LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST – Opens June 9th at San Francisco Opera

Dazzling soprano Deborah Voigt is Puccini’s sharp-shooting diva of the Golden West

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Opera presents Giacomo Puccini’s LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (The Girl of the Golden West) in celebration of its 100th anniversary June 9th –July 2nd at the War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley has assembled a cast of the world’s leading singers including soprano Deborah Voigt in her debut as “Minnie”; the SF Opera debut of tenor Salvatore Licitra in his role debut as the bandit “Dick Johnson”; and baritone Roberto Frontali as “Sheriff Jack Rance”. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti. Stage direction is by Lorenzo Mariani, artistic director of Teatro Massimo. La Fanciulla del West is a co-production with Italy’s FondazioneTeatro Massimo di Palermo and Belgium’s Opéra Royal de Wallonie.
Click here to purchase tickets on-line: GTGW

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Deborah Voigt as “Minnie”
Salvatore Licitra as “Dick Johnson”

One of today’s foremost dramatic sopranos, Deborah Voigt has appeared in ten previous San Francisco Opera productions, most recently in 2006 as Amelia Anckarström in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. A former Adler Fellow and Merola Opera Program alumna, Voigt’s other leading roles with the Company include Anna in Verdi’s Nabucco, Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäuser, the title role of Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, and Sieglinde in Wagner’s Die Walküre. Voigt will reprise the role of the saloon-keeper Minnie next season at the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Acclaimed Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra makes his San Francisco Opera debut appearing as the bandit Dick Johnson (aka, Ramerrez).  Known for his interpretation of the classic dramatic Italian repertoire, Licitra frequently appears in Europe and the United States as Radamès in Verdi’s Aida and Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca. He recently made his role debut as Calaf in Puccini’s Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera. Baritone Roberto Frontali singing Sheriff Jack Rance, made his San Francisco Opera debut as Riccardo in Bellini’s I Puritani in 1993. One of the leading Verdian baritones of his generation, Frontali has appeared around the world in the title roles of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Rigoletto and Nabucco. Salvatore Licitra and Roberto Frontali will reprise their roles at Teatro Massimo di Palermo in December.

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Roberto Frontali as “Sheriff Jack Rance”
Steven Cole as “Nick”

Tenor Steven Cole, who made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1980 as Monostatos in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, appears as Nick, the bartender of the Polka Saloon. Cole has previously appeared with the company as Goro in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, the Simpleton in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, and most recently as Sellem in the 2007 production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. Baritone Timothy Mix makes his San Francisco Opera debut in this production as the miner Sonora. He will return to the company as Le Bret in this fall’s presentation of Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Appearing as Ashby, a Wells Fargo Agent, Kevin Langan has been performing with San Francisco Opera for 30 years, appearing in more than 40 Company productions in roles such as Timur (Turandot), Colline (La Bohème), Ramfis (Aïda), and Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte).

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Timothy Mix as “Sonora”
Kevin Langan as “Ashby”

San Francisco Opera is the first North American opera company to present La Fanciulla del West in its centennial year. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti will be on the podium for the seven June 2010 performances, and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi will conduct the final July 2nd performance. Maestro Nicola Luisotti will also conduct the work this fall at the Metropolitan Opera, including a performance on December 10th —the exact centennial of the day the work received its world premiere at the Met, conducted by the legendary Arturo Toscanini.

San Francisco Opera’s new production of La Fanciulla del West marks the first collaboration between the Company and Palermo’s Teatro Massimo. Lorenzo Mariani, who directs this new production both in its San Francisco premiere and December 2010 performances in Palermo, serves as artistic director of Teatro Massimo. Scenic designer Maurizio Balò, a frequent collaborator with Mariani, has previously designed opera sets and costumes for numerous productions at Milan’s La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera as well as for theaters in Bologna, Zurich and Genoa. Costume designer Gabriel Berry has previously created costumes for San Francisco Opera productions of Harvey Milk by Stewart Wallace and Appomattox by Philip Glass, and lighting designer Duane Schuler has previously worked with San Francisco Opera on ten operas, most recently last season’s production of Verdi’s Otello.

A love triangle set during the California Gold Rush, the work Puccini considered “the best of my operas” returns to San Francisco for the first time in three decades in celebration of its centenary. Based on the play The Girl of the Golden West by San Francisco native David Belasco, the libretto for Puccini’s opera was written by Guelfo Civinini and Carol Zangarini. The son of a miner and the author of the play that inspired another of Puccini’s most popular operas (Madama Butterfly), Belasco captures the spirit of Gold Rush–era California complete with a Wild-West saloon, a high-stakes poker game, a Wells Fargo agent, and a voluptuous heroine: Minnie. A trigger-happy barkeep.
 
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of La Fanciulla del West are scheduled for June 9 (7:30 p.m.), June 12 (8 p.m.), June 15 (8 p.m.), June 18 (8 p.m.), June 24 (7:30 p.m.), June 27 (2 p.m.), June 29 (7:30 p.m.) and July 2 (8 p.m., conducted by Giuseppe Finzi).

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Set design, Maurizio Balò
Act III set model, La Fancuilla del West

Click here to order tickets on-line: Girl of the Golden West

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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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