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Music & Theatre in San Francisco

Though the San Francisco arts scene has a reputation for provincialism, this is the only city on the west coast to boast its own professional symphony, ballet and opera companies. These companies rely entirely on private contributions for their survival and low-priced tickets are rare, if not nonexistent.

Music & Theatre in San Francisco
Open Air Opera and Ballet Perfomances.

Look out in summer for the free concerts in Stern Grove (at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard), where the symphony, opera and ballet give open-air performances for ten successive Sundays (starting in June). Last-minute standing room tickets provide a cheaper option for those on a budget.

Classical Music and Opera.

The San Francisco Opera Association (ticket and schedule information tel 415/864-3330) has been performing in the opulent War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave at Grove, since the building opened in 1932, pulling in big names like Placido Domingo and Kiri Te Kanawa on a regular basis.
Its main season runs from the end of September for thirteen weeks, and its opening night is one of the principal social events on the west coast. Also housed here is the San Francisco Ballet (tel 415/865-2000), whose regular season starts in February, while performances of The Nutcracker occur during the Christmas season.

The Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall , 201 Van Ness Ave (tel 415/864-6000), is the permanent home of the San Francisco Symphony, hosting a year-round season of classical music and sometimes performances by other, often offbeat musical and touring groups.

THEATRES IN San Francisco.

The majority of the theaters in downtown's Theater District are not especially innovative, but tickets are reasonably inexpensive and there's usually good availability. The TIX Bay Area ticket booth in Union Square regularly has day-of-performance tickets for half price and full-price advance sales. It's also an outlet for Ticketmaster and sells Muni tickets.

American Conservatory Theater.

Geary Theater, 415 Geary St tel 415/749-2228.
The Tony award-winning ACT puts on eight major plays each season in the city's best serious theater venue.

Beach Blanket Babylon.

Club Fugazi, 678 Green St tel 415/421-4222.
This legendary musical spoof, filled with celebrity impersonations and towering hats, has been running since 1974. Highly recommended, but remember to book in advance.

Golden Gate Theater.

1 Taylor St tel 415/551-2000.
San Francisco's most elegant theater (in its least elegant neighborhood), with marble flooring, rococo ceilings and gilt trimmings

Lorraine Hansberry Theater.

620 Sutter St tel 415/474-8800.
The mainstay of African-American theater in San Francisco. Traditional theater as well as contemporary political pieces and jazz/blues musical revues.

Theatre Rhinoceros.

2926 16th St tel 415/861-5079.
San Francisco's leading gay theater group. Lighter, humorous productions, as well as those that confront gay issues.

Theatre on the Square.

450 Post St tel 415/433-9500.
Converted Gothic theater with drama, musicals, comedy and mainstream theater pieces. San Francisco's main fringe venue.

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