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Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in News | 0 comments

San Francisco Opera Announces 2013-14 Season

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the repertory, guest artists, conductors and creative teams for the Company’s 2013–14 Season. A highlight of the Company’s 91st season will be the world premiere of Dolores Claiborne, a new opera commissioned by San Francisco Opera based on the 1992 novel by award-winning author Stephen King and marking the Company debuts of American composer Tobias Picker and librettist J. D. McClatchy. Joining David Gockley at the press conference were Dolores Claiborne cast members Dolora Zajick and Elizabeth Futral, in addition to Tobias Picker, J. D. McClatchy and stage director James Robinson.

Dolores Claiborne is David Gockley’s sixth commissioned work for San Francisco Opera since his appointment as company general director in 2006. Previous operas commissioned by Gockley include Appomattox (2007), The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2008), Heart of a Soldier (2011), and upcoming presentations of The Secret Garden (March 2013) and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (June 2013).

In a related announcement, San Francisco Opera confirmed plans to commission Italian composer Marco Tutino for a new work, La Ciociara (Two Women), based on 20th century Italian author Alberto Moravia’s novel of the same name, with a libretto by the composer and Fabio Ceresa, adapted from a script by Luca Rossi, by arrangement with Studio Legale Cau Morandi Minutillo Turtur. Moravia’s critically acclaimed 1958 work was quickly adapted in 1960 by noted Italian film producer Carlo Ponti into a film which starred Sophia Loren.  Sung in Italian, Tutino’s La Ciociara, will be conducted by Nicola Luisotti at the War Memorial Opera House in June 2015. San Francisco Opera has commissioned seven operas under David Gockley’s leadership and this work will mark the 40th commission of his career.

Other season highlights include the Company’s official celebration of the bicentennial birthdays of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner with four works; six productions new to Bay Area audiences; and the Company debut of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s landmark 1927 musical drama Show Boat.  The season will be officially launched Friday, September 6, 2013 with a gala performance of Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele, a lyrical retelling of Goethe’s Faustlegend, conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti and featuring the Company’s acclaimed Robert Carsen production. All performances include the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus at the historic War Memorial Opera House.

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley commented, “We have a good mix of repertory for next year, and I’m especially pleased that we will have the opportunity to offer debuts of a number of very important singers and designers. In addition to celebrating the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner, we will also have the chance to present the world premiere of Tobias Picker and J. D. McClatchy’s adaptation of Stephen King’s thrilling story,Dolores Claiborne.  If ever there was a Stephen King novel that had all the makings for the lyric stage, this is certainly the one.”

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti commented, “To open the new season with Boito’s Mefistofele, an opera beloved and championed by Verdi himself, means a lot to me as we celebrate the bicentennial season of Verdi. I’m honored to lead the Company’s recognition of Italy’s finest opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi with his final masterpiece Falstaff, set to a libretto by Boito, followed by his soul-stirring Requiem Mass, and later with the great romantic drama, La Traviata.  I’m sure Maestro Verdi would be very pleased.”

The Company’s main-stage season will continue to be heard nationwide and abroad on the San Francisco Opera International Radio Broadcast series presenting taped live performances from the 2013–14 season, in addition to select archival recordings that have been recently re-mastered and digitized. These monthly broadcasts will be heard locally in the Bay Area on Classical KDFC FM and nationwide via the WFMT radio network.  Annually, more than 4 million individuals listen to San Francisco Opera on their local radio station or online.

In addition to planned main-stage performances, San Francisco Opera will offer two beloved al fresco concerts: Opera in the Park at Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow and Opera at Sigmund Stern Grove; the annual Adler Fellows Gala Concert; the Schwabacher Recital Series; and the very popular free community simulcast, Opera at the Ballpark, presented live at AT&T Park, home of the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants.


The 2013–14 Season features the Company debuts of renowned artists, including soprano Sonya Yoncheva (Violetta Valéry/La Traviata); mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard (Rosina/Il Barbiere di Siviglia); tenor Javier Camarena (Count Almaviva/ Il Barbiere di Siviglia); baritones Fabio Capitanucci (Ford/Falstaff), Audun Iversen (Figaro/Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Vladimir Stoyanov (Giorgio Germont/La Traviata); and bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro (Doctor Bartolo/Il Barbiere di Siviglia).


Many singers will be returning to the War Memorial Opera House, including sopranos Ainhoa Arteta (Mistress Alice Ford/Falstaff), Susannah Biller (Selena St. George/Dolores Claiborne), Elizabeth Futral (Vera Donovan/Dolores Claiborne), Ailyn Pérez (Violetta Valéry/La Traviata), Patricia Racette (Marguerite, Elena/Mefistofele; Julie La Verne/Show Boat; Cio-Cio-San/Madama Butterfly), Petra Maria Schnitzer (Senta/Der Fliegende Holländer), Angela Renée Simpson (Queenie/Show Boat) and Heidi Stober (Nannetta/Falstaff; Magnolia Hawks/Show Boat); mezzo-sopranos Catherine Cook (Berta/Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki/Madama Butterfly), Daniela Mack (Rosina/Il Barbiere di Siviglia), and Dolora Zajick (Dolores Claiborne/Dolores Claiborne); contralto Meredith Arwady (Mistress Quickly/Falstaff); tenors Stephen Costello (Alfredo Germont/La Traviata), Francesco Demuro (Fenton/Falstaff), Greg Fedderly (Detective Thibodeau/Dolores Claiborne), Brian Jagde (Pinkerton/Madama Butterfly), Saimir Pirgu (Alfredo Germont/La Traviata), Alek Shrader (Count Almaviva/Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Ian Storey (Erik/Der Fliegende Holländer), and Ramón Vargas (Faust/Mefistofele); baritones Alessandro Corbelli (Doctor Bartolo/Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Nathan Gunn (Gaylord Ravenal/Show Boat), Quinn Kelsey (Giorgio Germont/La Traviata), Lucas Meachem (Figaro/Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Brian Mulligan (Sharpless/Madama Butterfly); bass-baritones Greer Grimsley (The Dutchman/Der Fliegende Holländer), Bryn Terfel (Sir John Falstaff/Falstaff) and Wayne Tigges (Joe/Dolores Claiborne); and basses Ildar Abdrazakov (Mefistofele/Mefistofele), Morris Robinson (Joe/Show Boat), Kristinn Sigmundsson (Daland/Der Fliegende Holländer) and Andrea Silvestrelli (Don Basilio/Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Pistola/Falstaff).


Conducting the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus will be Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti (Mefistofele, Falstaff, Verdi Requiem, La Traviata and Madama Butterfly), Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers (Der Fliegende Holländer) and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi (Il Barbiere di SivigliaLa Traviata and Madama Butterfly); returning conductor John DeMain (Show Boat)and George Manahan (Dolores Claiborne) making his Company debut. The San Francisco Opera Chorus is led by Chorus Director Ian Robertson and Associate Chorus Master Fabrizio Corona.

The creative teams featured in the 2013–14 Season comprise many respected directors and designers: James Robinson directs a world premiere production featuring the work of scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schuette, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz (Dolores Claiborne); Francesca Zambello directs her stunning new production with sets designed by Peter J. Davison, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Mark McCullough, sound design by Tod Nixon, and choreography by Michele Lynch (Show Boat); director Emilio Sagi leads an innovative new production with sets designed by Lorenç Corbella and costumes by Pepa Ojanguren (Il Barbiere di Siviglia); Petrika Ionesco directs a production he also designed, with costumes by Lili Kendaka and projections by S. Katy Tucker (Der fliegende Holländer); French stage director Olivier Tambosi directs a whimsical production designed by Frank Philipp Schlossman (Falstaff); Leslie Swackhamer directs a bold and colorful production created by Japanese sculptor and artist Jun Kaneko (Madama Butterfly); and Laurie Feldman directs Robert Carsen’s San Francisco Opera production, featuring designs by Michael Levine (Mefistofele) and John Copley’s San Francisco Opera production designed by John Conklin with costumes by David Walker (La Traviata).


World Premiere 

Dolores Claiborne – Tobias Picker and J. D. McClatchy
Based on the novel by Stephen King
By arrangement with Andrew Welch
San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Tobias Picker and J. D. McClatchy’s opera Dolores Claiborne, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by award-winning author Stephen King and presented by arrangement with British theatrical producer Andrew Welch. In 1995 King’s novel was also adapted into a feature film starring Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Judy Parfitt. This San Francisco Opera commission will star mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in the title role alongside Elizabeth Futral as Vera Donovan, Susannah Biller as Claiborne’s daughter Selena St. George, Wayne Tigges as her abusive husband Joe St. George, and Greg Fedderlyas Detective Thibodeau. In his Company debut, George Manahan will conduct and James Robinson, whose previous assignments at the War Memorial Opera House include the 2009 season productions of Il Trittico andSalome, will return to direct. This new production will also feature the work of set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schuette, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz. This two-act opera, sung in English, is Picker and McClatchy’s first opera commissioned by San Francisco Opera, and reunites them since their first collaboration on Emmeline, for the Santa Fe Opera in 1996.

Company Premiere 

Show Boat – Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
A true classic of American musical theater, this Company premiere of Show Boat, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, features director Francesca Zambello’s new grand-scale production. A beloved story of life on the Mississippi in the 1920’s, Show Boat is both a poignant love story and a powerful reminder of the bitter legacy of racism. American soprano Heidi Stober returns to San Francisco Opera to make her role debut as Magnolia Hawks and soprano Patricia Racette returns to take on the role of Julie La Verne for the first time. Baritone Nathan Gunn is the handsome gambler Gaylord Ravenal, Morris Robinson is Joe and Angela Renée Simpson is his wife Queenie. Maestro John DeMain, who last conducted San Francisco Opera’s 2009 production of another music theater masterpiece, the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Zambello’s stunning production features choreography by Michele Lynch, sets by Peter J. Davison, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Mark McCullough and sound design by Tod Nixon. This San Francisco Opera co-production premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago in February 2012 and these performances will reunite the creative team the created the original production.

In conjunction with these performances, the San Francisco Opera Education Department will present Exploration Workshops for the whole family. To receive updates regarding Exploration Workshops, sign up for E-Opera

New Productions

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) – Gioachino Rossini
Rossini’s witty and charming tale of a wily barber, a strong-willed young woman and a lecherous old man, Il Barbiere di Siviglia features two charismatic casts in a fresh new San Francisco Opera production. One cast is led by baritone Lucas Meachem as Figaro as well as American mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard as Rosina and Mexican tenor Javier Camarena as Count Almaviva, both in their Company debuts. Italian baritone Alessandro Corbellireturns as the elderly Doctor Bartolo. The next cast features Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen in his United States debut and the return of two former Adler fellows: mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack as Rosina and tenor Alek Shraderas Count Almaviva. Bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro appears with the Company for the first time as Doctor Bartolo. Both casts are completed by bass Andrea Silvestrelli as Don Basilio and mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook as Berta. San Francisco Opera Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this new production directed by Emilio Sagi with sets designed by Lorenç Corbella and costumes by Pepa Ojanguren.

Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) – Richard Wagner
Wagner’s mythic tale of a condemned ship captain and the woman who will do anything to redeem him, Der Fliegende Holländer is presented in an inventive co-production with Opéra Royal de Wallonie (Belgium). This production is presented in celebration of the bicentennial of Richard Wagner’s birth. Bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who thrilled San Francisco audiences as a powerful Jokanaan in 2009’s Salome, returns in the title role. Other noted Wagnerians complete the cast: Petra Maria Schnitzer in her role debut as the Dutchman’s steadfast love Senta, Ian Storey (Siegfried in 2011’s Götterdämmerung) as Erik and Kristinn Sigmundsson as Daland. San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers conducts and Petrika Ionesco (who also directed and designed 2010’sCyrano de Bergerac) directs a production he also designed, with costumes by Lili Kendaka and projections by S. Katy Tucker.

Productions New to the Bay Area

Falstaff – Giuseppe Verdi
A brilliant comedy about a lecherous glutton who vainly attempts to seduce two women at once, Falstaff features Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel in one of his legendary signature roles. Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta is Mistress Alice Ford and Italian baritone Fabio Capitanucci makes his Company debut as her husband Ford. Soprano Heidi Stober returns as Nannetta, Meredith Arwady is Mistress Quickly and Francesco Demuro is Fenton. This Lyric Opera of Chicago production, designed by Frank Philipp Schlossman, is directed by French stage director Olivier Tambosi and conducted by Nicola Luisotti.

Madama Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini
Puccini’s beautiful yet tragic love story pairs soprano Patricia Racette and tenor Brian Jagde, who recently appeared together in  the Company’s Fall 2012 production of Puccini’s Tosca, as the geisha Cio-Cio-San and Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong is Butterfly’s maid and confidante Suzuki, and Brian Mulligan is the American consul Sharpless. Following the great success of Jun Kaneko’s new production of The Magic Flute in 2012, these performances will feature Kaneko’s bold and colorful production and costume designs and will be directed by Leslie Swackhamer. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi leads the final two performances.

Revivals of San Francisco Opera Productions

Mefistofele (Mephistopheles) – Arrigo Boito
San Francisco Opera’s season opens with Boito’s setting of Goethe’s Faust, in one of the most impressive productions ever seen at the War Memorial Opera House. The title role of Mefistofele is sung by Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov in his staged role debut, soprano Patricia Racette appears as both Marguerite and Elena, and Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas is Faust, the philosopher who sells  his soul to the devil in exchange for perpetual youth, in his fully-staged role debut as well. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this monumental work of “choral grandeur and melodic richness” (The New York Times). Robert Carsen’s impressive San Francisco Opera production, featuring designs by Michael Levine, is directed by Laurie Feldman. This production, in a performance from 1989 with Samuel Ramey in the title role, was recorded and initially available on VHS and aired as part of WNET’s “Great Performances,” and more recently available on DVD.

La Traviata – Giuseppe Verdi
Two spectacular casts bring to life Verdi’s most beloved opera, La Traviata. Portraying the deceptively high-spirited yet delicate Violetta Valéry are Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva in her United States operatic debut and American soprano Ailyn Pérez. Complementing Yoncheva as Violetta’s beloved Alfredo Germont is Albanian tenorSaimir Pirgu, and Bulgarian baritone Vladimir Stoyanov is Alfredo’s controlling father Giorgio Germont. Opposite Pérez are American tenor Stephen Costello as Alfredo Germont and Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey as Giorgio Germont. This beloved and opulent San Francisco Opera production, conceived by John Copley and designed byJohn Conklin with costumes by David Walker, will be directed by Laurie Feldman. Music Director Nicola Luisottiand Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi will share the conducting assignment.

Nicola Luisotti Conducts the Verdi Requiem, October 25
The Barber of Seville for Families, November 24 & 30

San Francisco Opera and Music Director Nicola Luisotti will celebrate Giuseppe Verdi’s bicentennial with a special performance of the Italian master’s Requiem on October 25, 2013. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus will be joined by a quartet of superb soloists: soprano Leah Crocetto, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Michael Fabiano and bass Vitalij Kowaljow.

San Francisco Opera will present The Barber of Seville for Families, a two-hour version of this season’s exciting production, in two afternoon performances sung in English with English supertitles on November 24 and 30, 2013. A perfect introduction to opera for children and audiences of all ages, the captivating music of this ever-popular work will thrill opera newcomers. This production will feature an engaging young cast of San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and features a new English translation by Marcie Stapp, commissioned by San Francisco Opera. In conjunction with these performances, the San Francisco Opera Education Department will present Exploration Workshops for the whole family. To receive updates regarding Exploration Workshops, sign up for E-Opera

Opening Night Galas, September 6
Opera in the Park, September 8

San Francisco Opera’s 91st season opens on Friday, September 6 with Boito’s Mefistofele, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti and featuring an illustrious cast that includes Ildar Abdrazakov, Patricia Racette and Ramón Vargas. A highlight of the City’s cultural and philanthropic season, the Opening Night Gala festivities include Opera Ball 2013, presented in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera Guild and benefiting San Francisco Opera and the Opera Guild’s education and community programs, and BRAVO! CLUB’s Opening Night Gala, geared toward young professionals.

The season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 8 in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s Fall 2013 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.

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