Release date: 9/9/2009

San Francisco Opera Presents Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio September 23-October 23, War Memorial Opera House

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SAN FRANCISCO (September 9, 2009)—San Francisco Opera presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), opening September 23 with six subsequent performances through October 23 at the War Memorial Opera House. A sparkling comedy featuring an internationally renowned cast, this production is led by soprano Mary Dunleavy and tenor Matthew Polenzani as the young lovers Constanze and Belmonte. This co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago is directed by Chas Rader-Shieber and features the U.S. operatic debut of conductor Cornelius Meister.
Composed relatively early in Mozart’s operatic career, Die Entführung aus dem Serailis a lighthearted comedy that tells the story of Pasha Selim, the strong-willed women he kidnaps for his harem, and the two young men who plot to rescue their sweethearts. A Singspiel opera that incorporates spoken conversation, this production will be sung in German with English dialogue.
Last seen at San Francisco Opera as Gilda in 2006’s Rigoletto, American soprano Mary Dunleavy returns to the Company as Constanze, a beautiful aristocrat who is betrothed to the noble Belmonte. After being captured by pirates along with her servant Blonde, Constanze is sold into the Pasha’s harem.  Soprano Anna Christy sings Blonde, her interpretation of which has previously been described as “a delight of feisty energy and sweet, sharp vocalism.” Matthew Polenzani returns to San Francisco Opera to sing Belmonte, Constanze’s loyal fiancée who unsuccessfully attempts to orchestrate her escape. The Chicago Tribune called Polenzani’s run of performances in the same role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago a “triumph.”
Belmonte’s servant and Blonde’s sweetheart Pedrillo is performed by current Adler Fellow Andrew Bidlack, who also will sing Ruiz this season in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Bass Peter Rose sings Osmin, Pasha Selim’s servant who is charged with guarding the female captives and whose advances on Blonde are consistently rejected. Having previously performed Osmin at Hamburg State Opera, Rose will reprise the role this season in Munich. The speaking role of the Pasha, whose heart is eventually softened by the pleas of his prisoners, is performed by Bay Area actor Charles Shaw Robinson.  
Young German conductor Cornelius Meister makes his highly anticipated United States operatic debut with this production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Chief conductor of the Heidelberg Philharmonic Orchestra and recently announced chief conductor and artistic director of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Meister has led numerous operas and orchestras throughout Europe since his 2002 conducting debut. San Francisco Opera Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi conducts the final two performances in his first appearances since assuming his new position with the Company. Finzi was last seen conducting 2008’s The Elixir of Love for Families and San Francisco Opera’s 2009 concert at the Stern Grove Festival.
This co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, designed by David Zinn with lighting by Christopher Akerlind, is directed by Chas Rader-Schieber in his San Francisco Opera debut. The production, which the Chicago Sun-Times called “fanciful” and “theatrical,” had its debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in March 2009. The San Francisco Opera Chorus is directed by Ian Robertson.
The Saturday, October 17, 2 p.m. matinee and Friday, October 23, 8 p.m. evening performances of The Abduction from the Seraglio are being offered at a special family discount of 50% off for adults and 75% off for children. With children’s tickets starting as low as $13.75, this reduced-price ticket offer allows families to introduce young people to the magic of world-class opera at an affordable cost. This offer is available online only and is recommended for children ages 10 and up. Visit for tickets and information.
San Francisco Opera Guild presents an Insight Panel Discussion featuring members of the cast and production team on Monday, September 21 at 6 p.m. in the Herbst Theatre. 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
Sung in German with English dialogue and English supertitles, the seven performances of The Abduction from the Seraglio are scheduled for September 23 (7:30 p.m.), September 26 (8 p.m.), September 29 (8 p.m.), October 2 (8 p.m.), October 11 (2 p.m.), October 17 (2 p.m.), and October 23 (8 p.m.), 2009.
Tickets and Information
Tickets for The Abduction from the Seraglio range from $15 to $350 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 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only. 310 each and
Tickets for the October 17, 2 p.m. and October 23, 8 p.m. performances of The Abduction from the Seraglio are being offered at a special family discount of 50% off for adults and 75% off for children and may be purchased online only at familymozart.
All performances will feature an informative Opera Talk by choral conductor and music historian Dr. Bruce Lamott. Talks begin fifty-five 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 The Abduction from the Seraglio and San Francisco Opera’s 2009-10 season, please visit