San Francisco Opera Announces 2024–25 Season Including CARMEN, LA BOHÈME and More

102nd season opening weekend kicks off September 6 with Opera Ball and Un Ballo in Maschera; Free Opera in the Park concert September 8.

By: Feb. 20, 2024
San Francisco Opera Announces 2024–25 Season Including CARMEN, LA BOHÈME and More
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San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock and Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim has announced details for the Company's 102nd season. A weekend of festivities opens the new season from September 6–8 with Opera Ball, Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (The Masked Ball) and the free annual Opera in the Park concert held in Golden Gate Park.

The 2024–25 Season includes six mainstage opera productions along with concert presentations including a one-night-only performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on October 26, honoring the work's 200th anniversary and, in the summer of 2025, a special Pride Concert celebrating San Francisco's LGBTQIA+ community.

Matthew Shilvock said: “San Francisco Opera continues its second century with a season that demonstrates the potential of opera to connect to the most fundamental aspects of our humanity, whether through works of searing contemporary resonance like The Handmaid's Tale or profound archetypes like Tristan and Idomeneo. We launch the 102nd season at a time of tremendous creativity in which new audiences are connecting with opera as never before but also at a challenging time in which the fundamental fiscal model of the arts is being stretched to its limits. We must harness the incredible energy of this moment and keep this amazing opera company moving forward, but at the same time, we must scale ourselves appropriately to our revenues. San Francisco Opera is a place where the leading artists of our time are eager to do their best work and audiences come to find community, inspiration, joy and catharsis. The art form of opera has evolved over four centuries, and I am very optimistic for how it will continue to evolve into a new chapter here in the Bay Area, one of the most creatively vibrant regions in the world.”

San Francisco Opera's 2024–25 Season features Eun Sun Kim's initiative to conduct an opera by Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner in San Francisco each season. Born in the same year (1813) amid divergent cultural circumstances, Verdi and Wagner expanded the expressive possibilities of opera in new directions and their revolutionary ideas continue to captivate the public's imagination and inspire ever-evolving creative directions. Kim's exploration of the operas of these composers began in 2022 with Verdi's La Traviata and continued in 2023 with Il Trovatore and Wagner's Lohengrin. This season, Kim brings the Company and audiences into the worlds of UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Verdi's 1859 drama of passion and treachery, and TRISTAN AND ISOLDE, Wagner's epic romance, also written in 1859, which changed the course of artistic history. Each work will be presented in a new-to-San Francisco Opera production.

On October 26, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony comes to San Francisco Opera for the first time in Company history with Kim leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and vocal soloists. Following this summer's production of The Magic Flute, Kim returns to the music of Mozart in Summer 2025 to lead the composer's rarely performed IDOMENEO.

Eun Sun Kim said: "Three of the greatest masterpieces in music history form the core of our fall season, including the addition of a symphony—and what a symphony! After the 1824 premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, composers were greatly influenced by this revolutionary work. Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde impacted the musical world with similar power after the famous ‘Tristan Chord' was heard for the first time. Tristan not only showcases the pinnacle of German Romanticism, but Wagner at his finest. The legacy of Beethoven is also evident in Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera where we are overwhelmed by an enormous wealth of melodies, a distillation of the drama and an economy of means that only the best composers can master. Then, in 2025, we revisit the foundation of these revolutionary masterpieces with Idomeneo. In this piece, Mozart sought to explore and transcend boundaries, creating a new foundation upon which future generations would build.”

The Company continues its commitment to telling stories that reflect on current issues with the West Coast premiere of THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Based on Margaret Atwood's novel about a dystopian American future, this incisive work by composer Poul Ruders and librettist Paul Bentley is among the most critically acclaimed operas of the past three decades. The new co-production with The Royal Danish Theatre will be presented in September and October 2024.

Georges Bizet's CARMEN and Giacomo Puccini's LA BOHÈME return with international casts headed by fast-rising talents making their American and house debuts alongside Company favorites in opera's greatest roles.

San Francisco Opera announces a new commission, THE MONKEY KING (美猴王), by composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang. Scheduled for its world premiere in the fall of 2025, and commissioned in partnership with the Chinese Heritage Foundation of Minnesota who also supported the commission of Dream of the Red Chamber, The Monkey King is drawn from an episode in Journey to the West, the Ming dynasty novel that is widely considered one China's four greatest literary classics and follows the ambition of its title character who wreaks havoc on the heavens in a bid for immortality. This new opera from the composer of the acclaimed oratorio Angel Island (2021) and recent operatic collaboration with playwright Hwang on M. Butterfly (2022), will be directed by American Repertory Theater's Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus with scenic design and puppetry by Basil Twist whose magical creations include My Neighbor Totoro. The Monkey King, an opera performed in Chinese and English, builds on the Company's engagement with China's literary tradition, which began in 2016 with Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber, a work that was performed in Hong Kong and mainland China and, in 2022, was revived by San Francisco Opera.

2024–25 SEASON

UN BALLO IN MASCHERA by Giuseppe Verdi

September 6–27, 2024

San Francisco Opera Music Director Eun Sun Kim pursues her journey into the works of Verdi with UN BALLO IN MASCHERA.

From its premiere in 1859—the peak of Verdi's prolific “middle period” when he was producing insightful works with astonishing regularity—Un Ballo in Maschera emerged as one of the composer's most tightly constructed stage works. The score, which opens with a simple four-note motive that develops into a complex musical tapestry of light and dark, drives this fast-paced tale of political betrayal, hidden agendas and forbidden passions. Under Kim's leadership, noted for bringing to Verdi “tonal muscle and stylistic variety” (San Francisco Chronicle), Un Ballo in Maschera comes to the War Memorial Opera House in director Leo Muscato's staging from the Rome Opera. The production showcases the work of set designer Federica Parolini, costume designer Silvia Aymonino and lighting designer Alessandro Verazzi.

The international cast is headed by American tenor Michael Fabiano as Gustav III (Riccardo), the carefree Swedish king whose historic assassination at a masked ball inspired the opera's story. Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian returns to the Company as Amelia who is caught in a deadly love triangle. Amartuvshin Enkhbat, the emerging star baritone from Mongolia, makes his Company debut as Renato, the King's counsellor who becomes his enemy. Hailed as “one of the most noteworthy US debuts in the recent years” (Parterre Box) in the Company's Lohengrin last fall, Romanian mezzo-soprano Judit Kutasi returns as the fortune teller, Ulrica. Chinese soprano Meigui Zhang makes her role debut as Oscar, the King's confidant who brings sparkle to the opera with her high-flying coloratura.

OPERA BALL

Friday, September 6, 2024 at 5 p.m.

San Francisco Opera's opening night celebration, co-presented with San Francisco Opera Guild, is one of the premier events on the Bay Area's philanthropic calendar. The annual fundraiser begins with a cocktail reception and sumptuous dinner at City Hall. Guests then proceed to the Opera House where the curtain rises on the new season with Music Director Eun Sun Kim leading Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera. Dancing and late-night bites await back at City Hall after the opera.

OPERA IN THE PARK

Sunday, September 8, 2024 at 1:30 p.m.

The opening weekend culminates with Opera in the Park, the annual free concert at Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Eun Sun Kim conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and artists from the 2024 Fall Season in a program of arias, ensembles and orchestral music. Bring your picnic baskets for this favorite al fresco community event attended by thousands of Bay Area residents and visitors each year.

WEST COAST PREMIERE

THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Poul Ruders and Paul Bentley

September 14–October 1, 2024

Margaret Atwood's landmark novel, The Handmaid's Tale, comes to the War Memorial Opera House in the operatic adaptation by Grammy Award-nominated Danish composer Poul Ruders and librettist Paul Bentley. The story is set in a dystopian American future where women are forced into child-bearing servitude by a theocratic regime. Atwood's cautionary vision has inspired numerous works of theater, dance, film and television, including the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss. Ruders' opera, which premiered in Copenhagen in 2000, has been hailed by Gramophone as “vividly imaginative” and conveying “a disturbing story with great drama and stylistic flair.” The New York Times proclaimed it “a brilliant, brutal opera, one that should be taken up widely.”

Former head of the Royal Danish Opera John Fulljames directs his staging, a co-production between San Francisco Opera and The Royal Danish Theatre, which was originally scheduled for 2020 in San Francisco but was postponed by the pandemic. Set designer Chloe Lamford, who makes her Company debut this summer with Kaija Saariaho's Innocence, returns with set designs that situate the work in a converted high school gymnasium. Christina Cunningham designed the production's costumes, including the red coat and white hood of the handmaids, an iconic uniform that is often worn by protesters at demonstrations when legislative and judicial actions threaten the rights of women. Fabiana Piccioli is the lighting designer, and projections are by Will Duke. Karen Kamensek, who made her house debut conducting Carlisle Floyd's Susannah in 2014, returns to lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Ruders' spectacular score, which will be performed in English and includes haunting uses of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts, who has performed the heroines of Offenbach, Bizet, Bright Sheng and Mozart on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House, stars as the handmaid Offred who is determined to find a way out of her nightmarish servitude and back to her child. This contemporary operatic masterwork also features mezzo-soprano Lindsay Ammann in her Company debut as Serena Joy, soprano Sarah Cambidge as Aunt Lydia and bass-baritone John Relyea as the Commander.

TRISTAN AND ISOLDE by Richard Wagner

October 19–November 5, 2024

Wagner's Tristan and Isolde (Tristan und Isolde), one of the most transcendent, boundary pushing musical-dramatic works of the nineteenth century, sails back onto the War Memorial Opera House stage after an 18-year hiatus. The composer's sublime score, which marshals the orchestra to embody the feeling of romantic yearning with expansive, unresolved harmonies—including the enigmatic “Tristan Chord”—illuminates a story of love transcending death itself. As part of her exploration of Wagner in San Francisco, Music Director Eun Sun Kim leads Tristan and Isolde for the first time in her career. In his Company debut, Paul Curran directs his staging from Venice's La Fenice that features production design by Robert Innes Hopkins, whose recent work for San Francisco Opera includes the new productions of Tosca, La Traviata and last season's The Elixir of Love, and lighting design by David Martin Jacques.

New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill who “triumphed in a propulsively sung account of the title role” (Opera) in San Francisco Opera's 2023 Lohengrin, brings his acclaimed portrayal of Tristan to San Francisco Opera. German soprano Anja Kampe who made her house debut as Sieglinde in the 2010 presentation of Wagner's Die Walküre, returns with her portrayal of Isolde which has been hailed at the Berlin State Opera, Munich's Bavarian State Opera and the Glyndebourne Festival. Distinguished Wagnerian bass Kwangchul Youn, who makes his Company debut this summer in Mozart's The Magic Flute, is King Marke. Baritone Wolfgang Koch and mezzo soprano Annika Schlicht both make their debuts with San Francisco Opera as Kurwenal and Brangäne, respectively.

BEETHOVEN'S NINTH SYMPHONY

Saturday, October 26, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

For the first time in Company history, the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus will perform Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony. A musical expression of peaceful unity among all people, this works stands as a testament to moral striving and human achievement. Eun Sun Kim leads the Company's combined forces, including vocal soloists soprano Jennifer Holloway, mezzo-soprano Annika Schlicht, tenor Russell Thomas and bass Kwangchul Youn, in this special performance honoring the work's 200th anniversary.

CARMEN by Georges Bizet

November 13–December 1, 2024

As the finale to the 2024 Fall Season, Bizet's Carmen returns in the sun-scorched staging by director Francesca Zambello and under the baton of Benjamin Manis in his Company debut. The opera's unforgettable melodies and gritty drama about the tumultuous affair between a free-spirited woman and an obsessive soldier have made Carmen a perennial audience favorite for nearly 150 years.

San Francisco Opera's revival promises a high-octane ensemble headed by Swiss-born mezzo-soprano Eve-Maud Hubeaux in her American opera debut. After captivating audiences in Vienna, Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, Hubeaux made international headlines at the 2022 Salzburg Festival as a last-minute substitute as Amneris in Verdi's Aida. Her performance prompted one critic to say, “Next to her, everyone else fades” (Die Süddeutsche Zeitung).

Chilean American tenor Jonathan Tetelman, who brought “power, ardor, and glorious sheen” and “flawless vocalism” (San Francisco Classical Voice) to his San Francisco Opera debut as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata, returns for his role debut as Don José. Tetelman, who was named one of the “Top 11 Singers of 2023” by OperaWire and is an exclusive recording artist for Deutsche Gramophon, is among opera's most sought-after tenors. Known on the stages of Europe for her effervescence and charm in a wide variety of roles, soprano Louise Alder makes her long-awaited American opera debut performing the role of Micaëla for the first time. Renowned American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn returns to San Francisco as the dashing toreador, Escamillo.

CARMEN ENCOUNTER

Thursday, November 21, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

A special event inspired by Bizet's Carmen will transform the Opera House into an immersive evening of multi-sensory experiences. The night begins with a performance of the first act of the opera and then attendees will be transported to Seville, Spain in the lobby areas for dancing, interactive experiences and a festive party. Recommended for audiences ages 21 and over. For more information, visit sfopera.com/encounter.

THE FUTURE IS NOW: ADLER FELLOWS IN CONCERT

Friday, November 15, 2024 at 7:30 p.m.

San Francisco Opera Center's 2024 class of Adler Fellows give their final concert of the year on November 15 with a program of scenes and arias accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, at Herbst Theatre. Tickets for The Future Is Now will go on sale in July 2024.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA CHORUS IN CONCERT

Sunday, November 17, 2024 at 2 p.m.

The celebrated San Francisco Opera Chorus performs an intimate concert on November 17 at the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater. Chorus Director John Keene leads the members of the Company's full-time chorus, and Associate Chorus Master Fabrizio Corona accompanies at the piano for this afternoon of choral music. Tickets for San Francisco Opera Chorus in Concert will go on sale in July 2024.

SUMMER 2025

LA BOHÈME by Giacomo Puccini

June 3–21, 2025

Puccini's popular work about love and loss among a group of bohemian artists in 19th-century Paris will be presented in director John Caird and designers David Farley and Michael Clark's production. The “elegant staging” (Mercury News) of this deeply moving story will be revived by Katherine M. Carter in her directorial debut. Conductor Ramón Tebar, whose 2023 debut leading Donizetti's The Elixir of Love brought out the score's “vivacious energy” (San Francisco Chronicle), leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and two brilliant casts.

In the first cast, beloved Samoan tenor Pene Pati introduces his portrayal of the poet Rodolfo, which has touched audiences in Europe and Canada, to San Francisco for the first time. Chinese soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho, who “brought out to perfection” (San Francisco Chronicle) the rich and tragic music of Princess Jia in Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber, debuts her Mimì. Soprano Andrea Carroll makes her Company debut as Musetta, and baritone Lucas Meachem returns to portray the painter Marcello, adding another Puccini role to his distinguished credits with the Company.

The second cast for La Bohème includes the Rodolfo of tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson, whose debut as Lensky in Eugene Onegin during the Company's Centennial Season “filled the cavernous War Memorial with a gorgeous, well-focused, lyrical voice” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Soprano Nicole Car, a “poignant, eloquent figure” (San Francisco Chronicle) in her 2022 Company debut as Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni, returns as Mimì. Soprano Brittany Renee, who earned praise as Julie in Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels' Omar last November, performs the role of Musetta and, in his San Francisco Opera debut, baritone Will Liverman portrays Marcello. Bass Bogdan Talos joins the Company as Colline, singing all performances.

IDOMENEO by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

June 14–25, 2025

Mozart was 24 years old when he composed Idomeneo, a towering exemplar of the opera seria genre wherein diverse vocal showcases are set against a formalized, classical setting. Mozart achieved in Idomeneo a work of exquisite beauty and vivid expression for soloists and chorus alike. The story follows King Idomeneo who, pleading to Neptune for safe passage through a tempestuous journey at sea, offers to sacrifice the first person he sees upon his return. When he reaches land, the first person to meet him is his own son, Idamante. Music Director Eun Sun Kim leads the Company's forces in debuting Australian director Lindy Hume's staging which highlights the tension between individuals and nature with imagery of the surging seas and craggy coastlines of Tasmania. The production features scenery originally designed by Michael Yeargan with additional consulting by Richard Roberts and the work of costume designer Anna Cordingley, lighting designer Verity Hampson, video designer David Bergman and cinematography by Catherine Pettman of Rummin Productions.

The cast of expert Mozart singers is headed by tenor Matthew Polenzani who brings his acclaimed portrayal of Idomeneo to San Francisco Opera for the first time. Daniela Mack inspired audiences as Frida Kahlo in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's El último sueño de Frida y Diego last summer and returns this June in Handel's Partenope. The acclaimed Argentinian mezzo-soprano returns in Summer 2025 as Idamante. Soprano Ying Fang, “indispensable in Mozart” makes her house debut as the Trojan princess, Ilia, a role she “sings with both silky warmth and agile sparkle” (New York Times). Soprano Elza van den Heever returns to San Francisco Opera as Elettra, a character of extreme emotions whose rage aria in Act III anticipates that great creation of nineteenth-century Italian opera: the mad scene.




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