Release date: 8/4/2014

San Francisco Opera Opens 92nd Season with Bellini's Norma
Conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti
September 5-30, War Memorial Opera House

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky Stars in the Title Role

New Production Premiere Directed by Kevin Newbury

Photos Available
San Francisco Opera’s 2014–15 Season opens September 5, 2014 with a dramatic new production of Vincenzo Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece Norma, starring American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in one of opera’s most dazzling and demanding roles. American mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas is the young priestess Adalgisa; Italian tenor Marco Berti is Pollione; and American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is Oroveso. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus and Director Kevin Newbury and set designer David Korins return to San Francisco Opera to premiere this vivid, large-scale new co-production with Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Norma runs for seven performances through September 30.
Bellini’s Norma tells the story of a Druid high priestess who betrays her people by falling in love with an occupying Roman soldier, only to be betrayed herself; her conflicted state of mind threatens the lives of the innocent and guilty alike. American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky recently added this iconic title role to her repertoire and her 2013 performances at the Metropolitan Opera garnered her enthusiastic praise: “[Radvanovsky] earned a thunderous ovation. . .her top notes ringing and powerful, her middle range velvety, her coloratura nimble and phrasing elegant. (New York Times)” She will reprise the role in 2015 in this production at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu and will also bring the role to Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. A touchstone role for many of the world’s greatest sopranos, Radvanovsky will join a list of luminaries—including Joan Sutherland, Shirley Verrett and Carol Vaness—who have performed Norma on the War Memorial Opera House stage. Sondra Radvanovsky made her San Francisco Opera debut as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore in 2009. 
American mezzo-soprano Daveda Karanas returns to San Francisco Opera for her first performances of the young priestess Adalgisa. Karanas has appeared in seven Company productions, including as Waltraute and the Second Norn in Wagner’s Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung as part of San Francisco Opera’s highly-acclaimed 2011 Ring cycle. Of those performances, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Karanas can unleash a powerhouse of sound when she needs to. But her finest showing came in the more intimate passages. . .which she delivered with tender eloquence.” Daveda Karanas will return to the Company in June 2015 to make her role debut as Cassandre in three performances of Berlioz’s epic saga Les Troyens.
Italian tenor Marco Berti returns to San Francisco as Pollione, the Roman proconsul who secretly fathers Norma’s children. He has performed Pollione previously at Turin’s Teatro Regio and will reprise the role at Zurich Opera in January 2015. hailed his debut performance of the role as “enthralling, virile and authentically passionate.” In demand worldwide for his Cavaradossi (Tosca), Calaf (Turandot) and Radames (Aida), his 2014-15 Season includes performances of Tosca at Paris Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin and Aida at the Metropolitan Opera as well as his debut in the title role of Pagliacci at Milan’s La Scala.
American bass-baritone Christian Van Horn is leader of the Druids and Norma’s father Oroveso. He returns to the Bay Area following the great success of his portrayal of the four villains in San Francisco Opera’s 2013 production of Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann). San Francisco Classical Voice reported, “Impressive, in the major role he deserves, is the towering Christian Van Horn. With a strong, bright voice [with] thrilling natural resonance. . . Van Horn’s opening night performance was the personification of unshakable evil from first note to last.” Van Horn appears in six mainstage San Francisco Opera productions in the 2014–15 season, including Norma, Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), La Cenerentola (Cinderella), La Bohème, Les Troyens (The Trojans) and La Ciociara (Two Women); he has previously sung the role of Oroveso at Munich’s Bavarian State Opera.
San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this production. At San Francisco Opera, Luisotti most recently conducted Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Other recent appearances include a new production of Otello with Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, where he is also music director, and Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. This season at San Francisco Opera, Maestro Luisotti will also conduct Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball) and the world premiere of Italian composer Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara (Two Women).
Kevin Newbury directs this new production premiere, with sets designed by David Korins and costumes designed by Jessica Jahn. Inspired by mythology and the ancient landscape of Gaul, Newbury describes his production as “rooted in the stone age with a contemporary slant.” David Korins’ sets maintain many of the expected traditional settings in the opera, such as the forest grove and the Temple of Irminsul, and infuses them with a magical energy deeply rooted in the cultural rituals of the time. Jessica Jahn’s costumes aim to illuminate how the Romans saw the Druid culture and how the Druids perceived the Romans. The wardrobe puts a modern twist on ancient designs heavily influenced by research into the pottery, art, stonework and metalwork of the Gallic region.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the seven performances of Norma are scheduled for September 5 (8 p.m.), September 10 (7:30 p.m.), September 14 (2 p.m.), September 19 (7:30 p.m.), September 23 (7:30 p.m.), September 27 (7:30 p.m.) and September 30 (7:30 p.m.), 2014.
Tickets for performances of Bellini’s Norma at the War Memorial Opera House are priced from $30 to $370 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.
            Please note that all evening performances of Norma will have a curtain time of 7:30 p.m except the September 5 season opening night performance, which begins at 8 p.m. The September 14 matinee performance will begin at 2 p.m.
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 Norma and San Francisco Opera’s 2014–15 Season, please visit