San Francisco Opera to Open 93rd Season This Fall with Gala Performance of LUISA MILLER
San Francisco Opera celebrates the opening of its 93rd Season on Friday, September 11, 2015 with a gala performance of Verdi's Luisa Miller, conducted by Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti and featuring an international cast, led by soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor Michael Fabiano and baritone Vitaliy Bilyy.
The opening night festivities include Opera Ball 2015: Moonlight & Music, a benefit supporting the education programs of San Francisco Opera Guild and San Francisco Opera, and BRAVO! CLUB's Opening Night Gala. Saturday, September 12 marks the Company debut of Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Concluding the opening weekend of the 2015-16 Season is one of the Bay Area's most popular musical events--San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park, San Francisco Opera's annual free concert in Golden Gate Park on Sunday, September 13. It features a starry roster that includes Leah Crocetto, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beczala and Michael Fabiano.
Giuseppe Verdi's Luisa Miller / September 11-27
The Fall 2015 Season opens with Giuseppe Verdi's tragic opera of troubled love amidst political corruption, Luisa Miller. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast headlined by a trio of opera's most promising young singers: American soprano Leah Crocetto as Luisa Miller, American tenor Michael Fabiano as her beloved Rodolfo and Ukrainian baritone Vitaliy Bilyy as Luisa's father. Crocetto, "a major operatic star" (San Francisco Chronicle), and Fabiano, who sings with "stunning emotional power" (San Jose Mercury News), both triumphantly appeared in the Company's 2014 production of La Bohème. Bilyy, who has performed the same role at Milan's famed Teatro alla Scala, will be making his San Francisco Opera debut, as well as Polish bass Rafa? Siwek who will sing the role of Count Walter and Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk who will play the widowed duchess Frederica. As Wurm, one of Verdi's most memorable villains, will be San Francisco Opera veteran and bass Andrea Silvestrelli. Absent from the War Memorial Opera House stage for 15 years, Verdi's masterful tale of passion and intrigue is presented in Francesca Zambello's bold San Francisco Opera production, designed by Michael Yeargan and directed by Laurie Feldman.
Opera Ball 2015: Moonlight & Music / Friday, September 11
Produced by San Francisco Opera Guild and led by co-chairmen Karen Kubin and Jane Mudge, Opera Ball 2015 will celebrate General Director David Gockley's final season in a new venue this year with the creation of a tented Opera Ball Pavilion on Grove Street between the War Memorial Opera House and Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.
Designer J. Riccardo Benavides will create an evocative 18th-century Tyrolean setting for the 850 Opera Ball patrons beginning at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception in the War Memorial Opera House foyer. At 6 p.m., guests will make the short promenade through the Opera House south porte-cochère to the Grove Street Opera Ball Pavilion for an elegant dinner designed by Executive Chef Josip Martinovic of McCalls Catering & Events. Following dinner, patrons will return to the Opera House in time for the 8 p.m. season-opening performance of Verdi's Luisa Miller.
At the conclusion of the performance, opera ball guests will be welcomed back to the pavilion for cocktails, savories, sweets and dancing to the New York City-based high society band, The Bob Hardwick Sound. Proceeds from this signature fundraising event support San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild's award-winning education and community programs throughout the Bay Area.
BRAVO! CLUB's Opening Night Gala / Friday, September 11
BRAVO! CLUB, San Francisco Opera's group of young professionals dedicated to building a new audience for opera, presents its 24th annual opening night gala on Friday, September 11, co-chaired by Laurie Diab and Shannon Eliot. BRAVO! CLUB begins the evening at 6:30 p.m. with a champagne promenade reception on the Outdoor Loggia of the War Memorial Opera House followed by the opening night performance of Verdi's Luisa Miller. The post-performance festivities will continue with dessert, hors d'oeuvres and dancing at Jardinière restaurant.
Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street / September 12-29
Stephen Sondheim's macabre musical thriller is presented for the first time by San Francisco Opera in a production featuring a cast of notable operatic stars and performed with Sondheim's original score for the lyric stage (orchestration by Jonathan Tunick). Baritone Brian Mulligan and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe take on the respective roles of the tortured barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful meat-pie shop proprietor Mrs. Lovett for the first time. Boasting unforgettable tunes spanning from the darkly humorous "A Little Priest" to the hopeful and romantic "Johanna," Sweeney Todd features a "highly charged, arrestingly detailed score" (The New York Times), comprised of a seemingly endless string of hits highlighting every cast member. Led by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers (James Lowe conducts the final performance on September 29), the ensemble also features Heidi Stober as Johanna, Elizabeth Futral as the Beggar Woman, Elliot Madore as Anthony, Matthew Grills as Tobias and Wayne Tigges as the despicable Judge Turpin. This "brilliant" (The New York Times) production, which premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 2011, is directed by Lee Blakeley and designed by Tanya McCallin.
San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park / Sunday, September 13
San Francisco Opera's 2015-16 Season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park, a free concert in Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadow on Sunday, September 13 at 1:30 p.m. A beloved San Francisco tradition, this year's concert celebrates San Francisco Opera's 93rd Season and features stars from the Company's Fall Season performing favorite arias al fresco, accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti. Singers include Leah Crocetto, Diana Damrau, Heidi Stober, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Piotr Beczala, Michael Fabiano and Elliot Madore. David Gockley, General Director of San Francisco Opera, will serve as master of ceremonies. Bring a picnic and enjoy this outdoor event; food and beverages will also be for sale at the event.
The season continues with Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (October 8-28), Mozart's The Magic Flute (October 20-November 20), Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (November 18-December 6), Rossini's The Barber of Seville (November 25-December 9), the Gordon Getty and Claude Debussy double bill The Fall of the House of Usher (December 8-13), Bizet's Carmen (May 27-July 3), Verdi's Don Carlo (June 12-29) and Janá?ek's Jen?fa (June 14-July 1).
Single tickets for Luisa Miller (not including Opera Ball 2015 gala) and Sweeney Todd are priced from $26 to $381 (subject to change) and may be purchased at sfopera.com or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue or by phone at (415) 864-3330. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only.
The September 13 San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park concert is free and open to the public; no tickets required. Visit sfopera.com/park for more information.
Tickets for Opera Ball 2015: Moonlight & Music, which do not include performance tickets, are priced at $1,500, $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000. For tickets and information, visit sfopera.com/operaball2015 or call (415) 565-3204.
Tickets for BRAVO! CLUB'S Opening Night Gala, which include performance tickets, are priced from $250 to $425; tickets for only the performance and the after party are priced at $195. For tickets and information, visit sfopera.com/bravo. A BRAVO! CLUB membership fee of $60 is required to attend the Opening Night Gala.
Photo Credit: Ken Howard/Santa Fe Opera