The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco is located on the western side of Van Ness Avenue across from the rear facade of City Hall. It is part of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. The house has 3.146 seats plus 200 standing room places. It has been the home of the San Francisco Opera since opening night in 1932.

The San Francisco Symphony performed most of its concerts in the house, from 1932 to 1980. In later years the orchestra used a special acoustical shell that was placed around the musicians, greatly enhancing acoustics for concerts. The orchestra's final concert in the house was an all-Beethoven concert, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, in June 1980.


In spring of 1945, the United Nations had its first conference there. The UN Charter was later drafted and signed in the Herbst Theatre next door. Six years later in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco was drafted and signed here and in the Herbst Theatre.

In 1989, the powerful Loma Prieta earthquake that shook the Bay Area caused major damage to the Opera House. The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the theatrical consulting firm of Auerbach and Associates were retained in 1992 to oversee the building's technical renovation and a seismic retrofit. At this time additional private donations were raised for extensive technical improvements.

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Culture, Earthquake, Opera, Ballet, Buildings