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War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco

4.4
#22 of 65 in Nightlife in San Francisco
Architectural Building Theater
The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, California is located on the western side of Van Ness Avenue across from the rear facade of City Hall. It is part of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. It has been the home of the San Francisco Opera since opening night in 1932.ArchitectureIn 1927, $4 million in municipal bonds were issued to finance the design and construction of the first municipally owned opera house in the United States. The architects of the building complex were Arthur Brown Jr., who had designed City Hall between 1912 and 1916, and G. Albert Lansburgh, a theater designer responsible for San Francisco's Orpheum and the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.Completed in 1932,it is one of the last Beaux-Arts structures erected in the United States and employs the classic Roman Doric order in a reserved and sober form appropriate to its function commemorating all those who served in World War I. A colonnade of paired columns screens colossal arch-headed windows above a severe rusticated basement, a scheme that owes something to Claude Perrault's severe East front of the Louvre.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
76 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • I hate opera but I love this building. It is so dope looking and it is a reminder of how the city used to be.  more »
  • The box seats are individual padded chairs with a lot more padding than the seats in the orchestra section (where I even once took an inflatable cushion). However, there are three rows, on tiers which...  more »
  • Ive been to the Opera house several times, but this time was special because it was my 16 yr old daughters first time seeing a ballet. We saw Swan Lake. I feel that any section of the opera house is w...  more »
Google
  • I've seen two operas here and I absolutely love it. It's gorgeous on the outside, but even more gorgeous on the inside. Both shows I saw, I was seated in the balcony and the acoustics were great. The on-screen translations are also a very welcome addition. I also love the way SF Opera treats their dress code: I usually show up in dark jeans and a collared shirt and have not been harassed once. Sure, many people dress very nicely, but those of us who don't are not harassed in any way. My biggest gripe with this Opera house is how expensive it is. Although they tout their free standing section (no one wants to stand through the entirety of a 2 hour opera...), the cheapest seating is still pretty pricey. However, I think it's well worth it.
  • My husband, daughter, and myself attended the Nutcracker performance (SF Ballet) in December and this location made a spectacular experience all the more memorable! We went on a Sunday afternoon and had no issues finding parking in a garage by the Civic Center which we paid $10 for. The garage was a little tight for my husband's 2016 Dodge Ram and if you need a lot of clearance for a bigger sized vehicle I would maybe recommend another parking lot. The exterior architecture of the old building is beautiful and when you enter you will find beautiful marble floors, friendly staff, and several levels accessing the sections for seating. The main floor and basement offer a cafe/restaurant and souvenirs as well as classic Christmas decorations. When we found our seats in the balcony, the lighting was dim with velvet red curtains and gold interior. The seats were fairly comfortable and were plush although they do not recline at all. If you have a fear of heights, I would recommend sitting closer to ground level as the incline to accommodate all of the upper level and balcony seating is intense. The sound from the orchestra is very well balanced and soothing and the stage takes a crescent shape making it appear bigger and more visually appealing. The performance had me in tears as I watched the amazing talent during the two hour show (minus the 20 minute intermission)! The dancers, the costumes, the music and composition, and overall experience is one of the best I've ever had in my life and worth every dollar! I hope to come back again in the near future to see Swan Lake!
  • An absolutely beautiful venue, even if the seats are desperately in need of an upgrade. The stage is very large and the acoustics are fantastic. Considering that they are one of the few California ballets and operas with a full orchestra, sound is key.
  • Beautiful classic Beaux Arts style building, corner stone says built in 1931. The interior is an even better example of the style that is mostly preserved, restored or respected. The Café at the Opera is pretty good, service is great! Wish I could afford to go to the Opera House again!
  • All around great experience. The staff is kind and helpful. Went to see the opera and one of the best experience I've had in SF.

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