American Bass-Baritone Michael Sumuel has participated in our Merola Opera Program and even sang a Schwabacher Debut Recital last season, but Heart of a Soldier marks his official San Francisco Opera debut. In this opera, his primary role is Tom, an American soldier and medic who loses his life in the battle of X-Ray in Vietnam.

Opening night is drawing closer! I came into this process knowing that it would be just that-a process. It isn't often that you'll make an important debut with a company such as San Francisco Opera in a world premiere with the composer and librettist present and telling the true story of three remarkable human beings. It is an overwhelming task to concisely describe the process up to this point but I am incredibly grateful to be just one piece within a larger scope. 

Posted: 09/01/2011 by Michael Sumuel (Tom and Ted, Heart of a Soldier)


Heart of a Soldier is a compelling true story of two men who are the grit and grizzle of what we call American Heroes and I get to cover one of them: Dan Hill
 
This story is so amazing at all levels, and so close to the heart that it's hard not to get wrapped up in it. In this situation, the man is not only real, but he is alive, and will be here to see the production.  One wants to be as accurate as possible when performing the life of another.
Posted: 08/31/2011 by Brian Jagde (Dan Hill Cover, Heart of a Soldier)


“Do you have to wear your glasses? No? Then I want them off. And do you have high heels with you? Yes? Good. Go put them on. I want you wearing heels.”
 
These are some of the first words spoken to me by director Francesca Zambello as I enter my maiden rehearsal for Heart of a Soldier. Having just come from a day at work, I had changed into flats and put on my glasses--which I typically only wear for driving, movie watching, or making sure flying stage knives aren’t headed my way--so that I would be better prepared for what the night would hold. It was clear in that moment that my journey from mere civilian to Supernumerary (or ‘Super,’ for short) was underway.
Posted: 08/29/2011 by Kristen Jones (Senior Leadership Gifts Officer)


When Heart of a Soldier premieres on Saturday, September 10 at the War Memorial Opera House, Susan Rescorla and Dan Hill will find themselves in the unusual position of seeing themselves depicted on stage.  For the opera’s creators, Christopher Theofanidis and librettist Donna Di Novelli, having the people whose story they are telling in the audience is also a rare and rather nerve-wracking experience. 
 
Opera News writer Patrick Dillon spoke to Chris and Donna about how they approached depicting real-life people, and also spoke to Susan Rescorla about how it feels to have her late husband’s story told in an opera, and about the bond that has formed between her and soprano Melody Moore, who will sing the role of Susan. Their stories so inspired Dillon that he ended up writing even more than the magazine had asked for and some of it ultimately could not be included because of space limitations. Not wanting any of this fantastic material to go to waste, we decided to share some of that excluded text here. Patrick’s feature on Heart of a Soldier is in the September issue of Opera News, so be sure to pick up a copy to read the rest of the story.
Posted: 08/27/2011 by Patrick Dillon (Writer, Opera News)


Thursday, 8/18/11—Meeting Susan Rescorla. I just got off the phone with Susan Rescorla and we're planning a little Sonoma getaway—just us two silly girls—for Labor Day. I've gotten to know Susan so well over the 8 months that have passed since we first met at our Heart of a Soldier workshop and press conference in December of last year. It has been an honor to get to know this woman who is a perfect balance of resilience and vulnerability. Our first meeting, at least on my part, was full of anticipation and a healthy dose of fear. I was so nervous with questions..."What will she be like?", "Will I be able to sing this in front of her without crying?" and "Will she appreciate the work and give her approval?" So many unknowns.
 
Posted: 08/22/2011 by Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla, Heart of a Soldier)


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Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.

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