Release date: 7/8/2011

2011–12 Season opens September 9 with Puccini’s Turandot conducted by Nicola Luisotti
World Premiere of Heart of a Soldier by Christopher Theofanidis and Donna Di Novelli; company premieres of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia starring Renée Fleming, Handel’s Xerxes and John Adams’ Nixon in China; new production premieres of Mozart’s The Magic Flute designed by visual artist Jun Kaneko and Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Director Gabriele Lavia and set designer Alessandro Camera, new Teatro alla Scala co-production of Verdi’s Attila; revivals of David Hockney’s production of Puccini’s Turandot, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s production of Bizet’s Carmen.
Two concerts of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Nicola Luisotti

Photos Available
SAN FRANCISCO (July 8, 2011)—Single (non-subscription) tickets for San Francisco Opera’s 2011–12 Season, running from September 9 through December 4, 2011 and June 8 through July 3, 2012 at the historic War Memorial Opera House, will go on sale to the public on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10 a.m. Single tickets will be available for David Hockney’s beloved production of Puccini’s Turandot, the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier by Christopher Theofanidis and Donna Di Novelli, the Company premiere of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia starring Renée Fleming, a new production premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Company premiere ofHandel’s Xerxes, Bizet’s Carmen, the Bay Area stage premiere of John Adams’ Nixon in China, a new co-production of Verdi’s Attila with Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, and a new production premiere of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The San Francisco Opera Box Office, located at 301 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 10 for in-person sales or by phone at (415) 864-3330; tickets will also be available for online purchase at  
Cast changes are also announced for Lucrezia Borgia and Attila. Please see the attached calendar for complete updated San Francisco Opera 2011-12 Season repertory information.
Giacomo Puccini’s final masterpiece opens the 2011–12 Season under the baton of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, who conducted this melodically rich, colorfully orchestrated work to great acclaim at London’s Royal Opera House in 2009. This passionate tale of a princess whose cruelty masks her fear of love features some of the composer’s most glorious music, including the stirring anthem “Nessun dorma.” It will be performed by an outstanding cast led by Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin, “the world’s reigning Turandot” (Opera Britannia), in her Company debut; Adler Fellow Leah Crocetto, an “outlandishly gifted soprano” (San Francisco Chronicle); and Marco Berti, “one of the preeminent Italian singers of his generation” ( The striking San Francisco Opera/Lyric Opera of Chicago co-production, featuring David Hockney’s dazzling sets and directed by Garnett Bruce, returns in November led by Giuseppe Finzi with an equally impressive ensemble led by American dramatic soprano Susan Foster and Italian tenor Walter Fraccaro.
The September 9 opening-night celebrations include Opera Ball 2011 and BRAVO! CLUB’s Opening Night Gala. Hailed as one of the City’s premier philanthropic cultural events, Opera Ball raises funds to benefit San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild’s education and outreach programs. On Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., the Company’s annual free San Francisco Chronicle Presents San Francisco Opera in the Park concert at Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park will be a special program commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2001. Complete program information will be announced at a later date. Also in celebration of the new season, San Francisco Opera presents a free live simulcast of Turandot to AT&T Park, home of the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants, at Webcor Builders Presents Opera at the Ballpark on Sunday, September 25 at
2:00 p.m.
San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna Di Novelli, 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. Exploring the themes 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 World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. Starring baritone Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla), tenor William Burden (Daniel J. Hill) and soprano Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla), Heart of a Soldier is directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers. The production team also includes set designer Peter J. Davison, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projection designer S. Katy Tucker and movement director Rick Sordelet. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Heart of a Soldier will premiere on Saturday, September 10, 2011—the eve of the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks.
Soprano Renée Fleming, one of the most acclaimed artists and celebrated musical ambassadors of our time, returns to San Francisco Opera after an absence of ten years for the Company premiere of Donizetti’s melodically rich bel canto masterpiece Lucrezia Borgia. 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), will be joined by mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini), tenor Michael Fabiano (Gennaro) and bass Vitalij Kowaljow (Alfonso d’Este), led by conductor Riccardo Frizza. Michael Fabiano, a grand prize winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions who makes his Company debut with these performances, replaces the originally scheduled Francesco Meli, who has withdrawn from this production. This Washington National Opera production, created for Fleming, marks the Company directorial debut of John Pascoe.
In Don Giovanni, Mozart uses a bold, beguiling blend of comedy and drama to tell the tale of a proud, predatory nobleman and the women who are drawn to him. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast of exciting young singers led by former Adler Fellow Lucas Meachem, who starred asCount Almavivain last fall’s Le Nozze di Figaro, in the title role. Soprano Ellie Dehn, who made her Company debut last year as Countess Almaviva opposite Meachem, is Donna Anna. The cast also features the Company debuts of soprano Serena Farnocchia (Donna Elvira), mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey (Zerlina), tenor Topi Lehtipuu (Don Ottavio) and bass Marco Vinco (Leporello). Noted Italian film and theater director Gabriele Lavia makes his U.S. debut and set designer Alessandro Camera and costume designer Andrea Viotti make their Company debuts in this new San Francisco Opera production premiere.
Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest Handel productions of our time, this visually stunning Olivier Award–winning staging of Xerxes by famed film and theater director Nicholas Hytner (The Madness of King George) marks the Company premiere of one of the best-loved Baroque operas. Clever comedy is intertwined with tender poignancy in a tale of unrequited love and intrigue at a royal court. Patrick Summers leads an outstanding cast featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (Xerxes), countertenor David Daniels (Arsamenes), soprano Lisette Oropesa (Romilda), soprano Heidi Stober (Atalanta), contralto Sonia Prina (Amastris) and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges (Ariodates). Michael Walling directs Hytner’s English National Opera production.
Thrilling but dangerous, the captivating, capricious Carmen is one of the most vivid characters in all of opera. Mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich stars in the title role in this classic San Francisco Opera production of Bizet’s Carmen by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. Aldrich is “an impressive Carmen…who [brings] alluring physique and a rich, healthy voice to this touchstone role” (The New York Times). Tenor Thiago Arancam, fresh from his success in last fall’s Cyrano de Bergerac, is Don José, the man who unwisely falls under Carmen’s spell. Baritone Paulo Szot, a Tony Award–winner for South Pacific and highly regarded for his role in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent production of Shostakovich’s The Nose, makes his Company debut as Escamillo. Jose Maria Condemi directs, and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi leads the final two performances. 
Nixon in China, John Adams’ rhythmically rich recreation of a presidential trip to Beijing has established itself as a great American opera and a work of “clarity, simplicity, and shocking elegance” (The New York Times). A quarter-century after its premiere at Houston Grand Opera under the leadership of David Gockley, this seminal work receives its long-awaited Bay Area stage premiere. In a Vancouver Opera production directed by Michael Cavanagh, the cast features Brian Mulligan, whose rich baritone thrilled audiences in San Francisco Opera’s Faust (2010) and Werther (2010), in the title role. The cast also includes Maria Kanyova (Pat Nixon), Simon O’Neill (Mao Tse-tung), Hye Jung Lee (Madame Mao Tse-tung), Chen-Ye Yuan (Chou En-lai) and Patrick Carfizzi (Henry Kissinger). Lawrence Renes, whose conducting of Adams’ Doctor Atomic won praise from London critics, will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.
In popular imagination, Attila the Hun was a ruthless barbarian, but to Giuseppe Verdi he was a far more complex and compelling figure: a brave, ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts. This new San Francisco Opera/Teatro alla Scala co-production of Attila, which premiered in Italy in June 2011 led by Nicola Luisotti in his La Scala conducting debut, is staged by Gabriele Lavia with sets by Alessandro Camera and costumes by Andrea Viotti. The distinguished cast features legendary Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role; the Company debuts of soprano Lucrecia Garcia (Odabella) and tenor Fabio Sartori (Foresto)—a role shared by Diego Torre for two performances; baritone Quinn Kelsey (Ezio) and renowned bass Samuel Ramey (Pope Leo I). Maestro Luisotti will also lead the San Francisco performances. Lucrecia Garcia and Fabio Sartori replace the previously announced Oksana Dyka and Ramón Vargas, who have both had to withdraw from this production.
Endlessly inventive, charmingly fantastical and utterly unique, Mozart’s The Magic Flute is a profound yet lighthearted tale of romantic love, spiritual transcendence and the beguiling art of birdcatching. The internationally acclaimed ensemble cast is led by dynamic young conductor Rory Macdonald and includes lyric tenor and former Adler Fellow Alek Shrader as Tamino (shared with Nathaniel Peake for two performances), soprano Heidi Stober (Pamina), acclaimed baritone Nathan Gunn (Papageno), bass Kristinn Sigmundsson (Sarastro), and in the opera’s most virtuosic role, Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova, who is “in demand everywhere as the Queen of the Night” (The New York Times). Sung in English, this new San Francisco Opera co-production is created by renowned Japanese-American visual artist Jun Kaneko and directed by Harry Silverstein.
San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances will present two special concerts showcasing Music Director Nicola Luisotti and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. On October 28, 2011, Maestro Luisotti leads an all-Beethoven program featuring Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7. On June 3, 2012, Israeli cellist Amit Peled joins the Orchestra for Boccherini’s Cello Concerto in B-flat Major. Peled has performed as soloist and with orchestras in the world’s major concert halls and gave an acclaimed recital under the auspices of San Francisco Performances in March 2009. The June 3 program also includes Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony and Cherubini’s Symphony in D Major.
San Francisco Opera presents Carmen for Families, a two-and-a-half hour version of this season’s exciting production, in two afternoon performances sung in English on November 27 and December 4, 2011. Opera newcomers will thrill to the captivating music of this ever-popular work featuring the alluring Gypsy girl Carmen, the Spanish soldier who loves her and the brave bullfighter who wins her heart. This production is the perfect introduction to opera for children aged 10 and up. Conducted by Giuseppe Finzi, the engaging young cast of San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows includes mezzo-soprano Maya Lahyani (Carmen) and tenor Brian Jagde (Don José).
Single tickets for San Francisco Opera’s 2011–12 Season go on sale Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 10 a.m. and will be available for online purchase at, through the San Francisco Opera Box Office located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, or by phone at (415) 864-3330. Patrons ordering online seating through the San Francisco Opera website will be able to choose exact Opera House seat locations before completing each online purchase. Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. On Sunday, July 10, the San Francisco Opera Box Office will be open from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Regular Box Office hours are Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. During the performance season, the Box Office is also open on Saturdays 10 a.m.–6 p.m.  
Single tickets for San Francisco Opera’s 2011–12 Season operasare priced from $21 to $389.
Single tickets for the Nicola Luisotti/San Francisco Opera Orchestra concerts on October 28, 2011 and June 3, 2012 are priced from $30 to $85.
Single tickets for the November 27 and December 4, 2011 Carmen for Families presentations are priced from $25 to $90 for adults and $10 to $45 for children.
The September 25 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.
All War Memorial Opera House performances (except the September 9 season opening) feature an informative Pre-Opera Talk 55 minutes prior to curtain. Pre-Opera Talks are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance. Visit for more information.
Opera Guild Preview Lectures are scheduled in communities throughout the greater Bay Area by local Guild chapters. Renowned musicologists lead presentations to familiarize the audience with repertoire from the current season. Admission prices vary. Visit for more information.
Opera Guild Insight Panel Discussions feature renowned artists and personalities from the world of opera, who share their insights and experiences during informal panel discussions. Free to Opera Guild members, $5 for non-members. Visit for more information.
San Francisco Opera introduced OperaVision in Summer 2007 as an innovative way to give balcony audiences a better view of the stage. OperaVision screens, hung from the ceiling of the balcony section at selected performances, provide close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video. English subtitles appear at the bottom of each screen. See calendar listing for OperaVision dates.
The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue. 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 further public transportation information, visit and                                
All casting, repertoire, dates, and ticket prices are subject to change.