Release date: 1/25/2013

San Francisco Opera Presents Summer 2013 Season June 5 to July 7, War Memorial Opera House

New production of Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann starring Matthew Polenzani and Natalie Dessay opens the Summer Season June 5

Mozart's Così fan tutte conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, opens June 9

World Premiere of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene starring Sasha Cooke and Nathan Gunn opens June 19

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San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2013 Season opens June 5 with the San Francisco debut of a dynamic new co-production of Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d'Hoffmann starring Matthew Polenzani, Natalie Dessay, Alice Coote and Christian Van Horn.  The season continues with Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducting Mozart’s whimsical Così fan tutte featuring Ellie Dehn, Heidi Stober, Francesco Demuro, Christel Lötzsch and Philippe Sly.  Highlighting the Summer Season is the June 19 world premiere of Mark Adamo’s highly anticipated new opera, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, starring Sasha Cooke, Nathan Gunn, Maria Kanyova and William Burden.  Drawing from the texts of and research on the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels (some recently discovered), Adamo’s provocative and thought-provoking new work reimagines the story of the New Testament and the relationship between Jesus and his female disciple Mary Magdalene. 
Commissioned by General Director David Gockley, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is one of three Company commissions premiering in 2013, including Nolan Gasser/Carey Harrison’s The Secret Garden (March 2013) and Tobias Picker/J.D. McClatchy’s Dolores Claiborne, based on the Stephen King novel (September 2013).  The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is among seven operas San Francisco Opera has commissioned under David Gockley’s leadership since his appointment in 2006.  They also include Appomattox (2007), The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2008), Heart of a Soldier (2011), and Marco Tutino’s La Ciociara (Two Women), slated for June 2015, which marks the 40th commission of Gockley’s career.
Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann) – Jacques Offenbach
Jaques Offenbach’s melodic masterpiece Les Contes d'Hoffmann follows a sensitive poet as he searches fruitlessly for love.  Distinguished American lyric tenor Matthew Polenzani sings the title role opposite renowned French soprano Natalie Dessay, who captivated San Francisco audiences in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor in 2008 and returns to appear as Antonia.  Ms. Dessay, who originally planned to sing the three additional soprano roles of Olympia, Giuletta, and Stella, has decided to concentrate solely on the role of Antonia.  San Francisco Opera’s presentation will now include Korean soprano Hye Jung Lee, who recently thrilled Bay Area audiences as Madame Mao in Nixon in China, as Olympia; American mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts in her Company debut as Giulietta; and Adler Fellow soprano Jennifer Cherest as Stella.  Celebrated English mezzo-soprano Alice Coote, who recently appeared to critical acclaim in the Company’s new production of Massenet’s Werther, makes her role debut as Nicklausse.  American bass Christian Van Horn returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage for his role debut as the four villains.  The opera “dream team” assembled for this new co-production with Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu and L’Opéra National de Lyon features conductor Patrick Fournillier, director and costume designer Laurent Pelly and scenic designer Chantal Thomas.
Così fan tutte – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
An ingenious mix of hilarious farce and poignant drama, Mozart’s Così fan tutte, set to a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, follows two young soldiers who disguise their identities to test their lovers’ fidelity. The strong ensemble cast—entirely composed of artists making stage role debuts—is led by two sopranos who have made notable contributions to San Francisco Opera’s past two seasons: Ellie Dehn as Fiordiligi and Heidi Stober as Despina.  Appearing alongside them are Sardinian tenor Francesco Demuro as Ferrando, Christel Lötzsch as Dorabella and Adler Fellow Philippe Sly as Guglielmo.  Italian bass Marco Vinco returns as Don Alfonso.  Former Adler Fellow Susannah Biller is Despina in the final two performances.  Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts and Jose Maria Condemi directs this whimsical San Francisco Opera/Opéra de Monte-Carlo co-production by John Cox, designed by Robert Perdziola, last seen here in 2004.  This production marks the final opera in the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy to be led by Nicola Luisotti following Le Nozze di Figaro in 2010 and Don Giovanni in 2011.
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene – Mark Adamo
Mary Magdalene was long dismissed as a minor figure in Christian lore until, in 1948, archaeologists discovered a trove of alternate versions of Gospels that argued she may not only have been Jesus’ closest companion, but also his most respected and esteemed disciple.  The resulting controversy has inspired and inflamed Western culture for the past sixty years.  Now Mark Adamo, the composer-librettist of internationally acclaimed operas Little Women and Lysistrata, approaches the debate with a new grand-scale opera, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.  Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, the opera stars Sasha Cooke as Mary Magdalene and Nathan Gunn as Yeshua (Jesus).  The resplendent cast also features soprano Maria Kanyova as Miriam (the mother of Yeshua) and William Burden as the apostle Peter.  Director Kevin Newbury, lauded for his “imagination and emotional nuance” (The New York Times), and conductor Michael Christie both make their San Francisco Opera debuts with this production.  
Unlike stories such as The Da Vinci Code, which is based on medieval myth, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is supported by six years of Adamo’s own research into ancient texts and modern biblical scholarship.  Adamo has written a libretto that scrutinizes Christian scripture and transforms it into an alternate history of sorts.  Played out through human characters struggling with the role of sexuality in a patriarchal world, the opera reimagines a neglected, yet pivotal, female character who was traditionally (and erroneously) labeled as a prostitute but who, amidst the contentious religious politics of the time, was able to show Jesus the moral dignity of women.  Composed for a cast of 25 solo roles, a chorus of 48, and an orchestra of 65 in two acts, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene will run for seven performances from June 19 through July 7, 2013 and marks Adamo’s debut with San Francisco Opera.
In conjunction with the world premiere of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, San Francisco Opera will partner with a variety of cultural and educational institutions to present related ancillary events including lectures and panel discussions with cast and creative team members, and seminars exploring the fascinating figure of Mary Magdalene.  A complete schedule of events will be announced at a later date.