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San Francisco Opera Announces 2021–22 Season

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The season kicks off with a performance of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca on Saturday, August 21.

San Francisco Opera Announces 2021–22 Season

San Francisco Opera announced today repertory, casting and reopening plans for its 99th season. Commencing with a performance of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca on Saturday, August 21, the 2021-22 Season marks the inauguration of Eun Sun Kim's tenure as Caroline H. Hume Music Director and a reemergence of opera at the War Memorial Opera House, which reopens with newly installed custom seats and accessibility enhancements. For this transitional year, the Company unveils three new productions: Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio and, continuing the Company's Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni. The new season also includes the return of Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber, a free Opera at the Ballpark simulcast, multiple concert programs and a new livestreaming option for select performances.

Kim's music directorship begins with Tosca, a masterpiece central to San Francisco Opera since it opened the War Memorial Opera House in 1932. Kim will also lead Live and In Concert: The Homecoming on September 10 and returns to the podium on October 14 to conduct a bold new production of Beethoven's ode to freedom Fidelio, along with the annual Adler Fellows concert, The Future Is Now, and a Summer 2022 tribute to the music of Giuseppe Verdi.

Eun Sun Kim said: "When I was appointed Music Director Designate in December 2019, it seemed certain that the time until I officially assumed the position would fly by. And then, of course, the whole world came to a standstill. I'm so proud of the way the entire San Francisco Opera family has worked to remain resilient during this time-we've created new ways to make music together and we've encouraged each other in strength. Now this steadfast faith will allow us to finally rejoin the audiences who have so patiently waited for our return to the War Memorial Opera House. I hope this is a joyful moment for our whole community, as we open this new chapter together with a sense of renewed hope and optimism."

After making "a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance" (San Francisco Chronicle) leading Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka in June 2019, Eun Sun Kim was appointed Music Director Designate in December 2019 in a move the New York Times called "pathbreaking." The Seoul, South Korea-born Kim will help shape San Francisco Opera's artistic vision as the Company heads into its second century. San Francisco Opera's first two general directors, Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler, both regularly conducted performances during the Company's first six decades. In 1985, Sir John Pritchard was appointed San Francisco Opera's first music director (1985-89). He was succeeded by Donald Runnicles (1992-2009) and Nicola Luisotti (2009-18). Kim is the fourth music director in the Company's 99-year history.

San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock said: "Opera gives us opportunities to gather and share in deep, collective, emotional expression. I have never felt more urgently the need for us to gather in this way. We need to be together again, and, on August 21, we will Raise the Curtain and do just that. But we are not returning unchanged. We emerge with a new music director in Eun Sun Kim! We emerge informed by the bold experiments of the last year, carrying them forward with our new livestreaming program. And we emerge with an even deeper understanding of the power of opera to connect us after the long winter of its absence.

"That all of our productions this season will be new or recently new to our stage is a testament to the local artisans who built them and to the local community which has supported this Company so magnificently during this year. We will return to the social history of the Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, be welcomed back into the light of liberation with Beethoven's Fidelio and enter into the great story of imperial China in Dream of the Red Chamber. But first we return to Tosca-the time-honored way that San Francisco Opera reopens, recommits to our community and reemerges with all of the thrilling energy of live grand opera. It is a moment I cannot wait to share."

San Francisco Opera's new season will be a transitional year, temporarily offering a reduction in the number of operas and performances to ensure a safe return to the stage. Rehearsals and performances for the three fall productions are scheduled in succession rather than overlapping as in a typical repertory season. This provision, along with other protocols, allows maximum flexibility as the Company and audiences navigate this early period of emergence from the pandemic shutdown. The summer of 2022 will bring the return of repertory presentations (multiple operas presented each week) and in 2022-23 the Company will celebrate its centennial with a full repertory season.

To ensure the health and safety of audiences, artists and employees, comprehensive front and back-of-house safety protocols-developed in partnership with a team of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) physicians led by epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford-will be in place.

During the initial return to the Opera House, inclusive of all Tosca performances, San Francisco Opera has enacted the following policies which the Company will continue to monitor and evolve. For complete details and updates, visit sfopera.com/safetyfirst.

  • Upon entry, patrons will be required to show proof of full vaccination (defined as two weeks after final shot) or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of performance or antigen test taken within 1 day of performance (paper or electronic/photo documentation), along with a photo ID.

  • All patrons-including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine-will be required to wear a face mask while attending performances.
  • Safety protocols include enhanced cleaning practices and availability of hand sanitizer stations throughout the building. Ventilation systems in the War Memorial Opera House meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. All front-of-house and backstage employees will follow rigorous safety protocols including a vaccination requirement.
  • The Box Office will seat one production at a time and use buffer seats (keeping one seat free between parties).

  • Tickets must be purchased in advance either by phone or online; at this time, tickets are not available for in-person purchase.

  • All ticket exchange fees are eliminated for the current season. Exchanges will be accepted up to two hours before the performance.

  • For a touchless experience, tickets will be delivered digitally (print-at-home and mobile). In lieu of printed program books, a digital program will be available.

  • The Opera is working with the War Memorial and Global Gourmet to offer concessions to patrons, including limited food and beverage service. Plans for pre-opera talks are being developed. More information will be available soon.

The completed final phase of the War Memorial Opera House seat replacement project, begun in 2013 with the Box and Balcony sections, will be unveiled when the house reopens. All seats within the Orchestra, Grand Tier and Dress Circle sections have been replaced, improving comfort and sightlines within the historic Beaux-Arts theater that serves as home to San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet. The completed project also includes new accessible seating areas, furthering the commitment of the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center and its two resident organizations to maximize accessibility for all patrons.

While preserving the historic integrity, beauty and acoustics of this cultural landmark, the new custom seats replace seats that were original to the 1932 building and introduce enhancements such as greater leg room and the latest in ergonomic support. For more information, visit sfopera.com/seatupgrade.

On Friday, September 10, opera lovers, baseball fans and tens of thousands of Bay Area citizens will have the opportunity to celebrate Eun Sun Kim's arrival as music director together in Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. In partnership with the Giants, Live and In Concert: The Homecoming will be simulcast live from the Opera House to the ballpark's 71-foot high x 153-foot wide videoboard as the Company's 13th free Opera at the Ballpark. The Bay Area community is invited to experience this beginning to an exciting new chapter for opera in San Francisco while seated on the baseball field or in the stands at this beloved al fresco event. Registration will open later this summer. For more information, visit sfopera.com/ballpark.

Along with returning to the War Memorial stage, the Opera will share two of its fall productions from Eun Sun Kim's inaugural season beyond the walls of the Opera House. Offered for the first time in Company history, a livestream option for select performances will enable audiences to experience San Francisco Opera from anywhere in the world. Virtual tickets are available for $25 to livestream the following performances: Fidelio on October 14, 17 and 20; and Così fan tutte on November 21, 23 and 27. For more information, visit sfopera.com/online.


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