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The War Memorial Opera House is home to both the San Francisco Opera and Ballet. Opera season runs approximately 6 weeks in June and July and then again in September through November. The Ballet does performances of Nutracker in December and picks up their season in the beginning of the year through May.
During Opera season backstage tours are available. They are generally given on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Check the Opera's website (http://sfopera.com/) for information and reservations (they are needed!!) The tour is a must for opera lovers but even non-Opera fans will enjoy. Learn the history of the San Francisco Opera, how a Cal-Stanford football game gave it its birth, and find out about the history of the Opera House itself. Then enjoy the backstage area. See the prompter's box (can they really sit there for the entire performance?), dressing rooms, wig and makeup rooms (it takes HOW long to make a wig?) and the laundry room (HOW many pounds of laundry a day?). Tour lasts about 90 minutes.
If you can't make a backstage tour, tours are given every Monday (except holidays) which covers all three theatres that make up the Performaing Arts Center (Davies Symphony Hall, War Memorial Opera House and Herbst Theatre in the Veterans Building). These are front of the house tours of the three theatres. History of the buildings and the Company's that use them are covered in this 90 minute tour. A 10% discount at the Symphony store is available for those on the tour. Tours start from Davies Hall on the hour from 10AM - 2PM (Grove St. box office entrance). No reservations are necessary. $5 Adult, $3 senior/student.
If you are in San Francisco during the summer and don't want to spend too much time, brief "Glimpse" tours of the Opera House are available for just $1! Just show up at the Opera House, Tuesday through Thursday between 11:00AM and 2:00PM. Tours take 10-20 minutes.