Best DIY Opera Company - 2010
San Francisco Parlor Opera
Here's an idea for your next soirée: Instead of shuffling through your iPod, why not have San Francisco Parlor Opera treat your guests to a full-on production of Mozart's Così fan tutte? (Gounod's Faust and Massenet's Thaïs are available, too, if the evening calls for Satan or for courtesans reformed by tortured monks, respectively — prices upon request.) Since its founding in 2008 by Cole Grissom, Elizabeth O'Neill, and Patricia Urbano — all of whom frequently perform for the company — the Parlor Opera has proved an enchanting addition to the local arts scene, with its blend of home-crafted production values, unbeatable intimacy, unfailing good humor, and an uncompromising artistic mission. For $55 ($25 for students), inhabitants of more modest dwellings can partake of the fun at the company's regular performances, which are still staged in a house — venues change, but are uniformly posh. Though wine and song flow freely, help in the form of subtitles does not (unless you count the lively prescene narration), so either bone up on the appropriate language or (better) immerse yourself in the atmosphere created by well-appointed living rooms and gardens, talented vocalists, and props and lighting that quite possibly come from IKEA.