Release date: 3/10/2010

San Francisco Opera Presents 2010 Summer Season June 5-July2; Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, Wagner's Die Walküre & Gounod's Faust

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SAN FRANCISCO, March 10, 2010—San Francisco Opera presents its 2010 Summer Season
June 5–July 2 at the War Memorial Opera House, featuring Charles François Gounod’s Faust, Giacomo Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) and Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre. This diverse trio of operas, with librettos in French, Italian and German, ranges from Gounod’s exceedingly popular French adaptation of Goethe’s literary epic to Puccini’s self-proclaimed “best opera” and concludes with the highly anticipated second installment of Wagner’s epic four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Each of these three operas features world renowned casts and conductors and are presented in productions new to San Francisco.
            For a limited time, subscriptions to see all three Summer Season operas are available at a 30% discount.  Six different Trio packages as well as Design Your Own packages are available at discounted prices through March 31, 2010.  Clothing retailer Banana Republic is pleased to offer a 30% discount coupon* to San Francisco Opera patrons who purchase a Summer Trio package.  Call 415-864-3330 or visit the San Francisco Opera Box Office (301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco) to take advantage of this special offer. (*Redeemable on purchases of $100 or more. Other restrictions apply. See coupon for full details.)
San Francisco Opera’s summer repertory opens June 5 with Gounod’s classic French Romantic masterpiece Faust. A forlorn philosopher regains his youth by making a dubious deal with the Devil in this ever-popular opera that has been performed in 18 previous San Francisco Opera seasons and featured such legends as Jussi Björling, Ezio Pinza, Licia Albanese, and Samuel Ramey. A complicated triangle of characters is headlined by Stefano Secco, the Italian tenor who made his San Francisco Opera debut last season in Verdi’s Requiem, as Faust. Stunning American dramatic soprano Patricia Racette continues her more than 20-year relationship with San Francisco Opera as she returns to sing Marguerite, and John Relyea sings Méphistophélès, a role he has recently sung to great acclaim at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.Italian maestro Maurizio Benini, hailed for his mastery of this lush score, makes his San Francisco Opera debut conducting Gounod’s orchestration which showcases the artistry of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Jose Maria Condemi directs this passion-filled production from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi conducts the final two performances.
A love triangle set during the California Gold Rush, the work Puccini considered “the best of my operas” returns to San Francisco for the first time in three decades in celebration of its 100th anniversary. Based on the play by San Francisco native David Belasco, La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) boasts one of Puccini’s most brilliant scores with music influenced by both 19th-century Impressionist music and themes from American folk music. The son of a miner and the author of the play that inspired another of Puccini’s most popular operas (Madama Butterfly), Belasco captures the spirit of Gold Rush-era California complete with a Wild West saloon, a high-stakes poker game, a Wells Fargo agent and a beautiful, pistol-packing barkeep named Minnie.
Considered by many to be the original spaghetti Western, Belasco’s classic cowboy story and Puccini’s lush melodic score served as inspiration for future Hollywood movie makers and composers alike. Most notably, the famous song “The Music of the Night” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera so much resembles the tune from the beautiful aria "Quello che tacete" that the Puccini estate filed suit against Webber, accusing him of plagiarism.
The superb cast is led by American dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt in her role debut as Minnie. Italian baritone Roberto Frontali, who made his Company debut in 1993 as Riccardo in Bellini’s I Puritani, sings the role of Sheriff Jack Rance and Salvatore Licitra makes his highly anticipated San Francisco Opera debut as the cunning bandit Dick Johnson. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts Puccini’s lush score and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi leads the final performance.
A powerful god finds himself torn by conflicting loyalties as the second installment of Wagner’s majestic Ring cycle comes to San Francisco after a successful debut at Washington National Opera. in this co-production with Washington National Opera. San Francisco Opera artistic adviser and director Francesca Zambellogives this epic tale of an emotionally volatile father and his disobedient children a distinctly American touch in this theatrical and innovative production.
One of the most recognizable tunes in all of opera, the popular theme “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre has been featured in many Hollywood movies, including The Birth of a Nation (1915), Apocalypse Now (1979) and Watchmen (2009).
Former San Francisco Opera music director and noted Wagnerian Donald Runniclesleads a world-class cast, including two stunning sopranos: Nina Stemme, whose portrayal of  Senta in the Company's 2004 production of  The Flying Dutchman garnered rave reviews, will make her role debut as Die Walküre’sBrünnhilde and Eva-Maria Westbroek will make her San Francisco Opera debut as Sieglinde. Westbroek has previously appeared as Sieglinde with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and at the Salzburg, Bayreuth and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. British tenor Christopher Ventris, who has starred in San Francisco Opera productions of Wagner’s Parsifal and Der Fliegende Holländer, returns to sing Siegmund. Former Adler Fellow Mark Delavan, whose 2008 Wotan in the Company’s Das Rheingold washailed as "robust and commanding" by the San Francisco Chronicle, returns to make his role debut as Die Walküre’s Wotan. This production of Die Walküre will be part of the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen—in addition to Das Rheingold, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung—presented in three cycles in June 2011.
San Francisco Opera Guild presents Sundown at the Golden West Saloon, an festive gala celebrating the opening of the 2010 Summer Season and the 100th anniversary of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West). The event will take place on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at The Bently Reserve (301 Battery Street) in San Francisco and will honor new San Francisco Opera music director and master of the Italian repertoire Maestro Nicola Luisotti. All proceeds support the award-winning education and community outreach programs of San Francisco Opera Guild that reach more than 50,000 young people in 200 schools throughout Northern California every year.
The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception complete with libations from the Sierra Madre and a silent wine auction.  Patrons of this exciting celebration will be transported back to the Old West circa 1850, with its legendary gold miners, outlaws and frontier women in pursuit of fame, fortune and gold. At 8:00 p.m. guests will enter the hall to enjoy a delicious dinner by McCall Associates, a brief live auction and dancing. Event co-chairs are Chandra Friese and Linda Elliott Zider.
San Francisco Opera Guild will present two Insight Panel Discussions in the Herbst Theatre at the War Memorial Veterans Building (401 Van Ness Avenue) featuring members of the cast and production team from La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) and Die Walküre. Insight Panel Discussions will take place on Wednesday, June 2 (La Fanciulla del West) and Monday, June 7 (Die Walküre) at 6 p.m. Insight panels are free for Opera members and $5 for the general public; tickets can be purchased at the door 30 minutes prior to the discussion.
Three-opera Trio packages for Faust, La Fanciulla Del West (The Girl of the Golden West) and Die Walküre are available at a 30% discount (priced from $60 to $686) through March 31, 2010. Trio packages are available at the San Francisco Opera Box Office either in person or by phone at (415) 864-3330. This offer is not valid online. Single tickets are priced from $15 to $360 and may be purchased online at or from the San Francisco Opera Box Office either in person or by phone at (415) 864-3330. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only. All performances will feature an informative Opera Talk fifty-five minutes prior to curtain; Opera Talks 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 For further information, please visit