Release date: 7/14/2011

San Francisco Opera announces details on September 11, 2011 Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park, the City's civic observance commemorating 10th anniversary of 9/11

Presented by the San Francisco Chronicle with the participation of the Office of San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, in cooperation with the San Francisco Interfaith Council

Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists in a program featuring Mozart's Requiem and works by Arlen, Barber, Bernstein, Copland, Christopher Theofanidis and John Williams

Photos Available
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 14, 2011) — San Francisco Opera today announced that the Company’s annual free Opera in the Park concert at Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park, on Sunday, September 11 at 2 p.m., has been recognized as the City and County of San Francisco’s civic observance commemorating the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
Presented by the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Opera, with the participation of the Office of the Mayor of San Francisco, the Honorable Edwin M. Lee, in cooperation with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, this year’s special Opera in the Park concert will honor the memory of those who perished on 9/11 and celebrate the service and heroism of the Bay Area’s first responders including firefighters, paramedics and police, among others. The concert follows the September 10 world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera commissioned by San Francisco Opera in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and acclaimed soloists from the Company’s Fall 2011 Season in a concert featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s masterpiece, the Requiem in D minor, and inspirational works by American composers Harold Arlen, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and John Williams, as well as music by Christopher Theofanidis, the award-winning composer of Heart of a Soldier. During the Mozart Requiem, musical movements will be interspersed with meditational texts read by members of the broad religious community that comprise the San Francisco Interfaith Council.
San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley will serve as master of ceremonies and will be joined on stage by a roster of distinguished political, interfaith and civic dignitaries offering remarks on this national day of remembrance. This event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Complete program and artist information will be announced at a later date.
“This year’s Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 11 coincides with the tenth anniversary of the infamous 9/11 attacks,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “The evening before, on Saturday, September 10, the Company will give the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, an opera we commissioned based on a true story of a courageous man who, on that fateful day of 9/11, displayed extraordinary heroism, leadership and self-sacrifice in order to save the lives of more than 2,700 individuals. Our musical programming for the park concert will follow this theme as we respectfully mourn the loss of so many lives but also pay homage to our very own first responders. I am proud of our partnership with Mayor Lee and his recognition of this musical event as the City’s official civic observance, in addition to the participation and guidance of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and the on-going support of our Opera in the Park presenting sponsor, the San Francisco Chronicle. We invite the Bay Area to join us on this day of community remembrance and celebration.”
“San Francisco Opera has created a fitting tribute to remember the tragedy of 9/11,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “San Francisco will never forget the men and women that died on that tragic day nearly a decade ago, and although our City is on a different American shore and far from the terrorist events, we stand united with our fellow Americans as we honor the memories of those who perished.”
San Francisco Interfaith Council Executive Director Michael Pappas commented, “Immediately after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, former Mayor Willie Brown turned to the San Francisco Interfaith Council to bring people of our City’s diverse faiths together for prayer and solidarity. Now, ten years later, the Interfaith Council is grateful to Mayor Lee and San Francisco Opera for this uniquely San Franciscan occasion to remember those who died in the attacks, to honor the first responders and to reflect upon lessons learned over the last decade, not the least of which is the need for civil discourse. It is our collective hope that this civic observance will inspire all who will gather to sow the seeds of peace in our City and the world.”
San Francisco Opera will also host on the Company’s website,, a calendar of Bay Area community events commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Interested organizations are invited to submit their calendar listings to
A beloved Bay Area tradition, San Francisco Opera’s free annual Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park draws thousands of music lovers and families each year, many of whom enjoy the occasion with elaborate picnics on the Sharon Meadow lawn. Established by former San Francisco Opera General Director Kurt Herbert Adler in 1971 to celebrate the opening of the Company’s fall season, this concert marks the 38th Opera in the Park concert [there were no presentations in 1972, 1974 and 1990]. 
Opera in the Park is presented as part of San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2011 season-opening weekend. The Company opens its 89th season on Friday, September 9 with a gala performance of Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece, Turandot, in a lavish production designed by renowned artist David Hockney and conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti.
On Saturday, September 10, San Francisco Opera will unveil the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna Di Novelli. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Heart of a Soldier is based on the critically acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart and the life stories of Susan Rescorla, Rick Rescorla and Daniel J. Hill.
A story of war, love, friendship and heroism, Heart of a Soldier reflects on the extraordinary true story of Rick Rescorla, a man trained to be a consummate soldier who gave up his own life saving thousands in the attacks on September 11, 2001. The cast features baritone Thomas Hampson, tenor William Burden and soprano Melody Moore. Francesca Zambello will direct this world premiere production and San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Six additional performances will be presented through September 30 at the War Memorial Opera House.
San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park is made possible, in part, by Opening Weekend Grand Sponsor Diane B. Wilsey.  Additional support provided by the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund and Kaiser Permanente.
About the San Francisco Interfaith Council:
The San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) was founded 22 years ago in response to the immediate needs posed in the aftermath of the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the City’s homeless crisis. Disaster preparedness training for congregations and hosting San Francisco’s Interfaith Winter Shelter continue to be two of SFIC’s driving missions. The SFIC plays an integral convening and communicating role for the interfaith community and counts as its constituents the City’s 800 congregations, their respective judicatories and faith-based social service agencies. Celebrating our diverse faith and spiritual traditions, the SFIC brings people together to build understanding and serve our community.  
For more information about Opera in the Park 2011, visit