SAN FRANCISCO OPERA Welcomes New Music Director – Nicola Luisotti

Celebrating a new era at San Francisco Opera
Single Tickets now on sale

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

This September, San Francisco Opera celebrates the inaugural season of incoming Music Director Nicola Luisotti. One of the most charismatic and sought after conductors of our time and beloved by singers and orchestras around the world, Maestro Luisotti leads four productions in his inaugural season with the Company: Il Trovatore, Salome, Otello and The Girl of the Golden West. San Francisco Opera’s 2009–10 Season opens on Friday, September 11th with Verdi’s Il Trovatore featuring Nicola Luisotti on the podium in his first production as the Company’s music director.

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NICOLA LUISOTTI. Photo, Terrence McCarthy

David McVicar’s critically acclaimed production, directed by Walter Sutcliffe, features Italian tenor Marco Berti in the title role of this suspenseful story of a corrupt count, a dashing warrior and a Gypsy who plots to avenge her mother’s wrongful death. Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to the Company as “Count di Luna”. Quinn Kelsey will replace Mr. Hvorostovsky on 10/4 and 10/6. Sondra Radvanovsky, whose exquisite soprano voice has thrilled audiences from Vienna to New York, makes her San Francisco Opera debut as “Leonora”. Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe makes her first appearance in a fully staged San Francisco Opera production in these performances as “Azucena”. Blythe shares the role with debuting artist Malgorzata Walewska.

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IL TROVATORE. Photo, Robert Kusel

The 2009–10 Season is also highlighted by Puccini’s masterwork, Il Trittico. A triptych that runs the gamut from heart-wrenching tragedy to sparkling comedy, Il Trittico, last presented here in its entirety in 1952, returns to the War Memorial stage with soprano Patricia Racette making role debuts in each of these three one-act operas—Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. Featuring contralto Ewa Podleś, Italian baritone Paolo Gavanelli and tenor Brandon Jovanovich. San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers leads these performances, and James Robinson directs this inventive production from New York City Opera.

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IL TRITTICO – GIANNI SCHICCHI. Photo, Carol Rosegg

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SUOR ANGELICA – Photo, Carol Rosegg

The Daughter of the Regiment (La Fille du Régiment) features acclaimed soprano Diana Damrau making her Company debut singing the title role of Donizetti’s classic opera for the first time. She is joined by Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez, who made the New York Times front page when he sang an encore of his rendition of the opera’s most challenging aria—hitting all nine high Cs not once but twice. Renowned director Laurent Pelly makes his Company debut in a production that has delighted audiences in New York, London and Vienna. Conductor Andriy Yurkevych makes his U.S. debut with this production, replacing the originally scheduled Michele Mariotti.

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JUAN DIEGO FLÓREZ – as “Tonio”. Photo, Ken Howard

A love triangle set during the California Gold Rush, Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West (La Fanciulla del West), returns home for the first time in three decades in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the opera’s premiere. Nicola Luisotti conducts a stellar cast led by Deborah Voigt, making her role debut as Minnie; Roberto Frontali as Sheriff Jack Rance; and Salvatore Licitra, who makes his Company debut as the bandit Dick Johnson.

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Girl of the Golden West, at the bar. Photo, Robert Millard

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DIE WALKÜRE. Photo, Karin Cooper

San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello directs the second installment of the Company’s Ring cycle, Die Walküre, in a new co-production with Washington National Opera. Donald Runnicles leads an all-star cast headed by Nina Stemme (who makes her role debut as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre), Eva-Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde (in her Company debut) and Christopher Ventris as Siegmund, with Mark Delavan returning as Wotan. This production of Die Walküre will be part of the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen—in addition to Das Rheingold, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung — presented in three complete cycles in June 2011.

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MATTHEW POLLENZANI – The Abduction from the Seraglio. Photo, Ken Howard

Other productions new to San Francisco Opera include Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio starring Mary Dunleavy, Matthew Polenzani, Peter Rose and Anna Christy in a charming co- production with Lyric Opera of Chicago directed by Chas Rader-Shieber and featuring the U.S. operatic debut of conductor Cornelius Meister (incoming San Francisco Opera Assistant Music Director Guiseppe Finzi conducts the final two performances).

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NADJA MICHAEL – as Salome. Photo, Clive Barda

Salome, Richard Strauss’ erotically charged opera adapted from Oscar Wilde’s scandalous play of the same name, stars German soprano Nadja Michael in her San Francisco Opera debut in the title role opposite returning artists Kim Begley (Herod) and Greer Grimsley (Jokanaan). Music director Nicola Luisotti leads this opera for the first time in a production directed by Seán Curran and James Robinson.

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JOHAN BOTHA – as Otello. Photo, Ken Howard

Otello, Verdi’s masterful adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy, features acclaimed South African tenor Johan Botha in his Company debut as the ill-fated Moor alongside Svetla Vassileva (Desdemona) and Marco Vratogna (Iago), also making his San Francisco Opera debut. Stefano Secco stars in his first fully-staged Company production in the title role of Gounod’s Faust opposite Patricia Racette (Marguerite) and John Relyea (Méphistophélès) in a production conducted by Maurizio Benini in his San Francisco Opera debut.

In November, the San Francisco Opera Center presents its resident young artists, the Adler
Fellows, in The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert. Accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the Adler Fellows will perform an array of opera scenes and arias at the Herbst Theatre.

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DIE WALKÜRE. Photo, Karin Cooper

Click here for ticket informtaion: SAN FRANCISCO OPERA 2009-10

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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”, 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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