May La Forza Be With You

This was a fun and unusual evening! My wife JoAnn and I are singing in the offstage pilgrims’ chorus in West Bay Opera’s production of Verdi’s La forza del destino. This is a brief piece just a few minutes long near the start of Act II: 18 measures of sung music for men, a few measures less for the women.

Tonight was also the 6th game of the National League Championship Series in baseball, pitting the San Francisco Giants against the Philadelphia Phillies. As we’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, many people in the cast, chorus, and audience are Giants fans as well as opera people. 

One of the perks about being in the offstage chorus is that we’re in street clothes, not costumes, so it was OK for us to hang out in the courtyard listening to the game on the radio as the eighth and ninth innings unfolded during Act I – just a few steps from the lobby where we would be singing. This was a special treat since the Giants’ radio announcers are outstanding. We were joined by a couple of audience latecomers who had to wait until Act II to get into the theater, plus some crew members en route between jobs.

The Giants’ closer, Brian Wilson, entered the game with a 3-2 lead just as the orchestra started playing the “fate” chords in the overture. For a while it looked like the Giants might win before the end of Act I. But the Giants and Wilson never do anything in the most straightforward way, so of course there were a couple of walks to extend the bottom of the ninth into Act II. Our friends in the regular chorus had to go onstage with the outcome of the game in doubt.

Fortunately the offstage chorus starts singing about 5 minutes into the act. The Giants won the game and the National League pennant with about 3 minutes to spare before the start of our offstage chorus scene.

It could get crazier. If the World Series goes to game 6 or 7 in San Francisco, those games are the same evenings as our first two San Francisco Symphony performances of Carmina burana! Fortunately this is on the second half of the program, so the games should be over before intermission, unless they are particularly long or go into extra innings. But win or lose, I expect the vibe in the audience would be way different than the usual concert at Davies Symphony Hall.

Let’s go Giants, and may La Forza continue to be with you!

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