On the Lam in San Francisco
San Francisco Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
Following my banishment from the Hawaii golfing establishment, I had no choice but to flee stateside. The authorities in San Francisco have not yet learned of my fugitive status, so it seems like a safe place for the moment.
Seriously, I've always loved this town, and I've decided to hang my hat here for awhile. It's a very cosmopolitan city, with more than enough cultural and intellectual stimulation to keep me engaged, but without the mad, frenetic rush of places like New York (where I lived for a number of years). There's plenty to see and do, and most of the most popular attractions are known to people that haven't even been here: Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and so forth. But San Francisco is also home to some unexpected attractions, which is the category I most enjoy seeking out.
For example, who knew that San Francisco is an opera town? When it comes to world-class opera, I normally think of New York, Paris and Milan (been there, done that -- all three), but I recently had the good fortune to sample some of the San Francisco Opera, and I was bowled over by what I saw.
You know those sinister, pernicious telemarketers that call just as you're sitting down to dinner? Well they aren't all evil, as my housemate and I recently discovered. One called -- just as the main dish was coming out of the oven, of course -- with a three-concert mini-subscription to the San Francisco Opera. Yeah, yeah, yeah -- whatever, she thought. Until he mentioned the price: Prime orchestra seats to three performances for just $150. A quick check online revealed that those seats normally sell for $175 apiece, so we were all over it!
And what a deal it was! First, we saw "La Rondine," one of Puccini's lesser-known operas; and most recently, we saw Verdi's "Macbeth." The local SF critics raved about La Rondine and the debut of Angela Gheorghiu. I thoroughly enjoyed it; but here's the irony: Virtually every published source panned Macbeth, but I was just wild about it. It's probably the New Yorker in me that responded, because what I liked was what everyone else hated: I loved the chances they took with the garish costumes, and the seemingly asynchronous starkness of the sets. Lady Macbeth, sung by Hungarian soprano Georgina Lukacs, was postively stunning in her avaricious, sexy lust for power. At one point, she actually fondles Macbeth with her foot, goading him to commit the crimes that send him into madness. Now there's a woman who knows how to get what she wants! When you're a jaded opera-goer like me (been at it for twenty years), it's nice to get a break from the usual, ho-hum presentation. I'll take a little sizzle over the quotidian every time, and the SF Opera delivers. They're not afraid to take chances, and it pays off as far as I'm concerned. Check 'em out if you're in town.