IL TROVATORE – Opens SF Opera’s 87th Season, September 11th

Dmitiri Hvorostovsky to appear as “Count di Luna”
Nicola Luisotti debuts as new Music Director

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

David Gockley, San Francisco Opera’s General Director, launches the Company’s 87th season with Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the War Memorial Opera House. Opening on Friday, September 11th with seven additional performances running through October 6th, Verdi’s classic melodrama is filled with many of opera’s most recognizable melodies . Il Trovatore has been a staple of San Francisco Opera’s repertory for more than 80 years.

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David Gockley

Maestro Nicola Luisotti begins his inaugural season as the Company’s music director with Il Trovatore, featuring the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. An international cast of world renowned opera stars has been assembled for this season opening production, led by Italian tenor Marco Berti as “Manrico”, the troubador. Sondra Radvanovsky makes her San Francisco Opera debut as “Leonora”, and 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 Malgorzata Walewska, also making her San Francisco Opera debut. Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to the Company as “Count di Luna”, a role he shares with Quinn Kelsey in this visually striking production by David McVicar directed by Walter Sutcliffe.

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THE ANVIL CHORUS. Photo, Ken Howard
CHORUS: Chi del gitano i giorni abbella?
(Who cheers the gypsy’s days and raises up his spirits?)

Marco Berti (Manrico) made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2006 as “Don José” in Carmen Mr. Berti will sing Il Trovatore this season at the Metropolitan Opera. Returning to San Francisco Opera after recent critically acclaimed performances in the title role of 2008’s Simon Boccanegra, Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings the role of Manrico’s rival, the deceptive “Count di Luna”. Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey will take over the role in the final two performances, October 4th and 6th. Mr. Kelsey, a Merola Opera Program alumnus, made his San Francisco Opera debut as “Marcello” in last season’s production of La Boheme.

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DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY and MARCO BERTI

American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky appears as “Leonora”, lady-in-waiting to the Princess and object of desire for both Manrico and the Count. Radvanovsky has previously performed this role at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. “Azucena”, a Gypsy who has posed as Manrico’s mother, is sung by internationally acclaimed artist Stephanie Blythe. Voted Musical America’s 2009 Vocalist of the Year, Ms. Blythe has previously sung Azucena at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and recently made her San Francisco Opera debut in the Verdi Requiem. Polish mezzo-soprano Malgorzata Walewska appears as Azucena in two performances, a role she has performed with Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.

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SONDRA RADVANOVSKY and STEPHANIE BLYTHE

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NICOLA LUISOTTI and MALGORZATA WALEWSKA

Burak Bilgili makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Luna’s officer, “Ferrando”, a popular bass role he recently performed at the Metropolitan Opera and in Geneva. Appearing as Azucena’s friend “Inez” and Manrico’s accomplice “Ruiz” are San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Renée Tatum and Andrew Bidlack.

Among the most exciting recent directorial appointments in classical music is Maestro Nicola Luisotti. He begins his highly anticipated tenure as San Francisco Opera’s music director with Il Trovatore. Luisotti is the Company’s third music director and succeeds Sir John Pritchard and Donald Runnicles. Following in the footsteps of San Francisco Opera’s founder and first general director, Italian-born Gaetano Merola, Luisotti brings to the Company an innate command of the classic Italian operatic repertoire. In his inaugural season as San Francisco Opera’s music director, Maestro Luisotti conducts Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Otello, Giacomo Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West), and Richard Strauss’s Salome.

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IL TROVATORE. Photo, Robert Kusel

This production is large-scale and traditional. It is a San Francisco Opera co-production previously presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera. It is inspired by the haunting imagery of 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Originally directed by David McVicar, who made his San Francisco Opera debut with 2007’s Don Giovanni, this two-act revival is directed by British opera and theater director Walter Sutcliffe. The San Francisco Opera Chorus is directed by Ian Robertson.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of Il Trovatore are scheduled for September 11 (7 p.m.), September 16 (7:30 p.m.), September 19 (8 p.m.), September 22 (8 p.m.), September 25 (8 p.m.), October 1 (7:30 p.m.), October 4 (2 p.m.), and October 6 (7:30 p.m.) 2009. For more information: SF OPERA

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DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY and SONDRA RADVANOVSKY
Images, Ken Howard

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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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