This Friday, September 8, opens the 95th season for San Francisco Opera with the opening night of a production of Puccini’s Turandot originally staged by English artist David Hockney, directed by Garnett Bruce, and conducted by outgoing Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti — for whom this will be the last season in San Francisco as music director (he plans to return for future engagements as a guest conductor). The night also brings the opening of the season for SF society folk, who will be donning their finest for Friday's Opera Ball at the War Memorial Opera House and an adjacent pavilion.

Because Turandot is set in ancient Peking, the decor for the evening by event designer J. Riccardo Benavides will follow on the theme of the summer palaces of China's imperial past. The event, thrown annually by SF Opera Guild, is being co-chaired by Courtney Labe and Maryam Muduroglu, and there is also a separate opening night event for the BRAVO! Club — SF Opera's membership tier for people aged 21 to 40. The BRAVO! Club Gala comes with pre-show cocktails and a post-show afterparty in the Green Room, and tickets for that can possibly still be had by calling 415-864-3330 (will require BRAVO! Club membership). That's being chaired by Alex Petalas and Victoria Weatherford, and post-show drinks and hors d'oeuvres are being catered by Paula LeDuc.

Puccini’s 1926 masterpiece Turandot — left unfinished at his death and completed by Italian composer Franco Alfano — is set in fabled Peking and follows the courtship of a beautiful and untouchable princess by a mysterious stranger who must triumph in a deadly game of riddles to win her love. The opera is best known for its powerful choruses and arias like “In questa reggia” (“In this palace”), and “Nessun dorma” (“No one sleeps”).

This production stars Austrian soprano Martina Serafin as Princess Turandot, American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree as Liù, and American tenor Brian Jagde as Calaf.

Tickets are still available for Friday's performance — and seats in the upper balcony (which aren't that bad!) start at $26.

And there is a second season premiere, Richard Strauss's Elektra, on Saturday night, September 9.

Then, for those who don't want to go to the opera house at all or don't want to spend any money, the annual free Opera in the Park event happens Sunday afternoon (Sept. 10) in Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, featuring the stars of Turandot and more.

This season at SF Opera, look for a new production of La Traviata, Jules Massenet's Manon, and a world premiere in November of composer John Adams's Girls of the Golden West.

Turandot plays on select nights from September 8 until December 9. Find tickets here.