SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – Single tickets go on sale Sunday, July 10th, at 10 AM

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Single (non-subscription) tickets for San Francisco Opera’s 2011–12 Season, running from September 9 through December 4, 2011 and June 8 through July 3, 2012 at the historic War Memorial Opera House, will go on sale to the public on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10 a.m. Single tickets will be available for David Hockney’s beloved production of Puccini’s Turandot, the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier by Christopher Theofanidis and Donna Di Novelli, the Company premiere of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia starring Renée Fleming, a new production premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Company premiere of Handel’s Xerxes, Bizet’s Carmen, the Bay Area stage premiere of Philip Glass’ Nixon in China, a new co-production of Verdi’s Attila with Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, and a new production premiere of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The San Francisco Opera Box Office, located at 301 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 10 for in-person sales or by phone at (415) 864-3330.
Click here to order tickets on-line: SFOpera

10 Performances: September 9th through November 25th
Iréne Theorin (Turandot) and Marco Berti (Calaf)

Giacomo Puccini’s final masterpiece opens the 2011–12 Season under the baton of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, who conducted this melodically rich, colorfully orchestrated work to great acclaim at London’s Royal Opera House in 2009. This passionate tale of a princess whose cruelty masks her fear of love features some of the composer’s most glorious music, including the stirring anthem “Nessun dorma.” Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin, internationally acclaimed for her interpretation of the vengeful Princess Turandot, is making her Company debut. Tenor Marco Berti – hero of SF Opera’s Il Trovatore, 2009 – sings “Calaf” and Adler Fellow Leah Crocetto appears as the pathetic “Liu”. and and “one of the preeminent Italian singers of his generation” ( The striking San Francisco Opera/Lyric Opera of Chicago co-production, featuring David Hockney’s dazzling sets and directed by Garnett Bruce, returns in November led by Giuseppe Finzi with an equally impressive ensemble led by American dramatic soprano Susan Foster and Italian tenor Walter Fraccaro.

The September 9th opening-night celebrations include Opera Ball 2011 and BRAVO! CLUB’s Opening Night Gala. Hailed as one of the City’s premier philanthropic cultural events, Opera Ball raises funds to benefit San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild’s education and outreach programs. On Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., the Company’s annual free San Francisco Chronicle Presents San Francisco Opera in the Park concert at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park will be a special program commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Complete program information will be announced at a later date. Also in celebration of the new season, San Francisco Opera presents a free live simulcast of Turandot to AT&T Park, home of the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants, at Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark on Sunday, September 25th at 2:00 p.m.

7 Performances: September 10th through September 27th
Thomas Hampson — Melody Moore

San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna Di Novelli, based on the critically acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart and the life stories of Susan Rescorla, Rick Rescorla and Daniel J. Hill. Exploring the themes of war, love, friendship and heroism, Heart of a Soldier reflects on the extraordinary true story of Rick Rescorla, a man trained to be a consummate soldier who gave up his own life saving thousands in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. Starring baritone Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla), tenor William Burden (Daniel J. Hill) and soprano Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla), Heart of a Soldier is directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers. The production team also includes set designer Peter J. Davison, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projection designer S. Katy Tucker and movement director Rick Sordelet. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Heart of a Soldier will premiere on Saturday, September 10, 2011—the eve of the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

7 Performances: September 23rd through October 11th
RENÉE FLEMING — As “Lucrezia Borgia”

Vitalij Kowaljow — Elizabeth DeShong — Michael Fabiano

Soprano Renée Fleming, one of the most acclaimed artists and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, returns to San Francisco Opera after an absence of ten years for the Company premiere of Donizetti’s melodically rich bel canto masterpiece Lucrezia Borgia. Borgia, a femme fatale renowned for her ruthless pursuit of power, reveals poignant vulnerability when she comes face to face with her long-lost son. Fleming, who sings this signature title role will be joined by mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini), tenor Michael Fabiano (Gennaro) and bass Vitalij Kowaljow (Alfonso d’Este), led by conductor Riccardo Frizza. Michael Fabiano, a grand prize winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, makes his Company debut and replaces the originally scheduled Francesco Meli, who has withdrawn. This Washington National Opera production, created for Fleming, marks the Company directorial debut of John Pascoe.

9 Performances: October 15th through November 10th
Nicola Luisotti — Ellie Dehn — Lucas Meachem

In Don Giovanni, Mozart uses a bold, beguiling blend of comedy and drama to tell the tale of a proud, predatory nobleman and the women who are drawn to him. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast of exciting young singers led by former Adler Fellow Lucas Meachem, who starred as Count Almaviva in last fall’s Le Nozze di Figaro, in the title role. Soprano Ellie Dehn, who made her Company debut last year as Countess Almaviva opposite Meachem, is Donna Anna. The cast also features the Company debuts of soprano Serena Farnocchia (Donna Elvira), mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey (Zerlina), tenor Topi Lehtipuu (Don Ottavio) and bass Marco Vinco (Leporello). Noted Italian film and theater director Gabriele Lavia makes his U.S. debut and set designer Alessandro Camera and costume designer Andrea Viotti make their Company debuts in this new San Francisco Opera production premiere.

6 Performances: October 30th through November 19th
Susan Graham — David Daniels — Sonia Prina

Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Handel productions of our time, this visually stunning Olivier Award–winning staging of Xerxes by famed film and theater director Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) marks the Company premiere of one of the best-loved Baroque operas. Clever comedy is intertwined with tender poignancy in a tale of unrequited love and intrigue at a royal court. Patrick Summers leads an outstanding cast featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (Xerxes), countertenor David Daniels (Arsamenes), soprano Lisette Oropesa (Romilda), soprano Heidi Stober (Atalanta), contralto Sonia Prina (Amastris) and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges (Ariodates). Michael Walling directs Hytner’s English National Opera production.

11 Performances: November 6th through December 4th
Thiago Arancam — Kate Aldrich — Paulo Szot

Thrilling but dangerous, the captivating, capricious Carmen is one of the most vivid characters in all of opera. Mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich stars in the title role in this classic San Francisco Opera production of Bizet’s Carmen by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. Tenor Thiago Arancam, fresh from his success in last fall’s Cyrano de Bergerac, is Don José, the man who unwisely falls under Carmen’s spell. Baritone Paulo Szot, a Tony Award–winner for South Pacific and highly regarded for his role in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent production of Shostakovich’s The Nose, makes his Company debut as Escamillo. Jose Maria Condemi directs and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi leads the final two performances.

7 Performances: June 8th through July 3rd, 2012

Brian Mulligan – Maria Kanyova – Simon O’Neill

Nixon in China, John Adams’ rhythmically rich recreation of a presidential trip to Beijing has established itself as a great American opera and a work of “clarity, simplicity, and shocking elegance” (The New York Times). A quarter-century after its premiere at Houston Grand Opera under the leadership of David Gockley, this seminal work receives its long-awaited Bay Area stage premiere. In a Vancouver Opera production directed by Michael Cavanagh, the cast features Brian Mulligan, whose rich baritone thrilled audiences in San Francisco Opera’s Faust (2010) and Werther (2010), in the title role. The cast also includes Maria Kanyova (Pat Nixon), Simon O’Neill (Mao Tse-tung), Hye Jung Lee (Madame Mao Tse-tung), Chen-Ye Yuan (Chou En-lai) and Patrick Carfizzi (Henry Kissinger). Lawrence Renes, whose conducting of Adams’ Doctor Atomic won praise from London critics, will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

ATTILA THE HUN – 12 June 2012 through 1 July 2012

In popular imagination, Attila the Hun was a ruthless barbarian, but to Giuseppe Verdi he was a far more complex and compelling figure: a brave, ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts. This new San Francisco Opera/Teatro alla Scala co-production of Attila, which premiered in Italy in June 2011 led by Nicola Luisotti in his La Scala conducting debut, is staged by Gabriele Lavia with sets by Alessandro Camera and costumes by Andrea Viotti. The distinguished cast features legendary Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role; the Company debuts of soprano Lucrezia Garcia (Odabella) and tenor Fabio Sartori (Foresto)—a role shared by Diego Torre for two performances; baritone Quinn Kelsey (Ezio) and renowned bass Samuel Ramey (Pope Leo I). Maestro Luisotti will also lead the San Francisco performances. Lucrezia Garcia and Fabio Sartori replace the previously announced Oksana Dyka and Ramón Vargas, who have both had to withdraw from this production.

THE MAGIC FLUTE – 13 June 2012 – 8 July 2012
Nathan Gunn as “Papageno”

Endlessly inventive, charmingly fantastical and utterly unique, Mozart’s The Magic Flute is a profound yet lighthearted tale of romantic love, spiritual transcendence and the beguiling art of birdcatching. The internationally acclaimed ensemble cast is led by dynamic young conductor Rory Macdonald and includes lyric tenor and former Adler Fellow Alek Shrader as Tamino (shared with Nathaniel Peake for two performances), soprano Heidi Stober (Pamina), acclaimed baritone Nathan Gunn (Papageno), bass Kristinn Sigmundsson (Sarastro), and in the opera’s most virtuosic role, Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova. Sung in English, this new San Francisco Opera co-production is created by renowned Japanese-American visual artist Jun Kaneko and directed by Harry Silverstein.

San Francisco Opera presents Carmen for Families, a two-and-a-half hour version of this season’s exciting production, in two afternoon performances sung in English on November 27th and December 4th, 2011. Opera newcomers will thrill to the captivating music of this ever-popular work featuring the alluring Gypsy girl Carmen, the Spanish soldier who loves her and the brave bullfighter who wins her heart. This production is the perfect introduction to opera for children aged 10 and up. Conducted by Giuseppe Finzi, the engaging young cast of San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows includes mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani (Carmen) and tenor Brian Jagde (Don José).

Brian Jagde — Maya Lahyani


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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:

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