The curtains in the San Francisco Opera House lift during rehearsal, revealing a vibrant scene of central in the opera “Turandot,” which junior Chiara Figari is now a part of after being scouted by artistic director Susan Mcmane of the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
“I am one of the Persian monks in the story,” Figari said. “Our costumes are very ostentatious — we have wool black skirts, wear all orange make up, black eyeliner, and even orange bald caps.”
Turnadot, composed by Giacomo Puccini, is the story of a Central Asia, Turan princess who fears expressing her love, and has with a cast of Swedish and Italian performers.
“The San Francisco Girls Chorus is a feeder for the San Francisco Opera,” Figari said. “A number of the girls I know participate in the opera as well as the chorus.” Figari said she learned how to balance her time for academics and rehearsals while performing with the five time, Grammy award-winning ensemble.
“Getting my homework in on time is definitely difficult,” Figari said. “There is absolutely no downtime. The performances start at six, makeup has to get done, singers need to warm up and then we have to get into costume.”
Figari is in both the first and second acts of “Turandot,” with the show ending at 10 p.m., which means getting homework done before getting to the Opera House.
“I always feel exhilarated during a performance when the theater is packed,” Figari said, grinning. “Especially when all of our set is done and everything comes together for the first time — it’s an amazing feeling.”
Figari said the directors also remind the singers to pretend like it is opening night for every show so every performance will have the same level of energy.
“There is some pressure knowing that people are paying good money to see the performance,” Figari said of opera tickets that run $85 to $330. “Yet, it also makes you feel appreciated because entertainers enjoy nothing more than seeing an eager audience.”
Turandot’s plays at the San Francisco Opera House on Van Ness Avenue, Nov. 18, 22 and 25 at 8 p.m. A limited number of standing room tickets start at $10. See http://sfopera.com for more information.