While my friends were ending the world on stage at the War Memorial this afternoon, I was reenacting a different ancient ritual – not quite as venerable as that work based on the Nibelungenlied, but more beloved in my small universe. After starting the day with some lovely folks, I walked to Sausalito. 25 years ago, I used to do this with my friend Patrick on our days off from the opera house grind. Today, I did it under skies filled with a strange yellow fog, stained by the wildfires burning north of here. The winds were strong and the air was salty.
I walked past the scruffy brunchers on Haight Street, past St. Ignatius and the University of San Francisco, past the lines for dim sum on Geary, past the imposing mansions of Pacific Heights. I walked through the strange mishmash of the Presidio, the manicured paths, the abandoned buildings next to the schmancy inns and restaurants, the national cemetery. I walked onto the freezing bridge with the throngs of local joggers and the phalanxes of tourists from everywhere, scarves and saris blowing in the wind, underdressed families and heavily jacketed retirees holding their coffee close and taking pictures of the Bay as the wakes of a hundred boats slowly disappeared into it.
As we get ready for the Schwabacher concert this week, my mind is on my own Merola days and on my six years at the company, and especially on the people who taught me about this city, about exploring food and music along with the weird, wonderful, arcane culture of opera. I’m so grateful for the chance to work with this year’s extraordinary group of artists, and even more grateful for the chance to reconnect with this city and so many friends who live and visit here.
Now I’m home to start my last week in my sublet. As I write this, I’m watching the livestream of a masterclass run by a dear friend at the CoOperative Program in Princeton. I’m missing that program because of Merola, so it’s wonderful to feel connected to this very special group of folks (and to all the other people who are watching!). All month, I’ve been watching friends rehearse and open shows at festivals across the country.
What a vibrant, engaged, uplifting community of artists! You all inspire me, and I’m lucky to be a part of this world! Thank you!
In just a week, this great California time will be over. After that, I’m going offline for a bit, and I hope you get a chance to do the same!