SAN FRANCISCO OPERA – Announces 2012/13 Season

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company’s 2012–13 repertory season, guest artists and performance schedule, in addition to three world premiere commissions slated for 2013, Mr. Gockley also announced the extension of his contract to lead San Francisco Opera through the 2015–16 Season along with the extension of contracts for the artistic leadership team of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers, and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

Photos, Terrence McCarthy

THE 2012/13 SEASON

Rigoletto – The Company’s 90th season opens Friday, September 7th with a gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s vivid and compelling story of a vengeful court jester desperately attempting to protect his daughter from disaster. Maestro Luisotti leads an international cast of singers including acclaimed Serbian baritone and Verdi specialist Željko Lučić in the title role, and the Company debuts of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as “Gilda” and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro as the “Duke of Mantua”. Opera Ball, the Company’s celebrated signature benefit event, co-produced with the San Francisco Opera Guild in support of the San Francisco Opera and Opera Guild education programs, will precede the opening night performance at the historic War Memorial Opera House.

I Capuleti e i Montecchi – Vincenzo Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece, The Capulets and the Montagues, inspired by the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, opens Saturday, September 29th. The cast is headlined by international stars Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell as the hapless lovers “Romeo” and “Giulietta”. DiDonato, who wowed San Francisco audiences in her 2007 role debut as “Octavian” in Der Rosenkavalier. Nicole Cabell, winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff “Singer of the World”, makes her role debut in this co-production with Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu makes his Company and role debut as “Tebaldo”. Directed by Vincent Boussard in his U.S. debut and led by returning conductor Riccardo Frizza, this new co-production, which had its debut in Munich in March 2011, features costumes by renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix and sets by Vincent Lemaire.

MOBY DICK. Ben Heppner as Ahab – Morgan Smith as Starbuck
Photo, Karen Almond

Moby-Dick – Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s new adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic meditation on man and the sea, has been met with high praise since its premiere at the Dallas Opera in April 2010. Now making its first appearance in the Bay Area, this San Francisco Opera co-commission stars many of the original cast members, including preeminent Canadian tenor Ben Heppner as “Captain Ahab”, American baritone Morgan Smith as “Starbuck”, American tenor Stephen Costello as “Greenhorn” (Ishmael) and Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu as “Queequeg”.

Lohengrin – Following his great success as “Siegmund” in 2011’s Die Walküre, American tenor Brandon Jovanovich returns to San Francisco Opera to make his title role debut in Wagner’s Lohengrin. Appearing as the noble warrior’s bride, “Elsa von Brabant”, is Finnish soprano Camilla Nylund. Noted Wagnerian artists Kristinn Sigmundsson will sing the role of “Heinrich der Vogler”, Gerd Grochowski is “Friedrich von Telramund” and Petra Lang appears as “Ortrud”. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts his first Wagner opera with the Company, and British stage director Daniel Slater directs.

Tosca – Maestro Nicola Luisotti conducts Puccini’s powerful melodrama of a great singer, a rebellious painter and a corrupt police chief engaged in a deadly test of wills. Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette will share the title role in SF Opera’s elegant production designed by Thierry Bosquet and directed by Jose Maria Condemi. Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu appears with Italian tenor Massimo Giordano in his Company debut as “Mario Cavaradossi”. Italian baritone Roberto Frontali will sinfg “Baron Scarpia”. American soprano Patricia Racette, who performs “Tosca” this month at the Metropolitan Opera, returns to SF Opera to star alongside Brian Jagde as “Mario Cavaradossi”. Baritone Mark Delavan, well-known to Bay Area audiences for his acclaimed portrayal of “Wotan” in the Company’s 2011 Ring cycle, is “Baron Scarpia”. The final two performances, December 1st and 2nd, will be conducted by Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

TOSCA. Angela Gheorghiu – Patricia Racette
Photos, Ken Howard and Scott Suchman

Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden by Bay Area composer Nolan Gasser and librettist Carey Harrison receives its world premiere in March 2013. A unique opportunity for young people to see this familiar story come to life as a fully staged opera, this work is intended for children and families and will feature discounted ticket prices for children under age 18. Presented in partnership with Cal Performances, the opera will be performed at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. This production will be directed by Jose Maria Condemi with projections designed by painter and visual artist Naomie Kremer. Full cast and creative team will be announced at a later date.

Opening June 5th, 2013 is Jaques Offenbach’s melodic masterpiece, Les Contes d’Hoffmann. Distinguished lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani will sing the role of the sensitive poet who searching for love. Popular coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay returns to perform the four women Hoffmann encounters. Mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, who recently appeared with the Company as “Charlotte” in Massenet’s Werther, makes her role debut as “Nicklausse” and Christian Van Horn portrays the four villains who thwart Hoffmann’s desires. Conductor Patrick Fournillier and director Laurent Pelly return for this new co-production with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu designed by Chantal Thomas.


Così fan tutte – Mozart’s ingenious mix of hilarious farce and poignant drama follows two young soldiers who disguise themselves to test their lovers’ fidelity. Opening June 9th, the cast includes: Ellie Dehn (Fiordiligi), Heidi Stober (Despina), Francesco Demuro (Ferrando), Christel Lötzsch (Dorabella), Philippe Sly (Guglielmo), Marco Vinco (Don Alfonso), and Susannah Biller (Despina) in the final two performances. Nicola Luisotti conducts and Jose Maria Condemi directs this SF Opera/Opera Monte Carlo co-production by John Cox and designed by Robert Perdziola.

A new San Francisco Opera commission, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is composer Mark Adamo’s exploration of the narrative of Jesus and his love for complicated women. He draws his libretto from the Gnostic Gospels, the Canonical Gospels and decades of biblical scholarship. The cast includes the Company debut of American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke (Mary Magdalene), soprano Maria Kanyova (Miriam), William Burden (Peter), and Nathan Gunn (Yeshua). Director Kevin Newbury and conductor Michael Christie make their San Francisco Opera debuts with this production opening June 19th.

NATHAN GUNN – As “Yeshua”
Photo, David-Bachman

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