Click on thumbnail for larger image.
With the San Francisco Opera, Ruslan and Ludmilla, 1995. A very goofy opera, but I loved it because it was my first.
With the Royal Ballet, Swan Lake, 1995. One of the most gorgeously detailed costumes I ever had the privilege of wearing. A beautiful production, and my introduction to being a supernumerary ("super"), or extra.
There's too much to say about the experience of being in "Harvey Milk" (1996), a new opera about S.F.'s supervisor, the first openly gay elected official in the US, I believe, and the Mayor of Castro Street. He and Mayor Moscone were killed by Dan White, another supervisor, in the late '70's. I had several roles, including a riot cop beating up the Stonewall Girls. The opera, sad to say, was not great, but the production grew on me. I had begged to be in it because of how the story moved me and how the Castro renaissance had empowered me as a bisexual woman.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Two words: Siberian Elvis. He is my guilty-secret poster boy. I was close to speechless (yes, me) when I met him except to say the one Russian phrase I practiced, which was supposed to mean "I am extremely pleased to meet you." For all I know, I promised him a penguin, but he was charming. Photo from Don Giovanni, 1998.
I also appeared with the SF Ballet from time to time. Here I am with an adorable baby ballerina in a Very Victorian Nutcracker. It was a very different experience to work for the ballet, more chaotic, little cameraderie, more of a sense of winging it.
San Francisco Opera, Rigoletto, 1997. This was the group that caused a ruckus in the letters section of the SF Chronicle for the run of the show. A woman of delicate sensibilities, and her daughter, were the first to be offended by the specter of topless women cavorting lasciviously with men, all in elaborate Elizabethan constume. The toplessness was all stage magic -- savage corsetry pushed our bosoms up to our chins (I said it would "put cleavage on a poodle") and either prosthetic or painted nipples were applied far north of the real thing, giving us a skewed, disturbing quality. The letters appeared daily, even after the Opera explained the artifice. This in San Francisco, of all places!
The Super Captain for the Opera was asked to supply the supers for Swan Lake in '95 when the Royal Ballet came through on tour. This was my trial run as a super -- and a fun couple of roles: lady in waiting to the queen in Act 1, sc. 1(green Victorian gown above) and this wild creation as a guest at the ball in Act (3?). Yes, that is a beak coming out of my forehead, and the skirt has a wing motif. The ball was a fantasmagoria of bird images and copper piping,. The performances were stunning, I met Princess Margaret, the sponsor of the troupe who put the "Royal" in Royal Ballet (she smoked incessantly and kept repeating, "Lovely, just lovely").
This was one of those classic supernumerary assignments: Onstage for the first sixty seconds and the last ninety, with only one appearance in between (weary peasant, slowly dragging bag of plastic potatoes from one side of set to the other, elapsed time under twenty seconds). We got very good at Oppressed Peasant. It did get silly. Here, a gang of peasants steal William Tell's prop apple and re-enact Snow White and at least Four Dwarves. Doc, Sneezy and Grumpy were off quaffing somewhere. It's what dwarves do.
Me (at left) with some of the other riot cops from the Stonewall Girls scene. Don't I look butch in uniform?
Another one from Harvey Milk. Clockwise from top left: Mary (Mrs. Dan White, wife of Harvey's killer), me (Castro Street Lesbian and Pallbearer), a talented young singer whose name I forget (Medora, a schoolgirl who worked on Harvey's supervisor campaign), and Kimberley, a manicurist in real life typecast as a hairdresser (Gigi).