San Francisco Opera (SFO) has long been a regular participant in the Stern Grove Festival, our city’s largest-scale effort to present the performing arts to the general public free of charge. This summer SFO has prepared a special program to celebrate the “anniversary significance” of 2013. This past May saw the celebration of the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner, and two more major birthdays remain to be recognized. Giuseppe Verdi was born on October 10, 1813; and, a little over a month later, on November 22, Benjamin Britten was born exactly 100 years later. All three of these occasions will be honored through the singing of the husband-and-wife team of soprano Ailyn Pérez and tenor Stephen Costello. They will be joined by the current Adler Fellows, and the conductor for this occasion will be George Manahan.
The concert will take place on the outdoor stage of Sigmund Stern Grove on Sunday, August 18, beginning at 2 p.m. The entrance to the Grove is at the northwest corner of 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. Admission is free, and no tickets are required.
This has always been a very popular event, so it is important to remember that there is no general public parking at the Grove and that street parking is extremely limited. As a result, everyone is encouraged to take public transportation. Fortunately, the Festival has prepared a Getting to the Grove Web page, which provides a generous supply of useful information for those planning to attend, including a link to the 511 Web page for planning trips by public transportation in the Bay Area, which provides up-to-the-minute transportation information from the service providers. Free shuttle service within the Grove is provided to seniors and disabled patrons and a drop-off area is located at the entrance. A very limited number of handicapped parking spaces are also available at the entrance. Any questions that cannot be answered through the Web site can be obtained by calling 415-252-6252.
Concertgoers are encouraged to arrive early for the best lawn seating in the concert meadow and may bring picnics, low beach chairs, and ground covers. Tall chairs, beach umbrellas, and pets are prohibited in Stern Grove during concerts. Blankets and ground covers are restricted in size to 8 X 10 feet due to space limitations. Unoccupied blankets are subject to removal. Designated benches are reserved for seniors over the age of 65 and disabled persons with one guest until 30 minutes prior to concert time. To ensure the safety and comfort of patrons at each performance, the concert meadow will be closed to further entry if capacity is reached. Patrons are not guaranteed seating in the meadow.
The Grove itself is a 33-acre recreation area with meadows, picnic facilities, hiking trails, and a lake. Food and drinks are available from the Grove Café. There is also a Festival Shop with general Festival merchandise and CDs of the performing artists. This being San Francisco, the audience is advised to come prepared for both sun and fog.