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Lighting Director
SUBMITTED DATE: 12/12/2017

About San Francisco Opera

Established in 1923, San Francisco Opera is one of the world’s leading producers of opera, presenting a roster of traditional and contemporary lyric theater repertory at the historic War Memorial Opera House. Hailed as an industry leader, San Francisco Opera has been acclaimed for its presentation of the world’s finest opera singers, conductors, directors and designers in innovative and bold productions. The Company is distinguished for producing numerous World and American premieres and for its internationally celebrated young artist training program, the Opera Center.

PURPOSE: Responsible for the general management, coordination, documentation and execution of lighting and projection designs and special effects for San Francisco Opera productions, including designer communication and design logistics coordination, as well as the related stage and rehearsal work associated with the construction, mounting and running of San Francisco Opera productions by the electrics, lighting and projections crews and staff members.


  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with advanced degree preferred, or equivalent combination of work experience and college coursework.
  • Minimum of five (5) years in a similar position in a large-scale, multi-repertory grand opera company or companies with advanced lighting, technical and projection supervisory experience of staff and crew, with a strong background in budgeting.

  • Outstanding interpersonal skills including the ability to interact with all staff and external producing partners in a professional, confidential and tactful manner.
  • Team-oriented and proven success with hiring, retention and supervision of staff members of a wide variety of skill levels.
  • Skilled in budgeting, expense tracking, team development and personnel management.
  • In-depth knowledge of modern stage lighting, technical stage production, intelligent lighting/moving lights, light board programming and projection technology, equipment and software.
  • Proven proficiency in repertory lighting design, creation of light plots and other related paperwork, and quick, accurate instrument focus.
  • Highly skilled in computer-aided drafting, Vectorworks, AutoCAD, MS Office applications.
  • Strong knowledge of various artistic genres, including Opera repertoire.
  • Ability to work independently, prioritize tasks, meet deadlines and exercise excellent judgment and initiative.
  • Ability to manage multiple, competing priorities successfully.
  • Ability to thrive in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment.
  • Great organization and communication skills, coupled with the ability to complete varied tasks quickly and accurately.
  • Proficiency in the use of and the industry standard communications over an intercom system (headset/microphone).
  • Able to sit at a computer and/or production desk for up to and over eight hours per day; see clearly in low-light situations as is common back stage and in the theatre; and walk on complex stage settings to accomplish the construction, rehearsal, and safe operation of productions.
  • Must maintain the highest level of confidentiality.
  • Ability to work weekends and evenings as necessary, especially during the opera season.
  • Must perform the functions of the position in a safe manner.


  • Manages all lighting and projection activities and expenditures in conjunction with the stage Master Electrician, coordinating this information with the Managing Director: Production, Production Finance Director and Technical staff.
  • In conjunction with Technical & Safety Director and Associate Technical Director, supports the coordination and effective use of stage time and associated work calls. 

  • In coordination with the Managing Director: Production, the Technical staff and Production Finance Director, sets daily crew calls and monitors labor costs.

  • Maintains positive internal communication with all other areas of the Production Department, including technical direction, production finance and stage management, as well as with all company departments and external partners.

  • Works closely with the Managing Director: Production and other senior production staff members to fulfill the approved design requirements of guest designers and directors, and fulfills these requirements within the approved per-production budget.

  • Supervises all assistant lighting designers and interns, assigning production work/responsibilities, monitoring schedules, and participating in person with management and training.

  • Reviews and coordinates production information with designers, to ensure that the lighting department is informed regarding each production’s logistical, technical and schedule needs and challenges; also communicates these to related departments.

  • Assists all lighting designers throughout the production process, supporting the successful execution of their designs through accurate communicate and paperwork.

  • Prepares bid documents and monitors lighting construction and preparation to ensure that productions are assembled per the design concepts and within the company budget.

  • Collaborates with Master Electrician with regards to installation and running of all lighting, projection, electrics and special effects projects on stage.

  • Generates and disseminates lighting paperwork and drawings - or assigns such work when applicable - communicating and coordinating all documents with the technical staff and stage management prior to distribution of such information.

  • Maintains union employee relations and coordinates with Human Resources when needed, ensuring compliance with stagehand CBA provisions and company policies, including all health and safety policies.

  • As assigned by Managing Director: Production, revives lighting designs and/or serves as associate designer for guest lighting or projection designers.
  • Supports and enforces all company and stage safety policies, working closely with the Master Electrician and electrics and projection crews to ensure clarity and compliance.


  • Assists the Technical staff in the planning and scheduling of the maintenance period on stage.
  • Works closely with Production Finance Director to prepare and monitor lighting, special effects and projection budgets, both in terms of seasonal operations and capital expenditures.

  • Collaborates on daily technical production notes, and assists as needed in their creation, dissemination and completion.

  • Converts each production’s data and required materials into archival documentation and drawings.

  • As assigned by Managing Director: Production, designs lighting looks for productions, concerts, and/or special events, both inside the War Memorial Opera House and in alternate venues.
  • Collaborates with Technical & Safety Director and Production Finance Director in the creation of lighting and projection equipment needs and development through capital budget plans for the organization.
  • Oversees and assimilates the artistic adaptation of all lighting and projections designs for video and media use as needed, communicating throughout with guest lighting and projection designers as needed.
  •  Performs other job-related duties as assigned.


E-mail required cover letter and résumé with salary requirements directly to employment@sfopera.com or fax to (415) 551-6297. Please state "Lighting Director - SFO26" in the subject line. No phone calls please.  San Francisco Opera only retains résumés that are sent in response to specific, posted job openings.

Qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records will be considered for this position in accordance with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance. 


Questions about Membership or this application? Please contact Vincent Covatto, organizational membership manager, at VCovatto@operaamerica.org or by calling 646.699.5237.
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