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    Behind the Scenes of Rusalka at SF Opera

    Jaime Barton

    Rusalka, soon to be presented by San Francisco Opera, is a fairytale fantasy based on the same story that inspired The Little Mermaid. It looks beyond the storybook world of happily-ever-after to expose truths that are powerfully and painfully human.

    We highlight it, in part, because it features one of our favorite opera singers, Jamie Barton. A member of the LGBTQ community, she proudly defies the convention of gay divas, and male opera stars too, staying in the proverbial closet. As she recently told Opera Magazine: “It’s not a secret that I’m bisexual—why can’t I sing a song as a woman to a woman? We’re living in a world where queer love stories exist. Why can’t they exist in classical music?”

    She continued, “It’s no longer that very specific cis/hetero/white male kind of world. I’m a champion of everybody having an equal chance, no matter where you come from, no matter whether you’re religious or not, no matter what sexuality you identify with.”

    Barton deftly plays the character Ježibaba, a witch in Rusalka. Her attire, and that of the other characters, matches the story’s dream-like qualities and requires talented costumers. San Francisco Bay Times photographer JP Lor recently visited SF Opera’s costume department to go behind the scenes. Special thanks to Jeffery McMillan and to Galen Till for making this possible and for warmly welcoming JP into their secret-feeling sanctum.

    Rusalka, like so many other late spring and early summer events, will come and go before you know it. Be sure not to miss this spectacular production with performances on June 16, 19, 22, 25 and 28. Pride Night at the Opera is on June 19 at 7:30 pm. For more information: