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Friday Slide Show: Opera in the Park Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

13 September 2019

Once upon a time, we would pack a lunch and a bottle of wine before hiking over to first the Music Concourse then Sharon Meadow to join the crowd for Opera in the Park. But for the last few years, our annual picnic of overtures and arias has been less planned.

We have been trying to convince ourselves to enjoy the annual event without working so hard at it. We don't bring anything along and we don't expect to stay very long either.

There are the dahlias to see, after all. And you can hear the show as you walk north to see them.

But it's a shame, really.

It's such a fun event. And coming early with food and staying to the end to finish toasting the performers as they sing Verdi's Libiamo! drinking song is all part of it.

We always sat on the hill at Sharon Meadow. But that had become annoying in many different ways. There were the umbrellas. There were the way-too-many dogs discomforted by the tightly packed crowd. There were the sun umbrellas and SUV-like strollers blocking the view. And, worst of all, the people who had come to show off their story-telling prowess. Concert-goers around us actually had to shush them repeatedly during the performances last year.

And then by some miracle we found a seating section with white folding chairs set aside explicitly for us.

But this year was a transitional one, it seems.

We sat on the hill briefly before intermission. There was plenty of room. The dogs were relaxed. No strollers rolled to a parking place in front of us. The sun was a bit much, though. Which may explain why the hill wasn't packed with people.

So we walked over to the Dahlia Garden and enjoyed the full blooms for a while. Then we returned to what is now Robin Williams Meadow during intermission and walked around.

And then by some miracle we found a seating section with white folding chairs set aside explicitly for us. OK, well, any senior. So yeah, we took a seat for the second half of the show.

It was a lively group of seniors, full into the Queen rendition of Somebody to Love and the heart-breaking Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. But they had their hands waving in the air for Volare. And were well prepared for Libiamo.

The performers, who are all appearing with the San Francisco Opera this season (which just opened), sing for free. And the orchestra members, who almost all wear funny hats for the occasion, get nothing more than one of the plants lining the stage. They walk out with the rest of us, carrying their instrument cases and juggling the potted plant, unsure which to save from a drop.

They, too, all seemed to be having a really great time.

We could tell because we brought along the Olympus E-PL1 and the M.Zuiko 12-200mm zoom. That let us get a little closer during the show than we usually get. Like watching with binoculars.

The images, oddly, were generally underexposed with very high contrast. It was a bright, sunny day, certainly, but the only filter we used was a harmless Hoya UV(0). Fortunately we were shooting Raw and relying on Lightroom to adjust the exposure and contrast.

Not our usual edits this time but we were able to get where we wanted to go with these images.

That only happens in operas that are comedies.

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