PARTENOPE Comes to San Francisco Opera This June

Performances begin June 15.

By: May. 10, 2024
PARTENOPE Comes to San Francisco Opera This June
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San Francisco Opera’s 2024 Summer Season will continue June 15 with George Frideric Handel’s Partenope in director Christopher Alden’s award-winning production. Last seen on the War Memorial Opera House stage in 2014, this witty and sexy staging of Handel’s 1730 romantic comedy updates the opera’s setting from the mythical founding of Naples to a 1920s Parisian salon. Christopher Moulds conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and an international cast of Handelians including three making house debuts and three returning San Francisco Opera artists.

The Company premiere of Alden’s vision for Partenope was a critical and popular hit in 2014. The San Francisco Chronicle declared, “The continuing integration of Handel’s work into the mainstream of operatic life remains one of the great success stories of the past decades. A production like this one, blending musical seriousness with theatrical panache, can only help matters further.” The Mercury News said Alden’s staging “turns the opera’s gender-bending plot into a nonstop parade of visual and vocal delights.”

Christopher Alden’s work with San Francisco Opera extends back 50 years when he directed the affiliate company Western Opera Theater’s 1974 touring production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann. He has returned on many occasions to direct a wide repertoire including the Company premiere of Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani and his Olivier Award-winning production of Partenope. This revival of Partenope, assisted by associate director Roy Rallo, features the work of creative team collaborators set designer Andrew Lieberman, costume designer Jon Morrell, original lighting designer Adam Silverman relit this season by Gary Marder and choreographer Colm Seery.

French soprano Julie Fuchs makes her American debut in the title role of Partenope, the first queen of Naples who is here reimagined as a magnetic salon hostess whose gatherings are frequented by social elites and Surrealist artists. A fast-rising operatic star, Fuchs’ recent engagements included Gilda in Verdi’sRigoletto in Madrid, Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in Paris, Poppea in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea in Barcelona and Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette in Zurich. She is a featured recording artist with releases on the Pentatone, Palazetto Bru-Zane, Deutsche Gramophone and Sony labels. Her most recent album, Amadè, showcases favorite arias and rarely heard music of the young Mozart.

In his US stage debut, Carlo Vistoli joins the Company as Arsace, a suitor of Partenope who is himself pursued by an old flame. Vistoli first drew attention as a member of Le Jardin des Voix, the young artists affiliate of esteemed early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants, and he has emerged as one of the leading Italian countertenors of his generation. Vistoli has won acclaim throughout Europe and Australia with his “rounded, resonant Italianate sound and elegant phrasing” (Parterre) in the works of Gluck, Cavalli, Mozart and especially Handel.

Making his Company debut as Armindo, another besotted suitor of Partenope, is American countertenor Nicholas Tamagna. Praised for his portrayal of the Refugee in Jonathan Dove’s 1998 opera, Flight, Tamagna has also won considerable praise in the Baroque repertoire. Of his performance as the title role of Handel’s Giustino, the Sydney Morning Herald said he “sang with a tone of purity, strength and smoothness, unblemished by mannerism or the slightest hint of stridency.”

Argentinian mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack scored a triumph last summer as Frida Kahlo in the Company premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s El último sueño de Frida y Diego. This summer she reprises the role of Rosmira, the estranged lover of Arsace who appears in disguise to win him back. The San Francisco Chronicle praised her Rosmira in 2014 as “delivering athletic, perfectly tuned coloratura and letting the audience feel viscerally the depth of the characters’ ardor and pain.”

Emilio, the military general who courts Partenope and who is presented in this staging as an avatar of Surrealist photographer Man Ray, is performed by American tenor Alek Shrader. Hailed as “a vocal dynamo” (San Francisco Chronicle) as Emilio in 2014, Shrader returns to the high-flying part this season.

The role of Ormonte is performed by baritone Hadleigh Adams who, like Mack and Shrader, is a graduate of the Merola Opera Program and a former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. Adams has appeared in a wide repertoire with San Francisco Opera, including works by Britten, Offenbach, Poulenc, Puccini, Rossini, Verdi and in the world premieres of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (2013), Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne (2013) and John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra (2022).

Christopher Moulds is an early music expert known for his interpretations of the operas of Monteverdi, Cavalli, Purcell, Handel and Mozart. Maestro Moulds made his Company debut in 2019 conducting Handel’s Orlando for which Opera (UK) said he “led a supple and nuanced performance by the orchestra.”

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the five performances of Partenope are scheduled for June 15 (7:30 p.m.), 19 (7:30 p.m.), 23 (2 p.m.), 25 (7:30 p.m.), 28 (7:30 p.m.), 2024, and are presented in repertory with Mozart’s The Magic Flute (May 30–June 30) and the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence(June 1–21).



Comments

Philoctetes on 5/10/2024

Stonking splendid production of this Opera.




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