Performances Feature Two Distinct International Casts Including
Željko Lučić, Marco Vratogna, Aleksandra Kurzak, Albina Shagimuratova, Francesco Demuro and David Lomelí
San Francisco Opera’s 2012–13 Season opens on September 7 with Verdi’s Rigoletto, the vivid and compelling story of a vengeful court jester desperately attempting to protect his daughter from disaster. Conductor Nicola Luisotti leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, together with 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. On Saturday, September 8, San Francisco Opera opens Rigoletto with a second renowned cast featuring Marco Vratogna, Albina Shagimuratova and David Lomelí. Rigoletto runs for 12 performances through September 30, alternating between the two casts of principals.
Serbian baritone Željko Lučić returns to San Francisco as Rigoletto, a role he has previously performed in Paris, Cologne, Madrid and Dresden; he will also perform the role this season at Milan’s La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Lučić made his San Francisco Opera debut as Giorgio Germont in 2004’s La Traviata and returned in 2005 as Don Carlo in La Forza del Destino under the baton of Nicola Luisotti. Italian baritone Marco Vratogna, who also sings the title role, returns to San Francisco Opera after recent successful appearances as Iago in 2009’s Otello and in 2010 as Amonasro in Aida. Other recent engagements include Scarpia in Tosca at Milan’s La Scala, the Vienna State Opera, and in Valencia; Iago in Frankfurt; and Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera in Dresden. These performances mark Vratogna’s role debut as Rigoletto.
Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak makes her San Francisco Opera debut as Gilda, a role she has performed at the Metropolitan Opera, Milan’s La Scala, and in Parma, Hamburg, Helsinki, and Toulouse. Later this season, she will reprise the role at Polish National Opera and at Zurich Opera. Recent operatic appearances include Juliette in Roméo et Juliette at the Arena di Verona, Violetta in La Traviata at Polish National Opera and Mimì in La Bohème in Naples. Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova, who also appears as Gilda, first appeared at San Francisco Opera as the Queen of the Night in 2012’s The Magic Flute. She returns to the Company in a role she has previously performed at Houston Grand Opera and Palm Beach Opera; she also sings the role at Lyric Opera of Chicago later this season. Other recent appearances include the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Violetta in La Traviata with Houston Grand Opera and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at The Glyndebourne Festival.
A native of Sardinia, tenor Francesco Demuro makes his San Francisco Opera debut as the lecherous Duke of Mantua. Demuro has previously performed this role in Hong Kong, Parma, Turin, Vienna, Beijing, and Dresden. Career highlights include Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore at Milan’s La Scala and the Vienna State Opera; Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Vienna State Opera and in Detroit; and Alfredo Germont in La Traviata with Seattle Opera and in Dresden, Verona, and Santiago, Chile. He returns to San Francisco Opera in 2013 as Ferrando in Così fan tutte, a role he has previously performed in Tokyo. Mexican tenor David Lomelí is a former Adler Fellow who also appears as the Duke. Lomelí made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2009 as Alfredo Germont in La Traviata and returned as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. He has previously appeared as the Duke of Mantua in Toronto, Karlsruhe and most recently at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 2013 Lomelí will sing the role again at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this production. At San Francisco Opera, Luisotti most recently conducted Verdi’s Attila, in a new production he also premiered at Milan’s La Scala. Other recent appearances include the rarely performed I Masnadieri with Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, where he is also music director; Tosca at Teatro alla Scala; and concerts with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras and the Orquesta Nacional de España. This season at San Francisco Opera, Nicola Luisotti will also conduct Puccini’s Tosca, Wagner’s Lohengrin and Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte. Opera and theater director Harry Silverstein returns to direct this San Francisco Opera production with sets designed by Michael Yeargan. The final two performances will be conducted by Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.
Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark / Saturday, September 15
Also in celebration of the new season, San Francisco Opera partners with Webcor Builders and the San Francisco Giants to present the Company’s seventh free live simulcast at AT&T Park on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 8 p.m. Verdi’s Rigoletto, featuring a celebrated cast of singers and conducted by Nicola Luisotti, will be simulcast live from the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park’s high-definition scoreboard. 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 more than 165,000 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 tenth free simulcast presented by San Francisco Opera under David Gockley’s leadership.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the twelve performances of Rigoletto are scheduled for September 7 (8 p.m.), September 8 (8 p.m.), September 11 (8 p.m.), September 12 (7:30 p.m.), September 15 (8 p.m.), September 16 (2 p.m.), September 18 (8 p.m.), September 19 (7:30 p.m.), September 21 (8 p.m.), September 23 (2 p.m.), September 25 (7:30 p.m.) and September 30 (2 p.m.) 2012.
Tickets for performances of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the War Memorial Opera House are priced from $22 to $340 and may be purchased at sfopera.com or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office [301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street), or by phone at (415) 864-3330]. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only.
The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street. 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 more public transportation information, visit bart.gov and sfmuni.com.
Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about Rigoletto and San Francisco Opera’s 2012–13 season, please visit sfopera.com.
The September 15 Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark simulcast at AT&T Park is free and open to the public; advance online registration assures early entrance into the ballpark for preferred seating and entry into a special prize drawing. Visit sfopera.com/simulcast to register.