SFOpera - At the Stage Door with Sheri

At the Stage Door with Sheri

Get an inside look at the people that make SF Opera happen—no badge required.


Meet Sheri Greenawald our Opera Center Director.

AC: How long have you worked here?
SG: I’ve worked at the San Francisco opera since May of 2002. So that’s quite some time now.

AC: What brought you to SFO?
SG: Well, I was teaching at the Boston Conservatory at the time that San Francisco Opera hired me. I was winding down my career. I was in my 50’s…I’ll confess to that and you know when you’re a lyric soprano in your 50’s the career begins to (go downhill noise) because unless you have a big enough voice to go on and sing the really really big roles you’re probably near the end of your tether. So when Pamela Rosenberg called me up and said would you like to interview for the job I got excited and it was a good fit for me. I’m very motherly. Yesterday my Adler’s did my numbers. The Adler’s were all of a sudden into numerology and they said that I was a six which means that I have the maternal instinct. So I think I’m a good nurturer for the young artists so that’s how I got here.

AC: What is your favorite Opera Memory?
SG: Well I have to say one of my favorite memories was from the San Francisco Opera. We had our Sitzprobe, my first job at San Francisco Opera, I was singing Marzelline in Fidelio with Dame Gwyneth Jones as Leonore. We had our Sitzprobe the morning after Halloween and Dame Gwyneth had gone with her friends into the Castro on Halloween back in the day when it was still, “Halloween in the Castro.” She had been out late and probably had a few things to drink but I’m telling you I was sitting right next to her and when it came time for that "Abscheulicher," I mean she knocked that sucker against the back wall. I mean it was the best I heard her sing, I swear to god, the whole time I was here and it was amazing. And I thought well that’s what inhibitions will do for you. I learned a big lesson. She was fantastic and as I always say, it’s one of the biggest voices I ever stood next to on stage...and I’ve stood next to a few of them. That was something else. I was so impressed and she was so kind to me also I must say. Dame Gwyneth, thank you very much.

AC: What would you tell someone who has never been to the opera before?
SG: Oh wow. Expect the unexpected I guess; because it’s a big party…it’s always a big party up there. You’re going to get overwhelmed by some of the voices coming at you and overwhelming your senses. The orchestra can overwhelm you as well. And when our chorus is really laying into some music it should really viscerally attack your body as well. Be ready for the unexpected and some actual visceral sensations. It’s not the same as getting it through a boom box, it’s different. It will be a different kind of experience. But it should be equally intense that’s what I think.

At the Stage Door with Amy