Many come to appreciate opera through sheer force of will, gritting their teeth through three-hour shows in languages they don’t understand with plots they can’t follow — waiting desperately, as it were, for the fat lady to sing. There is a better way. Just as you shouldn’t go to the races without an inside line on the ponies (ever tried making sense of a racing form?), you shouldn’t attend opera as an innocent. The easiest, quickest way to get worldly is at the four-session Overture: Opera Workshop for Adults, in which you learn about writing, directing, and staging operas from the very people who write, direct, and stage operas. The course load is full of wonders, some a bit overwhelming: After mezzo soprano Renée Rapier talks about her job and sings beautifully for the class on April 30, for example, you’ll do vocal exercises — in front of mezzo soprano Renée Rapier. On May 7, director Jose Maria Condemi talks about directing, then leads the class in theatrical exercises. How about this one: At the first workshop, you’ll write a short libretti. What’s a libretti? Who the hell knows — the workshop is for newbies as well as opera snobs, so don’t worry about a thing. Even the prop guys get involved, as the final class meets at the SF Opera Scene Shop — a huge warehouse in the Dogpatch — to give you a close-up look at what goes into building and lighting those sense-scattering sets.
Mondays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 23. Continues through May 14, 2012