Release date: 8/30/2010

San Francisco Opera Presents Massenet's Werther September 15-October 1, War Memorial Opera House

Ramon Vargas and Alice Coote Star in New Production Premiere

Photos Available
San Francisco Opera presents Werther, Jules Massenet’s French opera based on Goethe’s novel, at the War Memorial Opera House opening September 15 with five subsequent performances through October 1. Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas appears in the title role alongside mezzo-soprano Alice Coote as Charlotte. This new co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, directed by Francisco Negrin and designed by Louis Désiré, debuts in San Francisco and is led by French conductor Emmanuel Villaume. These performances mark the return of Werther to the War Memorial Opera House stage after an absence of 25 years and only the fifth time it has been presented in the Company’s 88-year history.
Bringing one of his signature roles to San Francisco Opera, renowned lyric tenor Ramón Vargas appears in the title role of Werther, the story of a poet who cannot bear the pain of unfulfilled love. Ramon Vargas has previously sung Werther at opera houses in Vienna, Monte-Carlo, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Other recent credits include the title role of La Damnation de Faust and Rodolfo in La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera; Riccardo in Un Ballo in Maschera at Royal Opera, Covent Garden; and Rodolfo in Luisa Miller at Vienna State Opera. Vargas made his San Francisco Opera debut in 1999 as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and last appeared with the Company as Nemorino in 2008’s L’elisir D’amore.
Acclaimed British mezzo-soprano Alice Coote returns to San Francisco Opera as Charlotte, a role she recently sang at Frankfurt Opera and Opera North in the U.K. Of her April 2010 solo recital at the Herbst Theater, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “The prevailing pleasure of the evening came in the singer's emotional acuity, an uncanny way of bending her distinctive, mahogany-luster voice to the precise character of a song.” Coote’s two highly praised previous appearances at San Francisco Opera include Ruggiero in 2002’s Alcina and Idamante in 2008’s Idomeneo.
Soprano Heidi Stober makes her San Francisco Opera debut singing the role of Charlotte’s sister Sophie for the first time. She has recently performed more than ten roles at Deutsche Oper Berlin including Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. Stober will return to San Francisco Opera as Susanna in three performances of Le nozze di Figaro in October 2010. Baritone Brian Mulligan recently made his role debuts as Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor) and Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) with English National Opera and returns to San Francisco Opera to appear as Charlotte’s betrothed Albert for the first time. Mulligan recently appeared as Valentin in the Company’s Summer 2010 production of Faust and will return this season in Madama Butterfly and Cyrano de Bergerac.
Bass-baritone Christian Van Horn sings the role of the Bailiff following his Company debut as the King of Egypt in Aida; he will also appear this season as the Bonze in Madama Butterfly. Tenor Robert MacNeil makes his role debut as Schmidt; he will return this season as Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. Adler Fellows Susannah Biller and Austin Kness complete the cast as the lovers Kätchen and Brühlmann, respectively.  
Massenet’s opera, which is based on Johann Wolfgang vonGoethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, was last presented at the War Memorial Opera House in 1985. This new co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, directed by stage director Francisco Negrin and designed by Louis Désiré, is a psychologically intriguing take on this timeless story. The production debuts in San Francisco and is conducted by French conductor Emmanuel Villaume; the San Francisco Opera Chorus is led by Ian Robertson.
Sung in French with English supertitles, the six performances of Werther are scheduled for September 15 (7:30 p.m.), September 18 (8 p.m.), September 22 (7:30 p.m.), September 26 (2 p.m.), September 28 (8 p.m.), and October 1 (8 p.m.), 2010.
San Francisco Opera Guild Panel Insight Discussion
San Francisco Opera Guild will present an Insight Panel Discussion featuring members of the cast and production team from Werther. The discussion will take place on Monday, September 13 at 6 p.m. in the Herbst Theatre at the War Memorial Veterans Building (401 Van Ness Avenue). 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.
Tickets and Information
Tickets for Massenet’s Werther are priced from $20 to $360 and may be purchased at or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office [301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street), 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 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 Werther and San Francisco Opera’s 2010–11 season, please visit