SEPTEMBER 11th – “Opera In The Park” – The City’s Civic Observance of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists in a program featuring Mozart’s Requiem and works by Harold Arlen, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Christopher Theofanidis, and John Williams

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera has announced that the Company’s annual free Opera in the Park concert at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, on Sunday, September 11th at 2:00 pm, has been recognized as the City and County of San Francisco’s civic observance commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Presented by the SF Chronicle and San Francisco Opera, with the participation of the Office of the Mayor of San Francisco, the Honorable Edwin M. Lee, in cooperation with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, this year’s special Opera in the Park concert will honor the memory of those who perished on 9/11 and celebrate the service and heroism of the Bay Area’s first responders including firefighters, paramedics and police, among others. The concert follows the September 10th world premiere of Heart of A Soldier, a new opera commissioned by San Francisco Opera in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and acclaimed soloists from the Company’s Fall 2011 Season in a concert featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s masterpiece, the Requiem in D minor, and inspirational works by American composers Harold Arlen, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and John Williams, as well as music by Christopher Theofanidis, the award-winning composer of Heart of a Soldier. During the Mozart Requiem, musical movements will be interspersed with meditational texts read by members of the broad religious community that comprise the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley will serve as master of ceremonies and will be joined on stage by a roster of distinguished political, interfaith and civic dignitaries offering remarks on this national day of remembrance. This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Complete program and artist information will be announced at a later date.


“This year’s Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 11 coincides with the tenth anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “The evening before, on Saturday, September 10, the Company will give the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, an opera we commissioned based on a true story of a courageous man who, on that fateful day of 9/11, displayed extraordinary heroism, leadership and self-sacrifice in order to save the lives of more than 2,700 individuals. Our musical programming for the park concert will follow this theme as we respectfully mourn the loss of so many lives but also pay homage to our very own first responders.  I am proud of our partnership with Mayor Lee and his recognition of this musical event as the City’s official civic observance, in addition to the participation and guidance of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and the on-going support of our Opera in the Park presenting sponsor, the San Francisco Chronicle. We invite the Bay Area to join us on this day of community remembrance and celebration.”

“San Francisco Opera has created a fitting tribute to remember the tragedy of 9/11,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “San Francisco will never forget the men and women that died on that tragic day nearly a decade ago, and although our City is on a different American shore and far from the terrorist events, we stand united with our fellow Americans as we honor the memories of those who perished.”

San Francisco Interfaith Council Executive Director Michael Pappas commented, “Immediately after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, former Mayor Willie Brown turned to the San Francisco Interfaith Council to bring people of our City’s diverse faiths together for prayer and solidarity. Now, ten years later, the Interfaith Council is grateful to Mayor Lee and San Francisco Opera for this uniquely San Franciscan occasion to remember those who died in the attacks, to honor the first responders and to reflect upon lessons learned over the last decade, not the least of which is the need for civil discourse. It is our collective hope that this civic observance will inspire all who will gather to sow the seeds of peace in our City and the world.”

A beloved Bay Area tradition, San Francisco Opera’s free annual Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park draws thousands of music lovers and families each year, many of whom enjoy the occasion with elaborate picnics on the Sharon Meadow lawn. Established by former San Francisco Opera General Director Kurt Herbert Adler in 1971 to celebrate the opening of the Company’s fall season, this concert marks the 38th Opera in the Park concert [there were no presentations in 1972, 1974 and 1990].

Opera in the Park is presented as part of San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2011 season-opening weekend.  The Company opens its 89th season on Friday, September 9 with a gala performance of Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece, Turandot, in a lavish production designed by renowned artist David Hockney and conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti.

On Saturday, September 10th, San Francisco Opera will unveil the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna Di Novelli. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Heart of a Soldier is 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.


A story 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 attacks on September 11, 2001. The cast features baritone Thomas Hampson, tenor William Burden and soprano Melody Moore. Francesca Zambello will direct this world premiere production and San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Six additional performances will be presented through September 30th at the War Memorial Opera House.


Opera in the Park is made possible, in part, by Opening Weekend Grand Sponsor Diane B. Wilsey. Additional support provided by the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund and Kaiser Permanente.

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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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