From Ghirardelli Square, I walked down to the waterfront, and took in the view of the C.A. Thayer, a three-masted schooner that is a part of the Maritime Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf. I spent the night on the C.A. Thayer with my class when I was in third grade. We all pretended that we were whalers on the way to Washington, and we learned sea shanties and how to tie knots. She sat there in the harbor, calm and proud, as I viewed her from the hill. I hope elementary classes still spend the night on board; it was a wonderful experience that made me appreciate ships greatly.
I had some appointments downtown, so I drove towards the Civic Center and parked in another lot (street parking in San Francisco is about as scarce as it is in Philadelphia). I walked to Davies Symphony Hall and the War Memorial Opera House, where I spent so much of my time singing in the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Circumnavigating these structures, I realized that in my childhood memories, everything was so much taller! Not that any of these buildings are small, mind you…but they certainly looked much less intimidating as an adult.
I remember everything about that opera house. While I was in the SF Girls Chorus, I got to be in the children’s chorus for Carmen, La Boheme, I Pagliacci, Cavalleria Rusticana, Werther (where I made my SF Opera debut and performed with Alfredo Kraus and Renata Scotto) before I grew taller than the five-foot maximum height. I also remember exiting the stage door by the courtyard and seeing my mom’s car waiting for me, all prepped with pillows and blankets so I could sleep on the way home.
After my trip down memory lane, I met with a friend from Philadelphia who had just moved to the Bay Area, and then I went to sing at a performance class at the San Francisco Conservatory. The class was run by Marcie Stapp, a renowned vocal coach (and the wife of a colleague of mine), and it was an opportunity for students and professionals alike to work on their audition skills.
If you are in the San Francisco area and are interested in working on your operatic rep, you should come to this class. It’s very informal, informative, and the group is supportive. Because it was summertime, the class was pretty empty (only 6 people), but it apparently gets very full once the regular season begins.
Now that I’m back home, I feel like it’s apropos that I am ending my SF tour with a story about singing…after all, I left San Francisco to sing in college, and this time I left to come back to Philadelphia and my singing career here. But I’ll always love San Francisco, and I will miss the smell of eucalyptus and salt air. As I swelter in this humidity back on the East Coast, I will miss the cool, cool fog most of all.