisotti will return for future engagements as a guest conductor.

Opera Guild President Jane Mudge and Event Chairs Courtney Labe and Maryam Muduroglu hosted the Ball, along with Honorary Chairs John and Cynthia Gunn and Diane Wilsey. Alex Petalas and Victoria Weatherford co-chaired the BRAVO! Gala (for the younger set).

Opera Ball Co-Chair Courtney Labe (in Lily Samii), Opera Guild President Jane Mudge (in Marchesa), and Opera Ball Co-Chair Maryam Muduroglu (in Lily Samii).

Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock (wearing a vintage Armani suit from a SF Opera production of Lulu), Kate Shilvock (in Lily Samii), fashion designer Lily Samii, Rita Simonini, former General Director David Gockley, Linda Kemper, and Music Director Nicola Luisotti.

BRAVO! Board members Anjali Menon, Laurie Diab, Kari Coomans, Alex Jakle, Shannon Eliot, Xanadu Bruggers, Victoria Weatherford, Laura Della Guardia, Alexander Petalas, Katie Bryant, Susan Walker, Leah Fine, Rachel Lem, Aris Damji, and Nicole Jiam.

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San Francisco Social Diary: The San Francisco Opera’s “Dream of the Red Chamber”

A day after its Opening Gala, the San Francisco Opera presented Dream of the Red Chamber, a gorgeous multi-national production based on a classic Chinese novel.


The San Francisco Opera held the world premiere of the Chinese opera Dream of the Red Chamber and a second sold-out gala only a day after its spectacular annual Opening Night Gala for the premiere of Andrea Chenier.

Dream of the Red Chamber is a classic Chinese novel by Cao Xueqin, as well known in China as Romeo and Juliet in the West. Written in the mid-18th century during the Qing Dynasty, it’s considered one of the four greatest Chinese novels, along with The Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin, and Journey to the West.

Twice as long as War and Peace, with more than 400 characters, the tale is challenging to adapt as a two-and-a-half-hour show. In China, it has inspired numerous films and theatre pieces, two television series, and countless operas.

The SF Opera performance of Dream of the Red Chamber featured vividly ornamented, dreamlike sets designed by Tim Yip, who won an Oscar art direction on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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San Francisco Social Diary: 94th Annual San Francisco Opera Gala

For its 94th season, San Francisco Opera’s annual gala featured a French theme to match its opening show Andrea Chénier, including lighting up City Hall like the French flag.


The San Francisco event you absolutely don’t want to miss is the annual Opera opening night gala in September, a thrilling kickoff for the philanthropic, social, and cultural season. I’ve seen many grand events in cities around the world — and none outclass this one.

In 2016, as always, opera aficionados packed the house, and the audience — bejeweled, begowned, and betuxed (if there isn’t such a word, there should be) — put on a show that for style and beauty was equal to the fabulous performance we saw onstage.

The season began with Italian composer Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier. Musical Director Nicola Luisotti and Director David McVicar led an international roster of performers in the story of a tragic love triangle based loosely on events of the French Revolution.

The beaux arts San Francisco City Hall was built in 1915, with fellow beaux arts masterpiece the Opera House built across the street only 17 years later.

The stunning work by set designer Robert Jones and costumer Jenny Tiramani gave the performance a sense of grandeur and luxury reflective of pre-revolution France.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Opera Opening Night Gala

San Francisco Opera opened its 93rd season with a gala performance of Verdi’s romantic drama Luisa Miller in the magnificent 1932 Beaux-Arts War Memorial Opera House.



San Francisco kicked off its fall social and philanthropic season with the annual Opera opening night gala in September. One of the city’s grandest events, it’s a must-attend for lovers of opera, theater, fashion, and glamour.

The Opera’s General Director David Gockley and Musical Director Nicola Luisotti pulled out all the stops for the season’s opener, Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller.

The cast of Luisa Miller: Vitaliy Bilyy, Ekaterina Semenchuk, David Gockley, Francesca Zambello, Michael Fabiano, Nicola Luisotti, and Leah Crocetto.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Opera Guild Fashion Night and a Hilton Birthday

During San Francisco’s spring social season, I enjoyed an Erdem fashion show held at the new San Francisco Cruise Terminal, and attended a glamorous dinner party with friends that showed off the city’s Old World charm.

My New York friends are always asking what goes on in San Francisco. Plenty! There are meet-ups with friends, lots of parties, and so much live entertainment it’s hard to make a choice. Here’s a report on some of the events I enjoyed on my last trip.


This spring, droves of San Francisco fashionistas gussied up to view the latest collection from celebrated British designer Erdem Moralioglu at his first-ever runway presentation here.

Saks Fifth Avenue sponsored the event, co-chaired by Claire Fluhr and Anne Marie Massocca under the leadership of new Guild President Charlot Malin. It benefited the San Francisco Opera Guild’s music education programs, which reach more than 50,000 students in nearly 200 schools throughout Northern California.

Fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu with Opera Guild President Charlot Malin.

Opera Guild co-chairs Anne Marie Massocca and Claire Fluhr, with Opera Director David Gockley.

Huifen Chan with Saks GM Robert Arnold-Kraft, who sponsored the evening.

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San Francisco Social Diary: SF Opera Guild Presents “A Paris Holiday”

At this year’s annual San Francisco Opera Guild holiday dinner, the War Memorial Opera House stage was turned into a glamorous, intimate dinner party.



Charity committees everywhere try to come up with fresh, unique event ideas. The San Francisco Opera Guild managed to score a bull’s-eye with its annual black-tie party in December, A Paris Holiday, which revived the tradition of dinner on the War Memorial Opera House stage.

The evening also honored arts supporter and philanthropist Diane “Dede” Wilsey, whom Honorary Chair and SF Opera Director David Gockley called “an advocate for the arts and a role model in our cherishedcommunity.” He called fundraising “an extreme sport” and dubbed her “an athlete of Olympian caliber,” adding, “She’s San Francisco’s secret weapon!”

The Opera Guild holiday dinner closed the fall opera season and concluded the Guild’s 75th anniversary year at the War Memorial Opera House.

Gregory and Charlot Malin, who was recently appointed President of the San Francisco Opera Guild.

Opera Board President Keith Geeslin, honoree Dede Wilsey, and Opera Director David Gockley.

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San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera Opens with Bellini’s Norma

The 2014 San Francisco Opera Gala kicked off the season with Bellini’s dramatic bel canto masterpiece, Norma.

SAN FRANCISCO – The fall philanthropic, social, and cultural season begins here right after Labor Day. It’s the busiest week in the city, with the opening night of the Symphony and the Opera.

The Opera’s highly anticipated opening night event is possibly one of the grandest in the world, a not-to-be-missed mix of music and drama, glamour and excitement.

Among this season’s San Francisco Opera performances, at the War Memorial Opera house, are Tosca, Cinderella, La Bohème, and Partenope.

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San Francisco Social Diary: San Francisco Opera Guild’s 75th Anniversary

At the San Francisco Opera Guild’s fundraiser, POPera!, famed drag queen Kotya Smirnoff Skyy and award-winning soprano Deborah Voigt performed for the glamorous, nostalgic evening.

This spring, the San Francisco Opera Guild presented POPera!, a dazzling evening of cabaret and surprises celebrating the Opera Guild’s 75th anniversary.

Held at the historic Fairmont Hotel, the event referenced the city’s glamorous past in many ways, from the invitation itself to the cocktail party in the Cirque Room, to the entertainment in the Venetian Room, where Tony Bennett debuted his iconic “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

The invitation featured this vintage photo, a General Motors advertisement from the 1950s discovered in the commemorative book, The Fairmont: The First Century of a San Francisco Landmark.

In keeping with the historical theme, some of the former chairs were present, including Associate Guild member Barbara Henry, Guild President Karen Kubin, former Fol de Rol Chair Donna Casey, 2014 Opera Ball Co-Chair Teresa Medearis, former Fol de Rol Chair Beverly Coughlin, Associate Guild member Anne Kasanin, Education Fund founder Jane Hartley; former Guild presidents Ann Girard, Diane Rubin, and Marilyn Timoney; and former Fol de Rol Chair Sarah Duryea.

Barbara Henry, Karen Kubin, Donna Casey, Teresa Medearis, Beverly Coughlin, Anne Kasanin, Jane Hartley, Ann Girard, Diane Rubin, Marilyn Timoney, Sarah Duryea.

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