San Francisco Opera Presents World Premiere Of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA Next Month

Performances run September 10 - October 5.

By: Aug. 10, 2022
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San Francisco Opera Presents World Premiere Of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA Next Month

San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of John Adams' Antony and Cleopatra on Saturday, September 10, with performances through October 5. From the composer of Nixon in China, this new work is an international co-commission and co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, Barcelona's Liceu Opera and Palermo's Teatro Massimo created especially for San Francisco Opera's 100th season which opens September 9 with a gala concert and Opera Ball. The September 18 matinee performance of Antony and Cleopatra will be livestreamed and available on demand for 48 hours. Virtual tickets for the livestream go on sale later this month.

The libretto for Antony and Cleopatra is adapted from Shakespeare's drama by the composer with consultation by Elkhanah Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner. San Francisco Opera Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim will conduct this highly anticipated new work. The cast is headed by Egyptian soprano Amina Edris creating the role of Cleopatra and noted Adams collaborators bass-baritone Gerald Finley as Antony and tenor Paul Appleby as Caesar. Chorus Director John Keene prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus to portray the peoples of Rome and Alexandria.

John Adams stated: "I am proud to continue my longstanding collaboration with the great San Francisco Opera with this, the fifth opera of mine the company has presented over the years. Antony and Cleopatra is a story that embraces not only the intimate and human but also the geopolitical and the clash of civilizations. As is always the case with Shakespeare, its themes mirror the realities of life even as we live it at this very moment."

The production by director Elkhanah Pulitzer presents the story's political battles and the famous love story of these figures from antiquity through an updated setting inspired by 1930s Hollywood glamor. The use of newsreel footage will enhance the characters' larger-than-life public personas, while Cleopatra, Antony and Caesar are illuminated in their intimate interactions amid the mounting tension and fierce pulse of Adams' score. Pulitzer heads a production team of Tony Award-winning set designer and MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien, costume designer Constance Hoffman, lighting designer David Finn, projection designer Bill Morrison and sound designer and mixing engineer Mark Grey.

Antony and Cleopatra adds a new chapter to the storied connection between San Francisco Opera and one of the world's most prominent composers. John Adams' Doctor Atomic (2005) and Girls of the Golden West (2017) were commissioned by the Company and had their world premieres at the War Memorial Opera House, while The Death of Klinghoffer, a San Francisco Opera co-commission, and Nixon in China were presented here in 1992 and 2012, respectively. Now celebrating his 75th year, the composer and Bay Area resident was honored this summer with the Nonesuch Records release of John Adams Collected Works, a 40-CD boxed set featuring orchestral, chamber music and opera recordings spanning more than four decades.

Born in Egypt and raised in New Zealand, soprano Amina Edris is one of the most exciting young stars on today's operatic stage. Following recent triumphs as Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata for Canadian Opera Company and with the Paris Opera in Rameau's Platée and the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma, Edris returns to San Francisco Opera as Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. The former Merola Opera Program participant (2015) and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow (2016, 2017) has performed many roles on the War Memorial Opera House stage, including an acclaimed 2019 Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, opposite the Roméo of her husband, tenor Pene Pati.

Edris is a featured artist in San Francisco Opera's 2022 Webby People's Voice award-winning video portrait series, In Song. Filmed on location in her native Cairo, In Song: Amina Edris follows the soprano's journey from a childhood infused with Arabic music to her emergence as an operatic soprano. Watch the 19-minute episode for free here:

Gerald Finley is the Roman general and ruler Antony, who clings to his passion for Cleopatra even as his political life falls apart. Finley made his 2005 San Francisco Opera debut in Adams' Doctor Atomic as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a role he has performed around the world and which is preserved on DVD in two different productions and on a recent CD conducted by the composer. Known for his moving stage portrayals in a vast repertoire encompassing works by Mozart and Rossini to Wagner, Bartok, Debussy, and Adams, the Canadian bass-baritone is also an acclaimed lieder singer and recitalist. New York Magazine paid tribute to his consummate artistry, saying Finley "... sings with the mellow baritone of a man about to stride into legend."

Tenor Paul Appleby made his Company debut in 2015 as Tamino in Mozart's The Magic Flute and returned in 2017 as Joe Cannon in the world premiere of Adams' Girls of the Golden West. A founding member of the American Modern Opera Company and graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Appleby has performed a diverse repertoire with the Metropolitan Opera, including the title role in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande and, most recently, Grimoaldo in Handel's Rodelinda. Hailed for his "bold and ardent" (Mercury News) voice, Appleby takes on the role of the young Caesar, Octavius.

Bass-baritone Alfred Walker has appeared with San Francisco Opera in Strauss' Elektra, Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel and Puccini's Tosca. He returns as Antony's confidante, Enobarbus. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong, who performed in Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under the composer's baton, portrays Caesar's sister, Octavia, who is married to Antony in a political alliance. DeShong's previous San Francisco Opera appearances include Orsini in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia and Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly.

Baritone Hadleigh Adams is Caesar's attendant, Agrippa, and tenor Brenton Ryan is Eros, a follower of Antony. Bass-baritone Philip Skinner portrays Lepidus, the third Triumvir with Caesar and Antony who ruled Rome before Caesar's rise as dictator. Completing the cast are mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven as Cleopatra's confidante, Charmian, and bass Patrick Blackwell as the Roman Maecenas, both in their Company debuts, and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Gabrielle Beteag as Iras and Timothy Murray as Scarus.

Now in her second season as San Francisco Opera's Music Director, Eun Sun Kim leads Orchestra, Chorus and cast. Named a New York Times 2021 Breakout Star, Kim's work on the podium leading Tosca for the Company was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle: "New music director Eun Sun Kim seized control of the score and led a performance of heaving intensity, subtle mood shifts and piquant details." Along with Antony and Cleopatra, she will conduct Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites (October 15-30) and new productions of Verdi's La Traviata (November 11-December 3) and Puccini's Madame Butterfly (June 3-July 1, 2023) with the Company this season, along with multiple concerts including the Opening Night Concert (September 9).

Free opportunities to experience Eun Sun Kim conduct San Francisco Opera during the Centennial Season include the Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park (September 11) and the live Opera at the Ballpark simulcast to Oracle Park of La Traviata (November 11). For more information about San Francisco Opera's Centennial, visit

The seven performances of Antony and Cleopatra are scheduled for September 10 (7:30 p.m.), 15 (7:30 p.m.), 18 (2 p.m.), 23 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.); October 2 (2 p.m.), 5 (7:30 p.m.), 2022.