Release date: 9/16/2011

San Francisco Opera Presents Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, Starring Renée Fleming, September 23-October 11, War Memorial Opera House

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San Francisco Opera presents the Company premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at the War Memorial Opera House. Opening on Friday, September 23 with six subsequent performances through October 11, Donizetti’s bel canto masterpiecefeatures legendary soprano Renée Fleming in the title role. Production designer and director John Pascoe makes his San Francisco Opera directorial debut with this production, and conductor Riccardo Frizza makes his Company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
 
Soprano Renée Fleming, one of the most acclaimed artists and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, returns to San Francisco Opera to appear as Lucrezia Borgia in Donizetti’s opera of the same name. Borgia, a femme fatale renowned for her ruthless pursuit of power, reveals poignant vulnerability when she comes face to face with her long-lost son. Fleming, who sings this signature title role “with raw intensity and earthy richness, utterly inhabiting the character” (The New York Times), last appeared with the Company in 2004 when she presented a season-opening gala concert with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Fleming made her San Francisco Opera debut in 1991 as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and she has since appeared with the Company in the title roles of Rusalka and Louise, asthe Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier and as Salomé in Hérodiade. Additionally, the soprano created the roles of Madame de Tourvel in Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons and Blanche DuBois in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire—two of San Francisco Opera’s many world premiere commissions. A three-time Grammy Award winner, Fleming will perform this season with the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Berlin Philharmonic, among others.
 
A grand prize winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Michael Fabiano makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Gennaro, a role he recently performed at English National Opera. Known to many through his role on the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009 documentary The Audition, Fabiano’s recent engagements include the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto at the Dresden Semperoper and English National Opera; Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with Vancouver Opera and at the ABAO in Bilbao; Rodolfo (La Bohème) with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Limoges Opera; and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and Greek National Opera.
                                            
Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong appears as Maffio Orsini, a role she recently debuted at English National Opera with Michael Fabiano. DeShong made her San Francisco Opera debut as the Page in Salome and her other recent credits include Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel and Kitchen Girl in Rusalka at the Glyndebourne Festival; the title role of La Cenerentola with Toronto's Canadian Opera Company; and Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Canadian Opera Company.
 
Bass Vitalij Kowaljow returns to San Francisco Opera as Alfonso d’Este, following past performances with the Company as Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Jacopo Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra and Pimen in Boris Godunov. Kowaljow’s impressive repertoire spans more than forty-five roles including Philip II in Don Carlos, Banquo in Macbeth, Ramfis in Aida, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino and the title role of Attila. Recent engagements include Wotan and the Wanderer in Der Ring des Nibelungen with Los Angeles Opera, Wotan in Die Walküre at Milan’s La Scala and Gremin in Eugene Onegin with Lyric Opera of Chicago.
 
This Washington National Opera production, created for Renée Fleming in 2008, was designed and is directed by John Pascoe, in his Company directorial debut. A native of England, Pascoe made his U.S. debut with San Francisco Opera as the set designer for Giulio Cesare in 1982 and returned to the Company as the set designer for Anna Bolena (1984, 1995) and Orlando (1985, 2000). Pascoe has previously directed and designed productions that have been seen at most of the world's major opera houses, including San Francisco Opera; the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Metropolitan Opera; English National Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Houston Grand Opera; Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera.
 
Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza makes his San Francisco Opera debut with this production. He has previously led productions of many of Donizetti’s best-known works, including La Fille du Régiment in Houston, Washington and Geneva; L’Elisir d’Amore in Amsterdam and Piacenza; Anna Bolena in Dresden; and Maria Stuarda in Rome and Macerata. Upcoming engagements include L’Elisir d’Amore in Dresden.
                                                                                                 
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the seven performances of Lucrezia Borgia are scheduled for September 23 (8 p.m.), September 26 (7:30 p.m.), September 29 (7:30 p.m.), October 2 (2 p.m.), October 5 (7:30 p.m.), October 8 (8 p.m.), and October 11 (8 p.m.), 2011.
 
Lucrezia Borgia Events
San Francisco Opera Guild will present an Insight Panel Discussion featuring members of the cast and production team from Lucrezia Borgia. The discussion will take place on Monday, September 19 at 6 p.m. in the Green Room 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.
 
Renée Fleming will be signing copies of her CDs in the lobby of the War Memorial Opera House after the October 2 performance at approximately 5:15 p.m.

 
City Arts & Lectures presents "Renée Fleming in Conversation with Steve Winn" on October 6 at 8 p.m in the Herbst Theater at the War Memorial Veterans Building. Tickets are priced from $17 to $27 and are available at cityarts.net.
 
Tickets and Information
Tickets for the performance of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia are priced from $30 to $389 and may be purchased at sfopera.com 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.
All performances will feature an informative Opera Talk by Italian conductor, composer and educator, Giancarlo Aquilanti. 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 bart.gov and sfmuni.com.
Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about Lucrezia Borgia and San Francisco Opera’s 2011–12 season, please visit sfopera.com.