It’s not unusual for “Tosca” to end in tears. This time, though, they were tears of joy for a real-life couple.
During curtain call at San Francisco Opera, bass Soloman Howard proposed to soprano Ailyn Perez to raucous cheers from the crowd.
Howard asked Perez to marry him “in front of God, in front of my sisters and cousins, and most importantly in front of your mom and dad,” according to San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook.
“I didn’t have a clue about what was going on,” Perez told ABC News, adding that she thought Howard was just walking up to give her a hug.
She was “awestruck,” she said, and “it was one of those moments where my soul was just paying all attention to what he was saying.”
The audience roared as he got down on one knee, video from KQED’s Gabe Meline shows, and Perez jumped up and down before kissing him. Howard stood and picked her up in a twirling embrace.
It already would have been a momentous night for Perez: on top of opening San Francisco Opera’s season live and in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered theater doors, Perez was singing the titular role of the Puccini masterpiece for the first time. The San Francisco Examiner described Perez’s role debut as “meltingly beautiful.”
Howard sang Angelotti, a role that kicks the plot into action. He told ABC News he and Perez had been arranging for their families to see the show, but she wanted hers to come to an earlier performance, as Sunday was the final night of the run.
“I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no, I need them here on the fifth, trust me,'” Howard laughed.
When the family got to San Francisco, Perez said Howard was acting strange, withdrawing from conversation and spending a lot of time on his phone. That’s because he was planning the proposal, Howard said.
“I think I have a future at playing villains, because I relished in her frustration — because I knew the payoff,” he joked.
Seriously though, Perez said, “We come from very large, faithful, spiritual, praying families that have been eager for us to find that peace and that special soul to call home. So everyone’s excited that their prayers are answered.”
“Returning to the stage this fall has been an energizing and cathartic journey for the artists, employees, and audiences of San Francisco Opera,” SFO General Director Matthew Shilvock said in a statement to ABC News. “It’s hard to imagine a more fitting and joyous conclusion to our season-opening production of ‘Tosca’ than seeing Soloman propose to Ailyn on the War Memorial Opera House stage.”
Howard, who’s from Washington, D.C., and Perez, who’s from Chicago, have been dating for three years.
As for when the wedding will take place, the couple said it’ll come down to their “unofficial wedding planners” — their managers, who will determine when their work schedules will line up for a celebration.
The opera — spoiler alert — does not end well for Angelotti or Tosca.
But thanks to this curtain call moment, one audience member wrote on Instagram with a photo of Howard and Perez embracing, “And finally Tosca had a beautiful ending.”
View this post on Instagram