Sean Martinfield Arts Contributor
San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2012 Season will feature three productions never before seen in San Francisco, opening on Friday, June 8 with the long-awaited Bay Area premiere of Nixon In China by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman. These performances mark the 25th anniversary of this work, originally co-commissioned by David Gockley. The season continues with the San Francisco debut of a new co-production of Verdi’s Attila, opening June 12, which premiered at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in June 2011. The production features legendary Italian bass Ferruccio Furlantto in the title role and Lucrecia Garcia in her Company debut as “Odabella”. Completing the Summer Season is Mozart’s The Magic Flute, beginning June 13, presented in a new production designed by visual artist Jun Kaneko and bringing together a strong ensemble cast including Heidi Stober, Alek Shrader, Nathan Gunn, Kristinn Sigmundsson and Albina Shagimuratova.
NIXON IN CHINA (June 8–July 3)
Music by JOHN ADAMS. Libretto by ALICE GOODMAN
John Adams’ rhythmically rich recreation of Richard Nixon’s 1972 presidential trip to Beijing has established itself as one of the most important American operas of the 20th century. Twenty-five years after premiering at Houston Grand Opera under the leadership of David Gockley and marking the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s historic trip, this presentation of Adams’ seminal work marks its Bay Area stage premiere. The cast features Brian Mulligan, who thrilled audiences in San Francisco Opera’s Faust (2010) and Werther (2010), making his role debut as Richard Nixon. 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 orchestra in an acclaimed Vancouver Opera production directed by Michael Cavanagh. Also making their debuts are Hye Jung Lee (Madame Mao Tse-tung) and Patrick Carfizzi (Henry Kissinger).
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: NIXON IN CHINA
ATTILA (June 12–July 1)
Music by GIUSEPPE VERDI. Libretto by TEMISTOCLE SOLERA
In the popular imagination Attila the Hun is a ruthless barbarian. But to Giuseppe Verdi he is a far more complex and compelling figure: a brave, ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts. This new co-production with Teatro alla Scala was first performed in Italy in June 2011. It was led by Maestro Luisotti who was also making conducting debut at the legendary opera house. The production is staged by Gabriele Lavia with sets by Alessandro Camera and costumes by Andrea Viotti – the same creative team from the fall production of Don Giovanni. This grand, large-scale production celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Italian unification with a bold re-imagining, placing each Act into a separate period of time in Italian history. The character of “Atilla” begins in the ruins of a Roman-era amphitheater. Then he is the Austrian general in a destroyed 19th-century Italian opera house and, finally, he is Attila the politician in a contemporary movie theater.
The distinguished cast features legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role. Making her debut with the Company is Venezuelan soprano Lucrecia Garcia as “Odabella”, a role she has recently performed at La Scala and Seattle Opera. Also featured are Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey (Ezio) and renowned bass Samuel Ramey (Pope Leo I). Mexican tenor Diego Torre, who was originally scheduled to sing Foresto in two performances, will now replace Fabio Sartori in all performances of Attila.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: ATTILA
THE MAGIC FLUTE (June 13–July 8)
Music by WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART. Libretto by EMANUEL SCHIKANEDER
Mozart’s final opera is a profound yet lighthearted tale of romantic love, spiritual transcendence and the beguiling art of bird catching. In this production premiere, 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, a role he will share with Nathaniel Peake for two performances. Soprano Heidi Stober is Pamina, acclaimed baritone Nathan Gunn is Papageno, and bass Kristinn Sigmundsson is Sarastro. In the opera’s most virtuoso role, Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova performs the Queen of the Night. 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. Kaneko, who is known for his large-scale ceramics and permanent installations, has created a bold, colorful production which integrates whimsical costumes and conceptual, graphic projections. Using new state of the art Autodesk Inventor 3D software, the production team and San Francisco Opera production and props departments have created a one of a kind new production at the cutting edge of theatrical technology—the first all-digital production in San Francisco Opera history.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: THE MAGIC FLUTE
In conjunction with this production of The Magic Flute, the San Francisco Opera Education Department will present four interactive, multi-generational workshops based on the themes, story, characters and music of Mozart’s opera. Exploration Workshop: Inside The Magic Flute! is recommended for children ages 8 and up and their families and will take place on Saturday, June 16 at 4–5 pm and 5:30–6:30 pm and Sunday, June 24 at 11 am–12 p.m. and 12:30–1:30 pm at Chorissima Hall in the San Francisco Girls Chorus Building, 44 Page Street. Tickets: $5.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: WORKSHOPS
IN CONCERT: Sunday, June 3, at 3:00 pm
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA ORCHESTRA
Works by Prokofiev, Haydn, and Cherubini
San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances present Music Director Nicola Luisotti and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in concert at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on Sunday, June 3 at 3 p.m. Nicola Luisotti will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, Cherubini’s Symphony in D Major and Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major featuring cellist Amit Peled. The Israeli cellist has toured the United States and Europe extensively in recent years garnering rave reviews for his dramatic and moving interpretations of traditional cello repertoire as well as serving as an ambassador for contemporary Jewish music. He has previously performed as soloist at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, New York; Salle Gaveau, Paris; Wigmore Hall, London; Konzerthaus, Berlin; and Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: SFOpera Orchestra
San Francisco Opera Guild will present an Insight Panel Discussion on May 29 at 6 p.m. in the Herbst Theatre at the War Memorial Veterans Building (401 Van Ness Avenue). This informative discussion will feature members of the cast and production team from Nixon in China. Insight panels are free for Opera members and $5 for the general public; tickets can be purchased at the door 30 minutes prior to the discussion.