San Francisco Opera's Summer 2016 Season Opens with U.S. Premiere of Bizet's CARMEN

By: May. 14, 2016
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San Francisco Opera's Summer 2016 Season at the War Memorial Opera House opens May 27 with Georges Bizet's Carmen. Opera's ultimate femme fatale returns in a bold staging by the daring Catalan opera and theater director Calixto Bieito in his U.S. opera debut. Mezzo-sopranos Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson star in the passionate title role. In a casting change announced today, tenor Brian Jagde, originally scheduled to star as Don José in six of Carmen's eleven performances running through July 3, will now sing the role for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by Adam Diegel. Jagde and Diegel replace tenor Maxim Aksenov, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. San Francisco Opera also returns to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, for a free live simulcast of Carmen on July 2.

Carmen marks the long-awaited United States opera debut of innovative international director Calixto Bieito. The so-called "bad-boy of opera," Bieito is hailed for his provocative and iconoclastic opera productions. His raw, sexually-charged and cinematic vision of Carmen unabashedly provokes the visceral emotions pulsing through this tale of love, lust and murder. Bieito's "intelligent, persuasive and intense" (The Guardian, UK) high-energy production will be staged in San Francisco by his longtime collaborator, Spanish director Joan Anton Rechi.

This powerful tale of a defiantly free-spirited woman and her obsessive lover features two outstanding casts. Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson share the role of the impassioned gypsy Carmen. Brian Jagde is the lovesick soldier Don José for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by American tenor Adam Diegel in his San Francisco Opera debut. Diegel performed the role in Bieito's 2012 production for English National Opera. The casts also feature baritone Zachary Nelson and bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as the dashing bullfighter Escamillo, and sopranos Ellie Dehn and Erika Grimaldi sharing the role of Micaëla. Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro makes his Company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in Bizet's fiery, tuneful score, with Company Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer conducting the final performance on July 3.

Bieito commented: "This opera, from my point of view, deals with limits, the emotional and physical boundaries between people, and about freedom, love, violence, sorrow, desperation, solitude. Carmen is a young woman in the context of a difficult life where she has had to survive. She is intuitive, earthy, passionate, melancholy, sensitive-a young person who desires to drink up life- who is living in a dangerous and violent society. My Carmen is not picturesque, nor folkloric, nor a collection of engravings of a stereotypical old Spain. It is a Carmen that walks across the border."

Bieito's Carmen is set in post-Franco Spain in the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta, the ancient Mediterranean outpost located on the north coast of Africa. According to revival director Joan Anton Rechi: "Calixto wanted a high level of realism to show a wild and cruel universe full of passions and primal virility," and notes the production is more faithful to the gritty and raw naturalism of the original Mérimée novel that Bizet and his co-librettists adapted.

The San Francisco Opera co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, based on Bieito's original production, was built by the San Francisco Opera production department and reunites Bieito's original Carmen creative team including set designer Alfons Flores and costume designer Mercè Paloma. The production design elements include six 1980s-era Mercedes Benz W123 model cars, which were procured in the Bay Area. These Mercedes-Benz sedans are ubiquitous in Ceuta and surrounding areas, where they are used as "Grand Taxis," a popular form of transportation in the region. The cars appear in the production's modern-day frontier universe as the method by which the gypsies smuggle their contraband.

Please note: This production contains violence, nudity and suggestive behavior. Parent discretion advised.

Free Live Simulcast of Carmen, AT&T Park / July 2

Continuing what has become a beloved Bay Area tradition, San Francisco Opera partners with the San Francisco Giants and presenting sponsor Taube Philanthropies for Opera at the Ballpark-a free live simulcast of Bizet's Carmen at AT&T Park on Saturday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. Through state-of-the-art technology, the performance of Carmen will be transmitted live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park's high-definition scoreboard. AT&T Park concessions will be open for the simulcast, providing audiences the rare opportunity to pair hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn with world-class opera. Last year's Opera at the Ballpark drew an audience of 30,130 to AT&T Park for Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Opera at the Ballpark is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Taube Philanthropies, and the extraordinary technology of the Koret/Taube Media Suite. Free registration for early entry/best seating and entry into a special prize drawing is available at

Tickets for Carmen are priced from $26 to $395 (prices subject to change). For tickets and information, call (415) 864-3330, visit or visit the San Francisco Opera Box Office, 301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street). Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only, limit two per person.

Before every opera performance, listen to charismatic music scholars present a 25-minute Opera Talk including an overview of the opera, with insights on the music, composer and historical background. Talks begin 55 minutes before each performance in the orchestra section of the War Memorial Opera House and are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street. Patrons are encouraged to use public transportation to attend San Francisco Opera performances. The War Memorial Opera House is within walking distance of the Civic Center BART station and near numerous bus lines, including 5, 21, 47, 49 and the F Market Street. For more public transportation information, visit and

Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about San Francisco Opera's Summer 2016 season, please visit


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