While in the middle of an exciting season with Nicola Luisotti as new music director, the San Francisco Opera has just announced its 2010-11 season, revealing an equally exciting series of operas and events.
Ten productions will be on the War Memorial Opera House stage, seven of which are new to the San Francisco audience. Just as the 2009-10 season started with an audience favourite, Il trovatore, the 88th season starts with another of Verdi's masterpieces, Aida. From 10 September, Luisotti will conduct performances featuring Micaela Carosi, making her Company debut in the title role, Marcello Giordani, Dolora Zajick, Marco Vratogna and Hao Jiang Tian. This production, previously seen at the ENO and Houston Grand Opera, is designed Zandra Rhodes and directed by Jo Davies.
There will be five additional performances of Aida in November and December 2010. These will feature the Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo as Aida and Chinese mezzo-soprano Guang Yang as Amneris. Tenor Carlo Ventre returns as Radames; Quinn Kelsey and Eric Owens complete the cast. Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi will conduct.
A special event will take place on Sunday 12 September, marking the conclusion of the season-opening weekend. There will be the free annual concert in Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadow featuring artists from the Company's Fall 2010 season, accompanied by the SFO Orchestra and Luisotti.
Massenet's Werther will be on stage in September and October, and it features an exceptional cast: Ramón Vargas appears in the title role, and he will be joined be Elina Garanca in her SFO debut. SFO's Werther is a new production in collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago, directed by Francisco Negrin. French conductor Emmanuel Villaume will conduct.
Still in September, renowned Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni and celebrated soprano Danielle DeNiese will be Figaro and Susanna respectively in a revival of Le Nozze di Figaro. American soprano Ellie Dehn debuts as the Countess Almaviva and former Adler Fellow Lucas Meachem will play her husband. The final three performances of this production will feature a different cast: former Covent Garden Young Artist Kostas Smoriginas as Figaro, Heidi Stober as Susanna and Trevor Scheunemann as Count Almaviva. Luisotti will conduct this production directed by John Copley.
In October and November, Puccini's Madama Butterfly will be back in the repertoire. Bulgarian soprano Svetla Vassileva will start as the geisha Cio-Cio-San. She will share the role with Italian soprano Daniela Dessì. Former Adler Fellow Daveda Karanas will be Butterfly's confidante, Suzuki. Stefano Secco will sing Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, with baritone Quinn Kelsey as Sharpless, a role he will share with Brian Mulligan. This production is a company premiere, after it was originally presented at Lyric Opera of Chicago. It's directed by Jose Maria Condemi it was created by legendary Tony Award winning Broadway stage director Harold Prince and inspired by traditional Japanese theater. Luisotti and Julian Kovatchev will share the podium.
A highlight of the season is certainly Franco Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac, a Company premiere, which marks an extraordinary return: after ten years of absence, legendary tenor (and baritone, after his Simon Boccanegra debut in Berlin) Plàcido Domingo returns to the War Memorial Opera House, giving life to the swordsman-poet protagonist of Alfano's opera. Cyrano's beloved, Roxane, will be sung by Spanish Soprano Ainhoa Arteta, and Thiago Arancam will join them as Christian de Neueville. This Cyrano is a large-scale production directed by Petrika Ionesco, that premiered at Paris' Théâtre du Châtelet in May 2009. French conductor Patrick Fournillier will conduct.
Another important return is that of Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who will sing Emilia in one of Janacek's most intriguing operas, The Makropulos Case, in a co-production with the Finnish National Opera. This will be a debut in this role for Mattila. She will be joined by tenor Miro Dvorsky as Albert Gregor and bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski as Baron Jaroslav Prus. Czech conductor and Janácek expert Jirí Belohlávek will conduct these performances.
The 2010-11 season ends in May through July with something spectacular: the SFO will present director Francesca Zambello's highly anticipated new Ring Cycle, featuring an exceptional cast. Wagner specialist Nina Stemme will be Brünnhilde in her complete Ring cycle role debut after she appears with the Company in Summer 2010 in Die Walküre. Mark Delavan, who will also sing in Die Walküre, returns to San Francisco for his Ring Cycle debut as Wotan. Tenor Ian Storey makes his Company and role debut as Siegfried; Gordon Hawkins also makes his Company debut as Alberich, who he sang at Washington National Opera with great acclaim. Larissa Diadkova will sing Fricka and David Cangelosi will be Mime. Renowned soprano Anja Kampe will sing Sieglinde, while American tenor Brandon Jovanovich will make his role debut as Siegmund. Donald Runnicles will conduct all the performances.
The four operas will be presented in three complete cycles, each over the course of one week. In addition, before the beginning of the 2011 Cycle, the Company will present one performance of Siegfried and one performance of Götterdämmerung. Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried are co-productions with Washington National Opera while Götterdämmerung is a new SFO world premiere.
Finally, it's important to remember one of the most successful initiatives organized by the SFO, in partnership with the San Francisco Giants with Webcor Builders. This is the fifth free live simulcast at AT&T Park: on Friday 25 September 2010, Verdi's Aida will be broadcast live from the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park's high-definition scoreboard. The SFO annual live broadcast is one of the most beloved Bay Area traditions, and it's normally attended by over 90,000 people. This spectacular event marks the eighth free simulcast presented by San Francisco Opera under David Gockley's leadership.
To know more about the San Francisco Opera 2010-11 season visit http://sfopera.com/.
Photos: Plácido Domingo (Credits: EMI/Sheila Rock). Danielle de Niese in Le Nozze di Figaro (Credits: Marty Sohl). Ramon Vargas in Werther (Credits: Marty Sohl). Die Walküre (Credits: Karin Cooper).
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