San Francisco Opera Opens 96th Season With Double Bill of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, September 7-30

Release date: 9/6/2018    


 José Cura's Production Unites the Frequently-Paired Italian Works as a Continuous Story Set in Buenos Aires

Italian Conductor Daniele Callegari Makes Company Debut Leading a Cast of Ekaterina Semenchuk, Lianna Haroutounian, Roberto Aronica, Marco Berti, David Pershall and Dimitri Platanias

CAV-PAG.pdf Photos Available

San Francisco Opera’s 2018–19 Season opens Friday, September 7 with the double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (or Cav/Pag), and opening night galas hosted by San Francisco Opera Guild and the BRAVO! CLUB. Italian conductor Daniele Callegari makes his Company debut leading an International cast in José Cura’s production, staged in revival by fellow Argentine Jose Maria Condemi. Opening weekend festivities inaugurating the Company’s 96th season continue Saturday, September 8, with Gaetano Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux and on Sunday, September 9, with San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park, the annual free concert in Golden Gate Park celebrating the new opera season.

Mascagni’s 1890 one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry) and Leoncavallo’s 1892 Pagliacci (Clowns) depict gritty tales of small-town love affairs, jealousy and retribution that shake their communities. Long paired for their powerful music and dramatic onstage situations, the short Italian works include some of opera’s most famous melodies including the Intermezzo in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio the clown’s tragic soliloquy “Vesti la giubba” in Pagliacci.

Last performed by San Francisco Opera in 2003, the famous double bill returns in the production by acclaimed Argentine tenor José Cura who is also known for his work as a conductor and, in recent years, opera director and designer. Cura’s staging unites the two operas into a continuous narrative set in La Boca, the working-class barrio in Buenos Aires once settled by Italian immigrants and is today known for its colorful row houses and tango performances.

“With both operas sharing the same set,” Cura explains, “the challenge was to establish a socially structured town with its priests, mayor, bartender, barber, grocer, children, etc. So, we see Nedda and the clowns from Pagliacci posting their company poster at the beginning of Cavalleria, as well as Mamma Lucia still managing her tavern, assisted by her waiter, Silvio. But my favorite moment remains the ending: hearing Lucia shouting ‘La commedia è finite.’ It is not just the voice of an old woman, but the voice of Earth, the voice of creation, shouting ‘Basta!’ (‘Enough!’) to the entire world.”

After thrilling performances at San Francisco Opera in Verdi’s Luisa Miller and Aida, Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk returns as Santuzza, the abandoned heroine of Cavalleria Rusticana. Her errant lover, Turiddu, is performed by Italian tenor Roberto Aronica. Acclaimed Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias makes his United States debut in the dual leading roles of Alfio in Cav and Tonio in Pag. Mezzo-soprano Jill Grove portrays Mamma Lucia and mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm is Lola.

The cast of Pagliacci features Italian tenor Marco Berti as Canio, the actor whose personal travails have tragic reverberations on the stage. Admired for her recent performances of the leading roles in Puccinis Tosca and Madama Butterfly on the War Memorial Opera House stage, Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian adds Nedda to her repertory. American baritone David Pershall sings the role of Nedda’s lover Silvio and New Zealand tenor and second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Amitai Pati is Beppe. Callegari leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, the latter of which was prepared by Company Chorus Director Ian Robertson.

The production, which premiered at Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège in 2012 and was revived at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, is remounted by Condemi and features the work of original director and set designer Cura, costume designer Fernand Ruiz, lighting designer Olivier Wéry, revival lighting designer Justin Partier and choreography by San Francisco Opera Dance Master Lawrence Pech.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the seven performances of the Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci double bill are scheduled for September 7 (8 p.m.), September 12 (7:30 p.m.), September 16 (2 p.m.), September 19 (7:30 p.m.), September 22 (7:30 p.m.), September 28 (7:30 p.m.) and September 30 (2 p.m.), 2018.

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