The main entrance of the War Memorial Opera House.
Photo by Terrence McCarthy
*SAN FRANCISCO* — General Director Pamela Rosenberg announced details of San Francisco Opera’s 83rd Season during a press meeting at the Opera House on Wednesday, January 12. With nine productions, the new season will be presented September 10, 2005-July 2, 2006 at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.
“I’m very proud of the season we’ve put together,” commented Rosenberg. “I believe the diversity of themes and production styles offered illustrate my belief that opera is and should be about more than just words and music. Opera should connect to real events in the lives of real people, provoking thought and emotion as well as comfort and consolation for the soul. All of that is reflected in the works we have selected for presentation next season.”
The season opens September 10th with Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers starring mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina. This production, which is new to San Francisco Opera, will be led by the Company’s Music Director and Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles. The opening festivities include the annual opening night gala, Opera Ball 2005, presented by the San Francisco Opera Guild, benefiting education outreach programs, BRAVO! CLUB’s Opening Night Celebration and the annual Opera in the Park concert on Sunday.
The Company’s 83rd Season also marks the highly anticipated world premiere of Doctor Atomic (opening October 1); a new work commissioned by San Francisco Opera, and created by composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars. Other highlights include an all-new production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino created by San Francisco Opera and featuring soprano Andrea Gruber and tenor Sergej Larin, as well as Company premieres of Handel’s Rodelinda with soprano Catherine Naglestad and Tchaikovsky’s The Maid of Orleans starring mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick.
Highlights of the 2005-06 Season
THE ITALIAN GIRL IN ALGIERS – Rossini
For the season opener, mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina stars as the heroine of Rossini’s sparkling comedy, alternating with Vivica Genaux (1997 ARIA Award winner) making her San Francisco Opera debut in the last four performances. This 1930’s-style production from the Santa Fe Opera will be directed by Christopher Alexander and led by the Company’s Music Director and Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles, alternating with Robert Wood for the last four performances.
RODELINDA – Handel
This San Francisco Opera premiere features soprano Catherine Naglestad, who debuted in 2002 with a virtuoso portrayal of Handel’s Alcina. Also returning are renowned countertenor David Daniels and mezzo-soprano Kristine Jepson, who debuted as Sister Helen in San Francisco Opera’s 2000 world premiere production of Dead Man Walking. Originally premiered in 2003, this co-production with the Bavarian State Opera evokes American film noir.
DOCTOR ATOMIC – Adams
This new work commissioned by San Francisco Opera reunites composer John Adams and director/librettist Peter Sellars (collaborators on Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer and El Nino). Based on true events, the opera follows the development of the first atomic bomb. Debuting baritone Gerald Finley (2000 Olivier Award winner) and mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (who debuted in 1998’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea) will take the stage as J. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty Oppenheimer. Performances will be conducted by Donald Runnicles.
In recognition of the importance of Doctor Atomic’s world premiere and to acknowledge the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, San Francisco Opera will host and co-produce a number of special events highlighting the history and ethical issues surrounding the Manhattan Project. Partnering with the Opera on these projects and programs thus far are, the Exploratorium, UC Berkeley, Humanities West, the American Physical Society and the World Year of Physics, with more to be announced.
NORMA – Bellini
Bay Area native soprano Catherine Naglestad returns to star in one of the most daunting pieces in the operatic repertory, featuring the vocal tour de force “Casta diva.” This production, originally presented by the Canadian Opera Company, will be conducted by Oleg Caetani (who debuted in 2003’s The Magic Flute) and Sara Jobin (who debuted in last year’s Tosca) and staged by debuting director James Robinson.
LA FORZA DEL DESTINO – Verdi
Not seen at San Francisco Opera in over a decade, this Verdi classic returns in a sleek, all-new production directed by Ron Daniels and featuring sets by debuting designer Roland Aeschlimann and costumes by Andrea Schmidt-Futterer. Debuting maestro Nicola Luisotti leads soprano Andrea Gruber (praised by The Financial Times for her “marvelous freedom and generosity of tone”) as Leonora and tenor Sergej Larin as Don Alvaro.
FIDELIO – Beethoven
Wagnerian soprano Christine Brewer, whose voice was hailed by The Guardian (U.K.) as “quite simply, one of the greatest in the world,” makes her San Francisco Opera mainstage role debut (she appeared in the Company’s 50th Birthday Concert for Donald Runnicles last fall) as Leonore in Beethoven’s only opera. Joining her will be Finnish bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo (debuted last fall in the title role of The Flying Dutchman) as Don Pizzaro. This San Francisco Opera production will be led by Donald Runnicles and directed by Michael Hampe.
MADAMA BUTTERFLY – Puccini
This Puccini favorite returns with soprano Patricia Racette in the title role and also features mezzo-soprano Zhen Cao returning as Suzuki along with tenor Franco Farina as Pinkerton and baritone Philip Joll as Sharpless, both making Company debuts. Directed by Ron Daniels and designed by Michael Yeargan, the popular San Francisco Opera production will be conducted by Donald Runnicles.
THE MAID OF ORLEANS – Tchaikovsky
The San Francisco Opera premiere of Tchaikovsky’s epic work will showcase the artistry of mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in her role debut as Joan of Arc along with baritone Rodney Gilfry, who starred in the Company’s 2004 premiere of Doktor Faust. Led by Oleg Caetani, this opulent production from Teatro Regio Torino will be directed by Christopher Alexander and features sets and costumes by debuting designer Luisa Spinatelli.
THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO – Mozart
A dream cast highlights Mozart’s most popular comedy, starring San Francisco Opera favorite Ruth Ann Swenson as the Countess (alternating with former Adler Fellow and 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Auditions winner Twyla Robinson). Former Adler Fellow John Relyea (1993 Richard Tucker Award winner) and debuting baritone Christopher Feigum share the title role of Figaro, and sopranos Camilla Tilling and Cora Burggraaf debut as Susanna. Returning as Cherubino is mezzo-soprano Claudia Mahnke (Dorabella in 2004-05’s Così fan tutte). Roy Goodman conducts this San Francisco Opera production directed by John Copley.
Go to the SFO’s website for additional information regarding scheduling, tickets and other matters.