by Giacomo Puccini
This evening of one-acts is like a lavish three-course dinner, prepared by a master and promising something for everyone's taste. Not since 1952 had San Francisco audiences had the rare opportunity to enjoy this unique work the way its creator intended—in its entirety and with an ideal cast. “Smartly directed by James Robinson and conducted with sweeping lyricism by Patrick Summers” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Soprano Patricia Racette, whose many San Francisco Opera triumphs include her incisive portrait of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly,“tackled all three soprano roles…and emerged triumphant” (San Francisco Chronicle). In the three diverse soprano roles, “Racette modulated the quality and tone of her radiant, muscular sound accordingly. The title role in Suor Angelica is the real soprano showcase, a virtuoso exercise in both soaring vocalism and emotional specificity, and Racette rose superbly to the challenge.”
“The great baritone Paolo Gavanelli returned in two key roles, as the cuckolded bargeman in ‘Tabarro’ and as Gianni Schicchi, and both times he commanded the stage. Brandon Jovanovich brought his bright, lustrous tenor and enormous sex appeal to Luigi, the lover in ‘Tabarro,’ and contralto Ewa Podleś made a magisterial Company debut as the stony-hearted Princess in Suor Angelica” (San Francisco Chronicle).
“Triumphant and Thrilling!” –San Francisco Chronicle
“The all-star singing and acting begin with the opening Il Tabarro and never let up…. First-rate music-making throughout!” –San Francisco Classical Voice
The Magic Flute
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Filled with ritual and symbolism, Mozart’s final masterpiece is a playful but profound look at man's search for love and his struggle to attain wisdom and virtue. From the virtuosic arias of the Queen of the Night to the folksong-like melodies of the bird catcher Papageno, the full range of Mozart's miraculous talent is on display in this magical fairy-tale opera, “designed gloriously by Gerald Scarfe” (San Francisco Examiner).
Donald Runnicles conducts an enchanting cast headed by soprano Dina Kuznetsova, who is “a poignant Pamina, her dark, sumptuous tone lending an air of majesty to the performance“ (San Francisco Chronicle); and the lauded lyric tenor Piotr Beczala, who “seems born for Tamino” singing with a voice “exactly of the right weight and timbre…. Hungarian soprano Erika Miklósa is superb as Queen of the Night…not only nailing the impossibly demanding coloratura acrobatics, but singing it beautifully as well” (San Francisco Examiner). As Papageno, Christopher Maltman is unmatched in his ”vocal brio and theatrical flair…there was no resisting a performance this resplendent. [His] singing is impossibly rich, with a wealth of tonal color and plenty of easy power” (San Francisco Chronicle).
"Spectacularly Sung, Visually Enchanting!” –San Francisco Examiner
"A feast for the eyes.”–Contra Costa Times
“The performance, musically and dramatically, was splendid!” –San Francisco Classical Voice
In Verdi's masterful adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, a great warrior discovers the one weapon against which he has no defense—his own jealousy.
South African tenor Johan Botha, “endowed with a bright, ringing sound and enough power to project effortlessly even over a full-strength orchestra” (San Francisco Chronicle), sings the title role. Bulgarian soprano Zvetelina Vassileva in her portrayal of Desdemona, the faithful wife who finds facts are no match for manufactured suspicion, “sings with flawless, rich Italianate sound, and graceful phrasing” (San Francisco Classical Voice). Italian baritone Marco Vratogna gives “an arrestingly dark and charismatic” portrait of the villain Iago, with singing that’s ”beautifully controlled and dramatically on point” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Music Director Nicola Luisotti “seems to have been born to conduct Otello. Through the storms, waves of sound, orchestra and chorus joining in raging passages, he maintains flawless momentum and exemplary balance” (San Francisco Examiner).
"Red-Hot Otello!” –San Francisco Examiner
“Viva Verdi! Via Luisotti!” –San Francisco Classical Voice
“With Verdi’s impassioned, gloriously melodic and rhythmically exciting music, the great opera received royal treatment in the War Memorial.”
Considered scandalous when it premiered a century ago with its provocative "Dance of the Seven Veils," Richard Strauss' adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play has not lost its ability to shock. Set in Biblical times, this erotically charged opera centers on a tangled triangle: the persecuted John the Baptist, a lecherous King Herod and the monarch's pathologically seductive stepdaughter, Salome.
German soprano Nadja Michael is "mesmerizing throughout" in the title role (The New York Times), opposite bass-baritone Greer Grimsley “as a thunderous and dramatically compelling Jokanaan, [and] tenor Kim Begley is a magnificent Herod, singing with precision and tonal brilliance" (San Francisco Chronicle). Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducted "with flair and muscle. The orchestral playing was powerful and richly colored" (San Francisco Chronicle). Co-directed by Seán Curran and James Robinson.
“All the zesty blood lust of a good vampire movie…bravely and marvelously macabre!” –The New York Times
“Dancing Salome sets stage afire [in] this fluid and wonderfully kinetic production!” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Stunning…Brilliant!” –San Francisco Examiner
"The Demented and the Divine...A Must-See!" –San Francisco Classical Voice