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Aug. 22 Arts and Entertainment Source: Soaring music, engaging plots, an exploration of humanity

The dirty little secret about traditional opera is its primary subject matter:

Sex. Who’s getting it. Or not. And why and why not.

But it can also be about the hero’s or heroine’s journey, the fall of a leader because of pride, the conflict between good and evil, the individual against the state, or a simple comedy of errors. In other words, just about anything that casts an eye on the human condition.

Most of us, when we think of opera, perhaps seen first on a PBS station when not much else is on TV, think of the young lovers and Parisian students in “La Boheme,” the saucy cigarette girl that gives title to “Carmen,” or the ill-fated French courtesan of “La Traviata,” basically, stories about girls in trouble. And many of us have heard arias from award-winning movies — “My Left Foot,” “Fantasia,” “A Room with a View,” “Moonstruck,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “Apocalypse Now,” among them — and in TV and radio commercials to sell cars and household goods. The sounds of opera are all around us.

Humperdinck’s opera “Hansel and Gretel,” based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, premieries Nov. 15 and continues to Dec. 7. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO–SAN FRANCISCO OPERA)

Even in the era of Metropolitan Opera simulcasts, technology on the big screen that puts a premium on singers’ abilities to act, opera is still all about the singing, which the San Francisco Opera will have plenty of when the 2019-20 season opens Sept. 6 with Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet,” then continues with Britten’s “Billy Budd,” Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut,” and Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel,” ending the fall season.

The company’s 2020 summer season, which begins June 7, features Verdi’s rarely performed “Ernani,” followed

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