San Francisco Chronicle
Kid-friendly matinees of traveling ‘Bohème’ rained out
S.F. Opera hopes for sunny days for last two weekends
The San Francisco Opera has had its portable adaptation of “La Bohème” all geared up and ready to go for weeks now. The company is just waiting for the weather to cooperate fully.
“Bohème Out of the Box,” a free 75-minute abridged presentation of Puccini’s tragicomic masterpiece, finally had its delayed opening on Friday, March 17, at Orange Memorial Park in South San Francisco, and the show was repeated the following evening.
But that came after the Bay Area’s rains had washed away all three performances scheduled for the previous weekend at Alameda’s Waterfront Park. And the bad weather returned on Sunday, March 19, prompting the cancellation of the final South San Francisco show as well.
Company officials waited as long as they could before calling off that performance, hoping that the gusty downpours that had been blowing on and off all morning would disappear. But by 12:30 p.m., just 90 minutes before show time, it was clear that wouldn’t be possible.
“We wished we’d been able to do the show,” said Jennifer Good, the Opera’s managing director for production. “But we didn’t want to bring people out here and then have them be disappointed.”
Rain, whether heavy or light, has interfered with local commuter traffic, caused damage to roadways and dampened the pleasures of hikers and recreational walkers over the past months. Indoor activities such as opera have been largely immune, but opera al fresco is another matter.
“Bohème Out of the Box,” part of the San Francisco Opera’s centennial season, was conceived as a way to bring opera into various Bay Area communities in an accessible and family-friendly way. The “box” is a unit set that includes areas for action on top and inside of what resembles a large shipping crate. The opera is done in a mixture of spoken English and sung Italian.
Good said the two evening performances in South San Francisco drew audiences of 250 and 400, respectively, and that more than 600 potential attendees had preregistered for Sunday’s canceled performance.
The Sunday matinee performances, preceded by a workshop for families with small children, are specially intended for the young. But those have yet to take place.
“We’re still crossing our fingers that we’ll get a sunny Sunday one of these days,” said Good.
Remaining performances of “Bohème Out of the Box” are scheduled for the Los Gatos Library (March 24-26) and Emerald Glen Park Amphitheater in Dublin (March 31-April 2).