San Francisco Opera Returns to the War Memorial Opera House Stage

Release date: 6/22/2021

 

Eun Sun Kim Opens 202122 Season and Music Directorship Tenure with Puccini's Tosca Starring Ailyn Pérez, Michael Fabiano and Alfred Walker

Kim Leads Beethoven's Fidelio in a Bold New Production by Director Matthew Ozawa Featuring Elza van den Heever and Russell Thomas Along with Homecoming Concert, Adler Fellows Concert and Verdi Tribute

Company's Multi-Year Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy Continues with New Productions of Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni Set in Different Eras of an American House

Season Highlights Also Include Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber, Livestreaming, Free Opera at the Ballpark Simulcast

Tickets Now on Sale - Visit sfopera.com or call (415) 864-3330

San Francisco Opera 2021-22 Season announcement_updated 9.29.21.pdf Photos   Photos - Eun Sun Kim  

San Francisco Opera announced today repertory, casting and reopening plans for its 99th season. Commencing with a performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca on Saturday, August 21, the 2021–22 Season marks the inauguration of Eun Sun Kim’s tenure as Caroline H. Hume Music Director and a reemergence of opera at the War Memorial Opera House, which reopens with newly installed custom seats and accessibility enhancements. For this transitional year, the Company unveils three new productions: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio and, continuing the Company’s Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni. The new season also includes the return of Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s Dream of the Red Chamber, a free Opera at the Ballpark simulcast, multiple concert programs and a new livestreaming option for select performances. 

Kim’s music directorship begins with Tosca, a masterpiece central to San Francisco Opera since it opened the War Memorial Opera House in 1932. Kim will also lead Live and In Concert: The Homecoming on September 10 and returns to the podium on October 14 to conduct a bold new production of Beethoven’s ode to freedom Fidelio, along with the annual Adler Fellows concert, The Future Is Now, and a Summer 2022 tribute to the music of Giuseppe Verdi.

Eun Sun Kim said: “When I was appointed Music Director Designate in December 2019, it seemed certain that the time until I officially assumed the position would fly by. And then, of course, the whole world came to a standstill. I’m so proud of the way the entire San Francisco Opera family has worked to remain resilient during this time—we’ve created new ways to make music together and we’ve encouraged each other in strength. Now this steadfast faith will allow us to finally rejoin the audiences who have so patiently waited for our return to the War Memorial Opera House. I hope this is a joyful moment for our whole community, as we open this new chapter together with a sense of renewed hope and optimism.”

After making “a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance” (San Francisco Chronicle) leading Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka in June 2019, Eun Sun Kim was appointed Music Director Designate in December 2019 in a move the New York Times called “pathbreaking.” The Seoul, South Korea-born Kim will help shape San Francisco Opera’s artistic vision as the Company heads into its second century. San Francisco Opera’s first two general directors, Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler, both regularly conducted performances during the Company’s first six decades. In 1985, Sir John Pritchard was appointed San Francisco Opera’s first music director (1985–89). He was succeeded by Donald Runnicles (1992–2009) and Nicola Luisotti (2009–18). Kim is the fourth music director in the Company’s 99-year history.

San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock said: “Opera gives us opportunities to gather and share in deep, collective, emotional expression. I have never felt more urgently the need for us to gather in this way. We need to be together again, and, on August 21, we will raise the curtain and do just that. But we are not returning unchanged. We emerge with a new music director in Eun Sun Kim! We emerge informed by the bold experiments of the last year, carrying them forward with our new livestreaming program. And we emerge with an even deeper understanding of the power of opera to connect us after the long winter of its absence. 

“That all of our productions this season will be new or recently new to our stage is a testament to the local artisans who built them and to the local community which has supported this Company so magnificently during this year. We will return to the social history of the Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, be welcomed back into the light of liberation with Beethoven’s Fidelio and enter into the great story of imperial China in Dream of the Red Chamber. But first we return to Tosca—the time-honored way that San Francisco Opera reopens, recommits to our community and reemerges with all of the thrilling energy of live grand opera. It is a moment I cannot wait to share.”

WELCOMING AUDIENCES BACK TO THE OPERA HOUSE

San Francisco Opera’s new season will be a transitional year, temporarily offering a reduction in the number of operas and performances to ensure a safe return to the stage. Rehearsals and performances for the three fall productions are scheduled in succession rather than overlapping as in a typical repertory season. This provision, along with other protocols, allows maximum flexibility as the Company and audiences navigate this early period of emergence from the pandemic shutdown. The summer of 2022 will bring the return of repertory presentations (multiple operas presented each week) and in 2022–23 the Company will celebrate its centennial with a full repertory season.

To ensure the health and safety of audiences, artists and employees, comprehensive front and back-of-house safety protocols—developed in partnership with a team of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) physicians led by epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford—will be in place.

During the initial return to the Opera House, inclusive of all Tosca performances, San Francisco Opera has enacted the following policies which the Company will continue to monitor and evolve. For complete details and updates, visit sfopera.com/safetyfirst.

  • Upon entry, patrons will be required to show proof of full vaccination (defined as two weeks after final shot; paper or electronic/photo documentation). 
  • All patrons will be required to wear a face mask while attending performances.
  • Safety protocols include enhanced cleaning practices and availability of hand sanitizer stations throughout the building. Ventilation systems in the War Memorial Opera House meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. All front-of-house and backstage employees will follow rigorous safety protocols including a vaccination requirement.
  • The Box Office will seat one production at a time.
  • Tickets must be purchased in advance either by phone or online; at this time, tickets are not available for in-person purchase.
  • All ticket exchange fees are eliminated for the current season. Exchanges will be accepted up to two hours before the performance.
  • For a touchless experience, tickets will be delivered digitally (print-at-home and mobile). In lieu of printed program books, a digital program will be available. 
  • The Opera is working with the War Memorial and Global Gourmet to offer concessions to patrons, including limited food and beverage service. Plans for pre-opera talks are being developed. More information will be available soon. 

NEW SEATS, ACCESSIBLE SEATING AREAS AND IMPROVED SIGHTLINES

The completed final phase of the War Memorial Opera House seat replacement project, begun in 2013 with the Box and Balcony sections, will be unveiled when the house reopens. All seats within the Orchestra, Grand Tier and Dress Circle sections have been replaced, improving comfort and sightlines within the historic Beaux-Arts theater that serves as home to San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet. The completed project also includes new accessible seating areas, furthering the commitment of the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center and its two resident organizations to maximize accessibility for all patrons. 

While preserving the historic integrity, beauty and acoustics of this cultural landmark, the new custom seats replace seats that were original to the 1932 building and introduce enhancements such as greater leg room and the latest in ergonomic support. For more information, visit sfopera.com/seatupgrade.

SIMULCAST AND LIVESTREAMS

On Friday, September 10, opera lovers, baseball fans and tens of thousands of Bay Area citizens will have the opportunity to celebrate Eun Sun Kim’s arrival as music director together in Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. In partnership with the Giants, Live and In Concert: The Homecoming will be simulcast live from the Opera House to the ballpark’s 71-foot high x 153-foot wide videoboard as the Company’s 13th free Opera at the Ballpark. The Bay Area community is invited to experience this beginning to an exciting new chapter for opera in San Francisco while seated on the baseball field or in the stands at this beloved al fresco event. Registration will open later this summer. For more information, visit sfopera.com/ballpark.

Along with returning to the War Memorial stage, the Opera will share two of its fall productions from Eun Sun Kim’s inaugural season beyond the walls of the Opera House. Offered for the first time in Company history, a livestream option for select performances will enable audiences to experience San Francisco Opera from anywhere in the world. Virtual tickets are available for $25 to livestream the following performances: Fidelio on October 14, 17 and 20; and Così fan tutte on November 21, 23 and 27. For more information, visit sfopera.com/online.

 2021–22 SEASON

Puccini’s TOSCA (August 21–September 5, 2021)

San Francisco Opera’s return to the stage begins on August 21 with Tosca. Puccini’s 1900 work has served the Company and Bay Area community through many significant milestones, including the first season in 1923, the 1932 opening of the War Memorial Opera House, commemoration of the 50th anniversary season in 1972, and the 1997 return after damage from the Loma Prieta earthquake and retrofit measures precipitated a lengthy closure of the Opera House. 

Eun Sun Kim conducts Puccini’s masterpiece with a powerhouse trio of San Francisco Opera favorites who will each be singing their roles for the first time this year: soprano Ailyn Pérez as Tosca, tenor Michael Fabiano as Cavaradossi and bass-baritone Alfred Walker. (Fabiano made his role debut as Cavaradossi earlier this month in Paris.) Shawna Luceyreturns to direct her 2018 staging with production designer Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting designer Michael Clark.

LIVE AND IN CONCERT: THE HOMECOMING (September 10, 2021)

At the War Memorial Opera House and Free, Live Simulcast to Oracle Park

On September 10, Eun Sun Kim will lead Live and In Concert: The Homecoming featuring the San Francisco Opera Orchestra with soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. This special event, which reunites Kim, Willis-Sørensen and Barton from the Company’s unforgettable 2019 Rusalka production, will commemorate the Company’s return to the Opera House. To welcome the Bay Area community into the celebration, the concert will be simulcast live from the Opera House to the videoboard at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, as the Company’s free Opera at the Ballpark.

Opera House attendees for The Homecoming will be invited to a complimentary, post-performance toast in the main lobby. Tickets for a pre-performance reception and post-performance celebratory dinner in the Green Room of the Veterans Building will also be available for purchase to the public beginning August 10. 

Beethoven’s FIDELIO (October 14–30, 2021)

The Fall 2021 Season continues with Beethoven’s Fidelio in director Matthew Ozawa’s new production which updates the opera’s setting from an eighteenth-century prison to a modern government detainment center. Originally scheduled for opening weekend of the 2020–21 Season, the opera’s set was constructed during the shutdown and, last April, reconfigured for a new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville which Ozawa directed at the Marin Center drive-in. For this highly anticipated production of Beethoven’s only opera, Eun Sun Kim conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and a cast headed by Elza van den Heever as Leonore in her long-awaited return to the Company since her debut on the War Memorial stage as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni while still an Adler Fellow. Russell Thomas, last heard with the Company in 2018 as the title role of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, portrays her husband, Florestan. Greer Grimsley is Don Pizarro, James Creswell is the jailer Rocco and Soloman Howard is Don Fernando. San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Anne-Marie MacIntosh (Marzellina), Christopher Oglesby (Jacquino), Zhengyi Bai (1st Prisoner) and Stefan Egerstrom (2nd Prisoner) complete the ensemble. Ozawa’s production features the work of set and projection designer Alexander V. Nichols, costume designer Jessica Jahn and lighting designer JAX Messenger. San Francisco Opera Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the Opera Chorus for the Act I Prisoner’s Chorus and the opera’s finale, two massive scenes comparable to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from the 9th Symphony in cathartic energy and exaltation. 

MOZART-DA PONTE TRILOGY

COSÌ FAN TUTTE (November/December 2021) & DON GIOVANNI (June/July 2022)

San Francisco Opera continues its multi-year project of staging the three operatic collaborations of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte as a trilogy of works set in an American house across a 300-year timespan. The Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, which launched in 2019 with the acclaimed production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set during colonial times, receives its second installment this November with Così fan tutte. The production takes place in the 1930s with the house now converted into a country club and the characters at a crossroads as trouble begins to stir abroad. Next summer, Don Giovanni completes the Trilogy with the house in ruins and its inhabitants navigating a dystopic future. The creative team for the acclaimed Figaro production—director Michael Cavanagh, set designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Jane Cox—return to execute their expansive vision for this trio of foundational operatic works produced by one of history’s great artistic partnerships. 

Mozart’s COSÌ FAN TUTTE (November 21–December 3, 2021)

The new staging of Così fan tutte features an outstanding ensemble cast with soprano Nicole Cabell and mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts as the sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella, and their two beaus, Ferrando and Guglielmo, portrayed by tenor Ben Bliss in his Company debut and baritone John Brancy. Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto is Don Alfonso and, following on her 2019 triumph as the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, soprano Nicole Heaston is the witty instigator, Despina. Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási, who led the Figaro production, returns to the podium for this second installment of the Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy.

Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI (June 4–July 2, 2022)

Don Giovanni is Part three of the Company’s Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy. Internationally heralded conductor Bertrand de Billy makes his Company debut leading a brilliant cast. French-Canadian baritone Etienne Dupuis and Romanian soprano Adela Zaharia join the Company in premiere engagements as Don Giovanni and Donna Anna. Bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni adds his celebrated portrayal of Leporello to his Mozartian credits with San Francisco Opera, while soprano Carmen Giannattasio, who made a sensational debut with the Company as Tosca in 2018, returns as Donna Elvira. Samoan-born tenor and former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Amitai Pati is Don Ottavio, soprano Christina Gansch is Zerlina and Soloman Howard sings the Commendatore.

Sheng and Hwang’s DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER (June 14–July 3, 2022)

The Summer 2022 Season brings a revival of Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s Dream of the Red Chamber, which played to sold-out audiences in its 2016 world premiere run in San Francisco. The work, which has since toured China and Hong Kong, has garnered international acclaim for its musical retelling of one of China’s greatest novels. Tenor Yijie Shi, soprano Karen Chia-ling Ho and mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim from the world premiere cast return to their roles. They will be joined by a group of artists making their debuts. Soprano Meigui Zhang, a 2018 Merola Opera Program participant, takes on the pivotal role of Dai Yu, mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu portrays Bao Chai, mezzo-soprano Sabina Kim is Granny Jia and mezzo-soprano Guang Yang is Aunt Xue. Singaporean maestro Darrell Ang makes his Company debut leading the cast with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in Stan Lai’s “magnificent production” designed by Academy Award-winner Tim Yip with lighting by Gary Marder that “bedecks the stage in vivid ornament while maintaining a suitably dreamlike atmosphere” (San Francisco Chronicle).

EUN SUN KIM CONDUCTS VERDI CONCERT (June 30, 2022)

Concluding the Company’s Summer 2022 offerings, Eun Sun Kim will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and soloists on June 30 from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. This musical extravaganza will feature selections from Luisa MillerDon CarloAidaIl Trovatore and other works by Giuseppe Verdi. Soloists will include soprano Nicole Car, tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz and bass Soloman Howard. Full program and gala details will be announced later.

THE ATRIUM SESSIONS AND ONGOING DIGITAL CONTENT

San Francisco Opera’s free, new digital content initiatives, created in partnership with Lumahai Productions, will expand in September 2021 with the premiere of The Atrium Sessions. These intimate, short-form musical performances, filmed inside the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, feature the talents of San Francisco Opera artists in miniature masterpieces by Claude Debussy, Clara Schumann, Florence Price, Noël Coward and Gabriela Lena Frank, among others. Soprano Rhoslyn Jones, mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm, baritones Edward Nelson and Efraín Solís and bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, all graduates of the San Francisco Opera Center’s training programs, are featured in collaboration with members of San Francisco Opera’s dedicated music staff in the first group of Sessions.

Recently launched digital content, including the In Song video portrait series and the North Stage Door podcast, continue this summer and into the new season. In Song: Jamie Barton, featuring the renowned mezzo-soprano exploring her roots in Georgia’s “The Pocket” and a musical collaboration with bluegrass virtuoso Béla Fleck, will be released in July with future episodes featuring tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz and soprano Amina Edris. The second episode of North Stage Door, which examines the Company’s Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy and the legacy of that historic composer–librettist partnership, will also be released in July. To access San Francisco Opera’s free digital programming and the most up-to-date schedule for future releases, visit sfopera.com/online.

TICKETS AND INFORMATION

Subscription and Single Tickets Now on Sale

Subscriptions to San Francisco Opera’s 99th Season are now on sale via the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330 and online at sfopera.com

As the Opera navigates the return to performance with health and safety protocols this year, temporary changes have been made to subscriptions. Traditional subscription practices will be restored for the centennial season in 2022–23, and 2019–20 Season series and seats will be held for patrons. 

This season, two subscription options are available: a Full Season (5 operas, or 4 operas plus Homecoming concert) or a Mini Season (3 or 4 operas). Full Season subscriptions are priced from $105 and Mini Season subscriptions from $78. Subscriptions purchased by July 22, 2021 will receive an additional 20% off and have access to purchase parking for the Performing Arts Garage.

Currently, seating will occur one production at a time and tickets for each performance will be distributed separately. As the Company returns to full strength during this transitional season, patrons may not receive their usual subscription seats and may not receive the same seats for each performance. San Francisco Opera’s Box Office staff will do their best to accommodate seating requests and appreciates the understanding and patience of its patrons in this transitional season.

Single (non-subscription) tickets for all Fall 2021 performances range from $29 to $398 and are now on sale via the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330 and online at sfopera.com. Single tickets for Summer 2022 performances will go on sale this fall.

To ensure flexibility for patrons in this transitional season, no-fee exchanges will be accepted up to two hours before performances. Refunds will be available if patrons must miss a performance due to COVID. Refund requests must be made at least two hours before the performance.

All tickets will be delivered digitally (print-at-home tickets or mobile tickets). All seating and ticketing policies will be reevaluated following the August–September Tosca performances; as these policies continue to evolve, San Francisco Opera will work to accommodate seating requests as health and safety protocols allow.

For complete information about ticketing and seating policies for the current season, please visit sfopera.com/onstage.

Select performances will be available as livestreams for $25. Information about livestream tickets will be available later this summer. For more information, visit sfopera.com/online.

For registration information about the free Opera at the Ballpark simulcast on September 10, visit sfopera.com/ballpark.

All casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about San Francisco Opera’s 2021–22 Season, visit sfopera.com/onstage.

*For the complete press release, including full casting and calendar, please view the attached PDF.