San Francisco Opera to Present Handel's PARTENOPE, 10/16-11/2
San Francisco Opera presents the Company premiere of George Frideric Handel's comedy Partenope in six performances October 15-November 2, 2014 at the War Memorial Opera House. Winner of London's 2009 Olivier Award for "Best New Production," this production is directed by Christopher Alden with sets designed by Andrew Lieberman. Set in 1920s Paris, the production's surrealist aesthetic is inspired by the artwork of Dadaist Man Ray. Lyric soprano and baroque specialist Danielle de Niese stars in the title role opposite leading countertenor David Daniels, who thrilled audiences in 2011's Xerxes, as her suitor Arsace. Argentinean mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack is the crafty Rosmira, Arsace's scorned lover who attempts to use a cross-dressing disguise to enact her revenge. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo makes his Company debut as another of Partenope's admirers, Armindo, and tenor Alek Shrader is Emilio. Grammy-nominated American conductor Julian Wachner makes his San Francisco Opera debut with these performances.
"One of the most sought-after singers on the planet (BBC Radio)," soprano Danielle de Niese returns to San Francisco in the title role of Partenope following her impressive Company debut as Susannah in the 2010 production of Le Nozze di Figaro. Renowned around the globe for her portrayals of Handel's leading women, such as Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare in Egitto), Galatea (Acis e Galatea), Atalanta (Xerxes) and the title role of Rodelinda, de Niese makes her role debut as the glamorous Queen of Naples in this production.
American countertenor David Daniels, who thrilled San Francisco audiences most recently as Arsamenes in the Company's 2011 production of Handel's Xerxes, returns as Partenope's suitor Arsace. A famed interpreter of numerous Handel operas, Daniels' career spans many performances of the title roles of Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Radamisto, Rinaldo, and as Ottone in Agrippina. Among his recent Baroque performances, Daniels sang with a "transfixing blend of melting sound and forceful delivery" (New York Times) in the Metropolitan Opera's inventive pastiche The Enchanted Island. Daniels, who counts Arsace as among his favorite roles to perform, has previously portrayed the clever prince at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Vienna's Theater an der Wien and with Glimmerglass Opera.
Argentinean mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack-a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow-returns to the company as Rosmira. Acclaimed for her many operatic "pants roles" (roles in which a female singer portrays a young man), Mack has appeared as Idamante (Idomeneo) and Siebel (Faust) at San Francisco Opera, as Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro) at Opera Omaha and the Verbier Festival, and as Sesto (Giulio Cesare in Egitto) at English National Opera. In her role debut as Rosmira, the mezzo-soprano portrays a young woman who attempts to pass as a man by dressing in men's clothing, but whose true identity is ultimately humorously revealed. Daniela Mack's most recent San Francisco Opera performance was as Rosina in last season's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and this past summer she makes her role debut in the title role of Carmen at Santa Fe Opera.
American countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Armindo, a role he has previously performed at New York City Opera. Costanzo has debuted numerous Handel roles in recent seasons, including Unulfo (Rodelinda) at the Metropolitan Opera, Eustazio (Rinaldo) at the Glyndebourne Festival, Ottone (Agrippina) at Boston Lyric Opera, Tolomeo (Giulio Cesare in Egitto) with Michigan Opera Theater and the title role of Tolomeo, Re d'Egitto at Glimmerglass. Opera News wrote of that performance: "Costanzo possesses a distinctive countertenor of strength, clarity, facility and beauty, but he is also a marvelous actor." Last season the countertenor made his debut as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera, and this winter he will sing the voice of Apollo in Britten's Death in Venice at Madrid's Teatro Real.
American tenor and former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Alek Shrader makes his role debut as yet another of Partenope's suitors, Emilio. Shrader, who is married to Daniela Mack, most recently appeared at San Francisco Opera in Il Barbiere di Siviglia as Count Amalviva, opposite Mack as Rosina. Recent career highlights have included Count Amalviva at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte at the Metropolitan Opera, and Ernesto in Don Pasquale at Santa Fe Opera; next summer he returns to that company to sing his first appearance as Tonio in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment. In 2013 Alek Shrader received his first Grammy Award for the Metropolitan Opera's recording of Thomas Adés' The Tempest.
Conductor Julian Wachner is director of music and the arts at New York City's Trinity Wall Street, where he serves as principal conductor of NOVUS NY, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, which was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Handel's Israel in Egypt. A Baroque specialist, Wachner was the founding music director of the Boston Bach Ensemble and the Bach Académie de Montréal, besides serving as artistic director of International Bach Festivals in Boston and Montreal.
Director Christopher Alden's Olivier Award-winning production updates Handel's 1730 opera from ancient Naples to glamorous 1920s Paris. The complex and sometimes absurd plot of love and deception seamlessly fits into a community influenced by artists and Dadaists. Andrew Lieberman's dramatic sets place Partenope in a lavish and striking mansion, and Jon Morrell's costumes are directly inspired by iconic surrealist photographs of the period. This production debuted in 2008 at English National Opera and has subsequently been presented by Opera Australia in Melbourne and Sydney.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six performances of Partenope are scheduled for October 15 (7:30 p.m.), October 18 (7:30 p.m.), October 21 (7:30 p.m.), October 24 (7:30 p.m.), October 30 (7:30 p.m.), and November 2 (2 p.m.), 2014.