LSM Newswire

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

San Francisco Opera Announces 2010-11 Season Repertory and Casting

Music Director Nicola Luisotti Launches 88th Season September 10 with Verdi’s Aida, Featuring Micaela Carosi, Marcello Giordani, Dolora Zajick, Marco Vratogna and Hao Jiang Tian

Ten Productions Including Cyrano de Bergerac with Plácido Domingo;
Werther with Ramón Vargas and Elīna Garanča;
The Makropulos Case with Karita Mattila and Miro Dvorsky; and
Le Nozze di Figaro with Danielle de Niese and Luca Pisaroni

Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Summer 2011:
Donald Runnicles Conducts Three Cycles of Francesca Zambello’s New Production;
Renowned Cast Includes Nina Stemme, Mark Delavan, Ian Storey, Anja Kampe,
Larissa Diadkova, Brandon Jovanovich, Stefan Margita and Gordon Hawkins

All Performances at War Memorial Opera House
Subscribe Today: Call 415-864-3330 or visit

SAN FRANCISCO, January 19, 2010—San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced repertory and casting for the Company’s 88th season to begin Friday, September 10 with Music Director Nicola Luisotti leading a gala opening performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s grand Egyptian opera, Aida. Highlights of the 2010–11 Season include the return of legendary tenor Plácido Domingo in the title role of Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Karita Mattila’s role debut as Emilia Marty in Leoš Janáček’s The Makropulos Case. The season will culminate with three complete cycles of Richard Wagner’s magnum opus for the lyric stage, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), as conceived by director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Donald Runnicles.

Sixty-six performances of ten opera productions—seven of which are new to San Francisco audiences—are planned for the 2010–11 Season, bringing internationally renowned opera singers, conductors and directors together with the acclaimed San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, the latter directed by Ian Robertson. The operas are Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida; a new production of Jules Massenet’s Werther; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro); Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly; the Company premiere of Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac; a new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Makropulos Case; and Richard Wagner’s epic four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), comprised of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The season runs September 10 through December 5, 2010 and May 29 through July 3, 2011. Subscriptions go on sale to renewing subscribers on January 19, 2010. [See accompanying press release for Ring ticket information.]

Music Director Nicola Luisotti, the Company’s “ideal new maestro” (The New York Times), will conduct Aida, Le Nozze di Figaro and Madama Butterfly. Former Company music director and acknowledged Wagner authority Donald Runnicles will return for the complete Ring cycle in the summer of 2011. Making their San Francisco Opera debuts will be conductors Jiří Bĕlohlávek, a renowned Janáček specialist, for The Makropulos Case; French conductor Patrick Fournillier for Cyrano de Bergerac; and Julian Kovatchev conducting the November performances of Madama Butterfly. San Francisco Opera welcomes back Emmanuel Villaume to lead Werther and the Company’s Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi to conduct encore performances of Aida in November and December.

San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello continues her relationship with the Company by directing the first complete performances of her new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 2011. Acclaimed directors Jo Davies (Aida), Petrika Ionesco (Cyrano de Bergerac) and Francisco Negrin (Werther) make their San Francisco Opera debuts, and the Company welcomes back John Copley (Le Nozze di Figaro), Jose Maria Condemi (Madama Butterfly) and Olivier Tambosi (The Makropulos Case).

“Despite the challenging economy, I believe the timing is right to move ahead with our plans to present the complete Ring next year directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Donald Runnicles,” said David Gockley. “With the Ring requiring so many of our resources, I’m excited that we could offer such quality and quantity in the balance of the fall season. In fact, I’m proud to say that five of our six fall season productions will be new to San Francisco audiences. We also look forward to the return of Plácido Domingo, who returns to the War Memorial Opera House to perform on the stage that he identifies with so many of his earlier successes.”

“As I have said many times during this challenging financial period,” continued Gockley, “I remain committed to presenting some of the world’s leading artists and next year is no exception, especially with the Company debuts of Micaela Carosi, Elīna Garanča, Anja Kampe, Danielle de Niese, Ian Storey and conductor Jiří Bĕlohlávek among so many others. And finally, I am very happy to welcome back our new music director Nicola Luisotti, who will be at the helm of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus.”

“I am very honored to return to San Francisco Opera next season and for the opportunity to conduct Aida, Figaro and Butterfly, three extraordinary operas that will feature some of the most important singers of today,” said Nicola Luisotti. “I love this company, the city and the whole Bay Area community, and want to encourage everyone to take pride in their opera company and to attend a performance. Music, and opera in particular, is truly one of the great universal gifts that we can all enjoy. I believe we have created a very attractive opera season that will inspire all of us and offer many unforgettable evenings in this great theater.”

The 2010–11 Season features the Company debuts of many renowned artists, including sopranos Michele Capalbo (Aida/Aida), Micaela Carosi (Aida/Aida), Melissa Citro (Freia, Ortlinde and Gutrune/ Der Ring des Nibelungen), Ellie Dehn (Countess Almaviva/Le Nozze di Figaro), Anja Kampe (Sieglinde/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Danielle de Niese (Susanna/Le Nozze di Figaro) and Heidi Stober (Sophie/Werther, Susanna/Le Nozze di Figaro); mezzo-sopranos Elīna Garanča (Charlotte/Werther), Michèle Losier (Cherubino/Le Nozze di Figaro), Ronnita Miller (Erda and First Norn/Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Guang Yang (Amneris/Aida); tenors Thiago Arancam (Christian/Cyrano de Bergerac), and Ian Storey (Siegfried/Der Ring des Nibelungen); baritones Gerd Grochowski (Jaroslav Prus/The Makropulos Case, Gunther/Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Gordon Hawkins (Alberich/Der Ring des Nibelungen); and bass-baritones Kostas Smoriginas (Figaro/Le Nozze di Figaro) and Christian Van Horn (King of Egypt/Aida, The Bailiff/Werther, The Bonze/Madama Butterfly).

Many acclaimed singers will be returning to the War Memorial Opera House, including sopranos Ainhoa Arteta (Roxane/Cyrano de Bergerac), Daniela Dessì (Cio-Cio-San/Madama Butterfly), Karita Mattila (Emilia Marty/The Makropulos Case), Heidi Melton (Sieglinde and Third Norn/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde/Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Svetla Vassileva (Cio-Cio-San/Madama Butterfly); mezzo-sopranos Larissa Diadkova (Fricka/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Daveda Karanas (Suzuki/Madama Butterfly, Waltraute and Second Norn/Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Dolora Zajick (Amneris/Aida); tenors David Cangelosi (Mime/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Plácido Domingo (Cyrano de Bergerac/Cyrano de Bergerac), Miro Dvorsky (Albert Gregor/The Makropulos Case), Marcello Giordani (Radames/Aida), Brandon Jovanovich (Siegmund and Froh/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Stefan Margita (Loge/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Stefano Secco (Pinkerton/Madama Butterfly), Ramón Vargas (Werther/Werther) and Carlo Ventre (Radames/Aida); baritones Mark Delavan (Wotan/Der Ring des Nibelungen), Quinn Kelsey (Sharpless/Madama Butterfly, Amonasro/Aida), Lucas Meachem (Count Almaviva/Le Nozze di Figaro), Trevor Scheunemann (Count Almaviva/Le Nozze di Figaro) and Marco Vratogna (Amonasro/Aida); bass-baritones Eric Owens (Ramfis/Aida), Luca Pisaroni (Figaro/Le Nozze di Figaro) and Daniel Sumegi (Fafner and Hunding/Der Ring des Nibelungen); and basses Andrea Silvestrelli (Fasolt and Hagen/Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Hao Jiang Tian (Ramfis/Aida).


San Francisco Opera’s 88th season opens on Friday, September 10 with Verdi’s Aida, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti and featuring an illustrious cast that includes Micaela Carosi, Marcello Giordani, Dolora Zajick, Marco Vratogna and Hao Jiang Tian. A highlight of the City’s cultural and philanthropic season, the Opening Night Gala festivities include Opera Ball 2010, presented by 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 12 at 1:30 p.m. in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s Fall 2010 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.


San Francisco Opera’s 88th season culminates with the May–July 2011 presentation of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), the composer’s epic four-opera cycle. The four operas in this new production by internationally celebrated director Francesca Zambello—Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—will be presented in San Francisco for the first time as a complete cycle. These performances mark the world premiere of Zambello’s new production of Götterdämmerung. In conjunction with other Bay Area cultural institutions, San Francisco Opera will present a series of events for patrons to connect with the work in new and compelling ways and to interact with fellow Ring cycle subscribers. Ancillary activities will include lectures, performances and exhibits throughout 2011. A complete calendar of events will be announced in May 2010.

            Maestro Donald Runnicles will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in these performances that feature an international roster of singers, including Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Mark Delavan (Wotan), Stefan Margita (Loge), Ian Storey (Siegfried), Gordon Hawkins (Alberich), Larissa Diadkova (Fricka), David Cangelosi (Mime), Anja Kampe (Sieglinde) and Brandon Jovanovich (Siegmund and Froh). [See related news release for further details.]  


Continuing what has become a beloved Bay Area tradition, San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Giants partner with Webcor Builders to present the Company’s fifth free live simulcast at AT&T Park on Friday, September 24, 2010. Verdi’s Aida, featuring a celebrated cast of singers and conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, will be simulcast live from the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park’s high-definition scoreboard. As a unique opportunity for fans to enjoy the sights and sounds of San Francisco Opera in one of the nation’s foremost ballparks, the Company’s simulcasts at AT&T Park have drawn over 90,000 people, many experiencing opera for the first time. Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark is made possible through the extraordinary technology of the Koret-Taube Media Suite. This event marks the eighth free simulcast presented by San Francisco Opera under David Gockley’s leadership.


Aida – Giuseppe Verdi
San Francisco Opera’s 2010–11 Season opens with Verdi’s classic masterpiece Aida. A compelling tale of conflicting loyalties and forbidden passions, this spectacular production, previously seen at English National Opera and Houston Grand Opera, is designed by Zandra Rhodes and directed by Jo Davies. The cast features Italian soprano Micaela Carosi making her Company debut in the title role, renowned Verdian mezzo-soprano and former Adler Fellow Dolora Zajick as Amneris, and Marcello Giordani making his role debut as Radames. Returning after his highly-praised performance in last season’s Otello is Marco Vratogna as Amonasro; baritone Hao Jiang Tian returns to San Francisco Opera as Ramfis after his 2008 Company debut as Chang the Coffinmaker in The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Music Director Nicola Luisotti leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

San Francisco Opera will present five additional performances of Aida in November/December 2010. These performances feature the San Francisco Opera debuts of Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo as Aida and Chinese mezzo-soprano Guang Yang as Amneris. Tenor Carlo Ventre returns as Radames after his recent Company appearance in 2009’s Tosca; Quinn Kelsey and Eric Owens return as Amonasro and Ramfis. Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi conducts.

Werther – Jules Massenet
Bringing one of his signature roles to San Francisco Opera, renowned Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas appears as Werther, a poet who cannot bear the pain of unfulfilled love. Making her San Francisco Opera debut as Werther’s beloved Charlotte is Musical America’s 2010 Vocalist of the Year, Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča. Soprano Heidi Stober makes her Company debut as Charlotte’s sister Sophie and baritone Brian Mulligan returns as Albert, Charlotte’s betrothed. Massenet’s opera, which is based on Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, was last presented at the War Memorial Opera House in 1985. This new co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, directed by Francisco Negrin, debuts in San Francisco and is led by French conductor Emmanuel Villaume.

Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart’s eternally popular comedy Le Nozze di Figaro features a cast of vivid characters headlined by young Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni as Figaro and soprano Danielle de Niese in her highly-anticipated Company debut as Susanna. American soprano Ellie Dehn debuts as the Countess Almaviva and former Adler Fellow Lucas Meachem is her philandering husband. Making her Company debut as Cherubino is Canadian mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier. Performing in the final three performances of this production are Kostas Smoriginas as Figaro, Heidi Stober as Susanna and Trevor Scheunemann as Count Almaviva. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the Company’s beloved production directed by John Copley.

Madama Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Puccini’s tragic love story stars Bulgarian soprano Svetla Vassileva as the geisha Cio-Cio-San, a role she will share with Italian soprano Daniela Dessì; former Adler Fellow Daveda Karanas is Butterfly’s maid and confidante, Suzuki. Following his Summer 2010 appearances in the title role of Faust is tenor Stefano Secco as Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, with baritone Quinn Kelsey as the American consul Sharpless, a role he shares with Brian Mulligan. This production from Lyric Opera of Chicago, which is presented at San Francisco Opera for the first time and directed by Jose Maria Condemi, was created by legendary Tony Award winning Broadway stage director Harold Prince and inspired by traditional Japanese theater. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti and Julian Kovatchev conduct.
Cyrano de Bergerac – Franco Alfano
Legendary tenor Plácido Domingo makes his long-awaited return to San Francisco Opera after a 10-year absence, portraying Cyrano de Bergerac, the swordsman-poet with an enormous heart and even larger nose. Domingo, who made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1969, has appeared in more than a dozen roles with the Company over the past forty years. This production marks the Company premiere of Alfano’s opera, based on the famed play of the same name written by French poet Edmond Rostand. Roxane, the beautiful object of Cyrano’s affection, is sung by Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta, and Thiago Arancam makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Christian de Neuveville. French conductor Patrick Fournillier and director Petrika Ionesco are reunited to lead to this large-scale production which premiered at Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet in May 2009.

The Makropulos Case – Leoš Janáček
Following her triumphs in the title roles of Jenůfa and Káťa Kabanová, Finnish soprano Karita Mattila returns to San Francisco Opera to star in one of Janáček’s most intriguing operas—The Makropulos Case. Making her role debut as the mysterious Emilia Marty, Mattila reunites with Olivier Tambosi, director of her triumphant San Francisco Opera Manon Lescaut in 2006. Tenor Miro Dvorsky returns to the Company as Albert Gregor and bass-baritone Gerd Grochowski is Baron Jaroslav Prus, in his San Francisco Opera debut. Czech conductor and Janáček expert Jiří Bĕlohlávek conducts these performances, which mark the premiere of this co-production with Finnish National Opera.


 Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) – Richard Wagner
(Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung)
In Summer 2011, San Francisco Opera presents director Francesca Zambello’s highly anticipated new presentation of Der Ring des Nibelungen, featuring an internationally renowned cast. Wagner’s epic four-opera cycle explores the lust for power, the lure of gold, the sacred beauty of nature and the destructive impulses of mankind through the gradual unfolding of a timeless mythical tale. The four operas will be presented in three complete cycles, each over the course of one week. In advance of the complete cycles, the Company will present one performance of Siegfried and one performance of Götterdämmerung. Swedish soprano and Wagner specialist Nina Stemme sings Brünnhilde in her complete Ring cycle role debut after she appears with the Company this summer in Die Walküre. Baritone Mark Delavan returns to sing his complete Ring cycle debut as Wotan after his triumphant role debut with the Company in 2008’s Das Rheingold and his upcoming performance in this summer’s Die Walküre. Tenor Ian Storey makes his Company debut and his role debut as Siegfried and Gordon Hawkins also makes his Company debut as Alberich, a role he sang to great acclaim at Washington National Opera. Russian mezzo-soprano Larissa Diadkova appears as Fricka and David Cangelosi returns as Mime. Soprano Anja Kampe sings Sieglinde, which she recently performed at Washington National Opera; American tenor Brandon Jovanovich makes his role debut as Siegmund. Maestro Donald Runnicles will be on the podium for these cycles. Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried are co-productions with Washington National Opera and Götterdämmerung is a new San Francisco Opera production premiere. [See related news release for further details.]  


Subscriptions for San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2010 Season are priced from $96 to $1,824 for Full Series (6 operas) and $48 to $1,216 for Half Series (3 or 4 operas); these prices reflect discounts of up to 30% over single ticket prices. Subscriptions go on sale to renewing subscribers on January 19, 2010. Patrons interested in new subscriptions may call or visit the Opera Box Office starting January 19, 2010. New subscriptions will be available online at beginning February 17, 2010. Single tickets for San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2010 Season performances are priced from $20 to $320 and will go on sale July 11, 2010 at 10am.
Tickets for Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen are offered in complete four-opera cycles only. Complete cycles are priced from $120 to $2,800 and may be purchased through the San Francisco Opera Box Office. Tickets to the non-subscription performances of Siegfried (May 29, 2011) and Götterdämmerung (June 5, 2011) will be available for purchase to renewing subscribers and donors to the 201011 San Francisco Opera Season beginning March 19, 2010.
Please visit for further details, or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330. San Francisco Opera Box Office winter hours: Monday 10am–5pm; Tuesday through Friday 10am–6pm. All casting, repertoire, dates, and ticket prices are subject to change.
All War Memorial Opera House performances (except the September 10 season opening) feature an informative Pre-Opera Talk 55 minutes prior to curtain. Pre-Opera Talks are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance.
Opera Guild Preview Lectures are scheduled in communities throughout the greater Bay Area by local Guild chapters. Renowned musicologists lead presentations to familiarize the audience with repertoire from the current season. Admission prices vary.
Opera Guild Insight Panel Discussions feature renowned artists and personalities from the world of opera, who share their insights and experiences during informal panel discussions. Free to Opera Guild members, $5 for non-members.
San Francisco Opera introduced OperaVision in Summer 2007 as an innovative way to give balcony audiences a better view of the stage. OperaVision screens, hung from the ceiling of the balcony section at selected perfomances, provide close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video. English subtitles appear at the bottom of each screen. OperaVision is offered at three performances of each opera and for all performances of the Ring cycle. See calendar listing for more information.
The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue. Patrons are encouraged to use public transportation to attend San Francisco Opera performances. The War Memorial Opera House is within walking distance of the Civic Center BART station and near numerous bus lines, including 5, 21, 47, 49 and the F Market Street. For further public transportation information, visit and



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