BORIS GODUNOV – Opens tonight at the War Memorial Opera House

Samuel Ramey celebrates 30th Anniversary with San Francisco Opera

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera presents the Company premiere of the original 1869 version of Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV, starring legendary American bass-baritone Samuel Ramey in the title role. The opera opens tonight at the War Memorial Opera House with six additional performances through November 15th. Mussorgsky’s masterpiece, presented here in its original seven-scene version, is a theatrical experience of searing intensity that brings to life the lavish pageantry and political intrigue of czarist Russia in the mid-16th century.

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TSAR BORIS GODUNOV I & SAMUEL RAMEY, Bass-Baritone. Photo, Christian Steiner

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For the first time on the War Memorial Opera House stage, SAMUEL RAMEY sings his signature role of Boris Godunov, the Russian ruler haunted by a horrible act he committed years earlier. For nearly three decades, Samuel Ramey has reigned as one of the world’s foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic repertoire. The combination of his commanding vocalism, exceptional musicianship, and uncommon theatrical abilities has enabled him to portray a wide variety of roles in all of the leading opera houses of the world. The unique expressiveness of the bass voice has inspired many composers to assign the portrayal of villains to basses, and it is in this repertoire that Mr. Ramey has established a reputation unequaled in the musical world. A three-time Grammy Award winner, Mr. Ramey also holds the distinction of being the most recorded bass in history. These performances mark Mr. Ramey’s 30th anniversary with the Company. He made his San Francisco Opera debut as “Colline” in Puccini’s LA BOHÈME in November 1978 and was last seen here in Verdi’s SIMON BOCCANEGRA in 2001 and in a 2003 concert presentation where he was presented with the San Francisco Opera Medal, the Company’s highest honor.

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MODEST MUSSORGSKY, Composer & VASSILY SINAISKY, Conductor

An internationally renowned cast joins Mr. Ramey in this production, including John Uhlenhopp as Prince Shuisky, Vitalij Kowaljow as Pimen, Vsevolod Grivnov as Grigory, and Vladimir Ognovenko as Varlaam. Conductor Vassily Sinaisky, former music director of the Moscow Philharmonic and Russian State Orchestra, makes his San Francisco Opera debut. Opera and theater director Julia Pevzner also makes her Company debut with this production. Originally produced by the Grand Théâtre de Genève, the production features set designs by Göran Wassberg, costume designs by Kari Gravklev, and lighting design by Duane Schuler.

Each performance of Boris Godunov is preceded by a free Pre-Opera Talk to enhance the opera-going experience for ticketholders. Peter Susskind, conductor and music director of the South Bay Youth Orchestra, presents the 25-minute Boris Godunov Pre-Opera Talks, which take place in the Orchestra Section of the main theater 55 minutes prior to curtain. Opera Talks are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance.

BORIS GODUNOV is sung in Russian with English supertitles.
To purchase tickets on line, click on the link below:
Wednesday, October 22nd, 7:30 pm
Thursday, October 30th, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 2nd, 2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 4th, 8:00 pm
Friday, November 7th, 8:00 pm
Wednesday, November 12th, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 15th, 8:00 pm

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CDs by SAMUEL RAMEY, Bass-Baritone – BORIS GODUNOV and OPERA ARIAS

Click on the title to add these recordings of Samuel Ramey to your Classical Library:
CD – BORIS GODUNOV. By Modest Mussorgsky. Featuring Alexander Fedin (Tenor), Philip Langridge (Tenor), Samuel Ramey (Bass), Anatoly Kotcherga (Bass), Elena Zaremba (Soprano), Wojciech Drabowicz (Bass), Mikhail Krutikov (Baritone), Liliana Nichiteanu (Soprano), Gleb Nikolsky (Bass), Helmuth Wildhaber (Tenor) Sergei Larin (Tenor), Marjana Lipovsek (Alto), Albert Shagidullin (Tenor), Sergei Leiferkus (Baritone), Yevgenia Gorokhovskaya (Mezzo Soprano), Valentina Valente (Soprano). Claudio Abbado conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Tölz Boys Choir, Slovak State Philharmonic Chorus, Berlin Radio Chorus. This recording is the original orchestration – the 1872 version incorporating elements from the 1869 version. Recorded in November 1993 at the Berliner Philharmoniker. Click here to buy the MP3 Download for $24.99: BORIS GODUNOV

CD – LA BOHÈME. by Giacomo Puccini. Featuring Daniel Hoadley (Tenor), Enrico Fissore (Baritone), Jeffrey Carl (Baritone), Juliet Oppenheimer, Kathryn Turpin (Mezzo Soprano), Leontina Vaduva (Soprano), Paul Parfitt (Baritone), Philip Sheffield (Tenor), Richard Fallas (Bass), Roberto Alagna (Tenor), Ruth Ann Swenson (Soprano), Samuel Ramey (Bass), Simon Keenlyside (Baritone), Thomas Hampson (Baritone). Antonio Pappano conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Oratory Junior Choir, and London Voices. Click here to buy the MP3 Download for 13.97: LA BOHÈME

CD – SAMUEL RAMEY, Airs d’ Opéras. Disc includes arias from Simon Boccanegra, Ernani, Nabucco, Robert le Diable, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Don Carlos, etc. Jacques Delacote conducts the Munich Radio Orchestra. Click here to buy the MPE Download for $9.49: SAMUEL RAMEY, Airs d’ Opéras

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield 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”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. 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: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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