Release date: 8/21/2009

San Francisco Opera Presents Verdi's Il Trovatore Featuring Sondra Radvanovsky, Stephanie Blythe, Marco Berti and Dmitri Hvorostovsky September 11-October 6, War Memorial Opera House

Photos Available
SAN FRANCISCO (August 21, 2009)—San Francisco Opera’s General Director David Gockley launches the Company’s 87th season with Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore at the War Memorial Opera House. Opening on Friday, September 11 with seven subsequent performances through October 6, Verdi’s classic melodrama is highlighted by many of opera’s most recognizable melodies and has been a staple of San Francisco Opera’s repertory for more than 80 years.
Maestro Nicola Luisotti begins his inaugural season as the Company’s music director with Il Trovatore, featuring the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. An international cast of world renowned opera stars has been assembled for this season opening production, led by Italian tenor Marco Berti in the title role. Sondra Radvanovsky makes her San Francisco Opera debut as Leonora, and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe makes her first appearance in a fully staged San Francisco Opera production in these performances as Azucena. Blythe shares the role with Malgorzata Walewska, also making her San Francisco Opera debut. Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky returns to the Company as Count di Luna, a role he shares with Quinn Kelsey in this visually striking production by David McVicar directed by Walter Sutcliffe.
Marco Berti, who made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2006 as Don José in Carmen, is the troubadour Manrico, a role he also performs this season at the Metropolitan Opera. Returning to San Francisco Opera after recent critically acclaimed performances in the title role of 2008’s Simon Boccanegra, Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings the role of Manrico’s rival, the deceptive Count di Luna. Alternately appearing as Count di Luna in the final two performances is Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey, a Merola Opera Program alumnus who made his San Francisco Opera debut as Marcello last season in La Bohème.
American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky appears as the beautiful Leonora, the lady-in-waiting to the Princess and object of desire for both Manrico and Count di Luna. Radvanovsky has previously performed this role at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. Azucena, a Gypsy who has posed as Manrico’s mother, is sung by internationally acclaimed artist and Musical America's 2009 Vocalist of the Year Stephanie Blythe. Blythe has previously sung Azucena at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and recently made her San Francisco Opera debut in the Verdi Requiem. Polish mezzo-soprano Malgorzata Walewska appears as Azucena in two performances, a role she has performed with Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
Turkish bass Burak Bilgili makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Luna’s officer Ferrando, a role he recently performed at the Metropolitan Opera and in Geneva. Appearing as Azucena’s friend Inez and Manrico’s accomplice Ruiz are San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Renée Tatum and Andrew Bidlack.
Among the most exciting recent directorial appointments in classical music is Maestro Nicola Luisotti, who begins his highly anticipated tenure as San Francisco Opera’s music director with this production of Il Trovatore. Luisotti is the Company’s third music director and succeeds Sir John Pritchard and Donald Runnicles. Following in the footsteps of San Francisco Opera’s founder and first general director, Italian-born Gaetano Merola, Luisotti brings to the Company an innate command of the classic Italian operatic repertoire. In his inaugural season as San Francisco Opera’s music director, Maestro Luisotti conducts Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore and Otello, Giacomo Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West), and Richard Strauss’s Salome.
This large-scale, traditional production, a San Francisco Opera co-production previously presented by Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera, is inspired by the haunting imagery of 18th-century Spanish painter Francisco de Goya. Presented in two acts, the New York Times called this cinematic interpretation “clear-headed, psychologically insightful and fluid.” Originally directed by David McVicar, who made his San Francisco Opera debut with 2007’s Don Giovanni, this revival is directed by British opera and theater director Walter Sutcliffe. The San Francisco Opera Chorus is directed by Ian Robertson.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of Il Trovatore are scheduled for September 11 (7 p.m.), September 16 (7:30 p.m.), September 19 (8 p.m.), September 22 (8 p.m.), September 25 (8 p.m.), October 1 (7:30 p.m.), October 4 (2 p.m.), and October 6 (7:30 p.m.) 2009.
Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark / Saturday, September 19
San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Giants partner with Webcor Builders once again to bring grand opera to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, on Saturday, September 19 at 8 p.m. The opening week of the Company’s 2009–10 season culminates with a free live simulcast of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore starring Marco Berti in the title role and conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti.Over27,000 music lovers enjoyed the Company’s most recent simulcast of Tosca in June 2009, and large crowds are once again expected to turn out and experience glorious music in one of San Francisco’s most beautiful locations. Through state-of-the-art technology made possible by the Koret-Taube Media Suite, these simulcasts are transmitted in high definition (HD) to AT&T Park’s 103-feet wide scoreboard—one of the highest quality outdoor scoreboards in the nation—live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. Concert quality audio combined with AT&T Park’s huge screen creates an unmatched operatic experience for attendees sitting in the stands and on the baseball field. Traditional baseball game concessions are available, providing audiences the rare opportunity to eat hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn while enjoying superb opera.
Tickets and Information
Tickets for Il Trovatore range from each 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.
The September 19 Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark simulcast at AT&T Park is free and open to the public; advance online registration assures early entrance into the ballpark for preferred seating and entry into a special prize drawing. Visit to register.
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 Il Trovatore and San Francisco Opera’s 2009-10 season, please visit