David Gockley continues building American operatic repertoire
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and Music Director Donald Runnicles have announced the Company’s 86th season, beginning September 5th, 2008 and running through July 5, 2009. There will be 78 performances of eleven operas, beginning with Verdi’s SIMON BOCCANEGRAT. The season continues with the world premiere of Stewart Wallace’s THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER with libretto by renowned Bay Area author Amy Tan; Korngold’s DIE TOTE STADT; Mozart’s IDOMENEO; Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV (1869 version); Donizetti’s THE ELIXIR OF LOVE; Jake Heggie’s ,THREE DECEMBERS (LAST ACTS) Gershwin’s PORGY AND BESS; Verdi’s LA TRAVIATA; and, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Puccini’s birth, LA BOHÈME and TOSCA.
ANNA NETREBKO, Soprano & DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY, Baritone
Of the season’s eleven productions, seven are new to San Francisco audiences. SIMON BOCCANEGRA, DIE TOTE STADT, IDOMENEO and LA TRAVIATA will be conducted by Maestro Donald Runnicles, who is honored this season for his extraordinary contributions as music director and principal conductor since 1992. Music Director Designate Nicola Luisotti will conduct LA BOHÈME. Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello will direct the Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS.
AMY TAN, Author & ZHENG CAO, Mezzo-soprano – THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER
David Gockley continues his commitment to developing a vital American operatic repertoire and building new audiences with the world premiere of Wallace and Tan’s THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER; the West Coast premiere of Heggie’s THREE DECEMBERS; continued local, national and international radio broadcasts; and nationwide showings of opera in movie theaters in a high quality digital cinema format. This season the Company introduces new initiatives to build audiences within the opera house, including new lower-priced subscription and single tickets designed to increase accessibility and affordability.
The 2008–09 Season includes a distinguished roster of internationally renowned singers, directors, designers and conductors. SIMON BOCCANEGRA opens the season with Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the title role opposite Barbara Frittoli and Tamar Iveri, both making Company debuts. Chinese-born artists Zheng Cao, Ning Liang and Qian Yi are among many featured in the world premiere of Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan’s THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER.
PORGY AND BESS. Photo by Karin Cooper
Emily Magee and Torsten Kerl make their Company debuts in the critically acclaimed Willy Decker production of Korngold’s DIE TOTE STADT. Kurt Streit sings the title role of IDOMENEO opposite Alice Coote, with Genia Kühmeier and Iano Tamar. San Francisco Opera presents the original 1869 seven-scene version of Mussorgsky’s BORIS GODUNOV with Samuel Ramey in the title role; the cast also includes Vitalij Kowaljow and Vladimir Ognovenko. Ramón Vargas returns to San Francisco in THE ELIXIR OF LOVE opposite Inva Mula; the production also features Alessandro Corbelli and Giorgio Caoduro in a newly adapted production set in the Napa Valley. LA BOHÈME showcases Angela Gheorghiu in one of her signature roles, Mimì, and Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo; Maija Kovalevska and Joseph Calleja make their Company debuts as Mimì and Rodolfo in three performances. Frederica von Stade sings in Jake Heggie’s THREE DECEMBERS. Adrianne Pieczonka and Lado Ataneli both make their Company debuts in Lotfi Mansouri’s staging of TOSCA, which also features Roberto Aronica. Francesca Zambello’s grand opera–scaled production of the Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS appears in Summer 2009. Marta Domingo’s Jazz Age production of LA TRAVIATA features MUSICAL AMERICA’S 2008 “Musician of the Year” Anna Netrebko with Charles Castronovo and Dwayne Croft. Special concerts with Angela Gheorghiu and Salvatore Licitra will also be presented during the 2008–09 Season in partnership with Cal Performances.
THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER, a co-commission with the Dallas Opera, will receive its world premiere on September 13, 2008. The opera features Chinese-born artists Zheng Cao, Ning Liang, Qian Yi, Hao Jiang Tian and Wu Tong. Chen Shi-Zheng, well known for his historic 1998 Lincoln Center Festival production of THE PEONY PAVILION directs the production with sets by Walt Spangler, video images by artist Leigh Haas, costumes by renowned fashion designer Han Feng, lighting by Scott Zielinski and a company of Chinese acrobatic dancers who flip, fly and create emotional tension through physical action. THE BONESETTER’S DAUGHTER will be sung in English.
SAMUEL RAMEY – as Boris Gudonov. Photo by Ted Washington
San Francisco Opera continues its partnership with Cal Performances with a presentation of the West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie’s THREE DECEMBERS at Zellerbach Hall on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Created especially for mezzo-soprano and Bay Area favorite Frederica von Stade, THREE DECEMBERS was written with librettist Gene Scheer and based on an original play by Terrence McNally. Set in San Francisco and New York, it follows the stormy relationships of a famous stage actress and her two adult children over the course of three decades as they struggle to love themselves and one another. THREE DECEMBERS is a co-commission among Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances, and the work will have its world premiere on February 29, 2008 in Houston.
HONORING MAESTRO RUNNICLES
At the close of the 2008–09 Season, Maestro Donald Runnicles concludes his remarkable tenure as San Francisco Opera’s music director and principal conductor. To salute the Maestro, a special concert of Verdi’s Requiem is planned for May 29, 2009 featuring the San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra; further details and ticket information will be announced at a later date. Although Maestro Runnicles goes on to new posts in Germany and Scotland, he will continue to be a part of San Francisco Opera’s musical life, conducting a new production of Britten’s PETER GRIMES in the 2009–10 Season and leading the Company’s new RING Cycle, which begins with DAS RHEINGOLD in June of 2008.
BUILDING NEW AUDIENCES
A commitment to building new audiences has been a hallmark of David Gockley’s tenure as general director, and San Francisco Opera is now recognized as an industry leader in this area. The very first opera presented under Mr. Gockley’s leadership – MADAMA BUTTERFLY on May 27, 2006 – was simulcast live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to an audience of approximately 8,000 on San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. Since then San Francisco Opera has offered three additional free public simulcasts, including the most recent simulcast of SAMSON & DELILAH to an audience of 15,000 at AT&T Park; launched the Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition, broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house; introduced OperaVision, a system of high-definition video screens offering balcony areas a close-up view of the stage; initiated regular local, national and international radio broadcasts for the first time in 25 years through its partnerships with Classical 102.1 KDFC, the WMFT Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio; and announced a landmark new worldwide digital cinema agreement that will put San Francisco Opera performances into movie theaters in the highest quality digital cinema format.
Next season, the Company expands upon these efforts to include initiatives designed to build audiences and increase accessibility within the opera house. San Francisco Opera has significantly lowered the price of nearly 200 seats in the side orchestra section (from $150/$175 to $80/$100) and has instituted 20% to 30% discounts on full and half series subscription purchases in many sections throughout the opera house. The initiatives are designed to make opera tickets and subscriptions more accessible and affordable for first-time purchasers and to reward patrons willing to invest in the Company through the purchase of subscription packages rather than single tickets. San Francisco Opera’s lowest price ticket remains steady at $15 and $20 (weekday/weekend) per ticket for the Balcony Side section; prices for standing room ($10), student rush ($25) and senior and military rush ($30) also remain steady with no increase.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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