San Francisco Opera Presents Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) in New Production by Director Michael Cavanagh

Release date: 10/03/2019    


Beginning of a Multi-Year Project to Unveil the Collaborations of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte as a Trilogy Set in an American Manor House

Hungarian Conductor Henrik Nánási Returns to Lead International Ensemble Including Michael Sumuel, Jeanine De Bique, Levente Molnár, Nicole Heaston and Serena Malfi

NOZZE DI FIGARO.pdf   Photos Available

San Francisco Opera presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) in a new production by director Michael Cavanagh at the War Memorial Opera House, October 11–November 1. The production marks the beginning of a multi-year project to weave together Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte’s three operas—Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni—as a trilogy set within an American manor house during three time periods. Conductor Henrik Nánási leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and an international cast in this enduring comic masterpiece.

The Marriage of Figaro had its world premiere in Vienna in 1786 and was the first of the three collaborations by Mozart and Da Ponte. Based on the revolutionary French play by Beaumarchais, the opera features humanist themes, comic situations and a brilliant, tuneful score that continues to move audiences centuries after the first performance. The Marriage of Figaro is in the repertory of nearly every opera company and was the first of Mozart’s works to be staged by San Francisco Opera (1936).

Canadian director Michael Cavanagh, whose San Francisco Opera credits include Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, John Adams’ Nixon in China and Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, sets The Marriage of Figaro around the time of the opera’s composition, relocating Count Almaviva’s palace in Seville to early America. He said, “The Marriage of Figaro is all about new beginnings. Our production takes place at the heart of a post-revolutionary America, a world of vast possibility for some, but great resentment and resistance for others. The setting is a house and a nation under construction, representing a hopeful future in which people strive to express their individual freedom within a framework of responsibility to each other.”

The production’s house setting is designed by Erhard Rom who took inspiration from early American structures. Costume designer Constance Hoffman clothes the characters in early post-revolutionary fabrics and fashions. Jane Cox, whose theatrical work has won acclaim on Broadway, is the lighting designer.

American bass-baritone Michael Sumuel made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2011. After turns as Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen and Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, he returns to take on the role of Figaro, the clever servant who must outmaneuver the nobleman of the house before marrying his love. Trinidadian soprano Jeanine De Bique makes her San Francisco Opera and role debuts as Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susanna. De Bique recently won acclaim in Peter Sellars’ production of Mozart’s La Clemenza da Tito at the Salzburg Festival and the Dutch National Opera and made a recent cameo on the Netflix series The OA.

Baritone Levente Molnár appears with San Francisco Opera for the first time as Count Almaviva. An artist who achieved acclaim for performances in Munich, London, New York, Zürich and his native Budapest, Molnár recently portrayed the title role of Ferenc Erkel’s Bánk Bán with the touring Hungarian State Opera. Soprano Nicole Heaston makes her San Francisco Opera debut as the Countess, a role she has performed around the world, including at Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Norwegian Opera, Hungarian National Opera and Boston Lyric Opera. The Boston Globe proclaimed her “a radiant Countess, her warm voice carrying hints of wisdom, mischief and sorrow.” Italian mezzo-soprano Serena Malfi, renowned for her portrayals of Mozart and Rossini heroines at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, brings her “gorgeous, velvety, strong and agile” (Opera News) voice to the role of Cherubino for her first engagement with the Company.

The cast also features San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Natalie Image as Barbarina, mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook as Marcellina, bass James Creswell as Doctor Bartolo, tenor Greg Fedderly as Don Basilio, tenor Brenton Ryan as Don Curzio and Bojan Knežević as Antonio.  Following his “unforgettable company debut” (San Francisco Chronicle) leading Strauss’ Elektra in 2017, conductor Henrik Nánási returns to the San Francisco Opera podium. Recent engagements for the Hungarian maestro have included Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Metropolitan Opera, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera and Madrid’s Teatro Real. Chorus director Ian Robertson prepares the Opera Chorus.

Productions of Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni will follow The Marriage of Figaro in successive seasons to complete the trilogy known as the “Great American House of Mozart and Da Ponte.” All three works will feature the creative team of Cavanagh, Rom, Hoffman and Cox. Così is scheduled for the 2020–21 Season and takes place in the 1930s, 150 years after Figaro, when the same American house has been repurposed as a country club—though the country struggles with economic strife and the winds of war are beginning to stir abroad. Coming in the 2021–22 Season, Don Giovanni will be set in a crumbling shell of the house in which the characters struggle to survive an uncertain and anxious future. Casting for these future productions will be announced at a later date.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of The Marriage of Figaro are scheduled for October 11 (7:30 pm), October 13 (2 pm), October 16 (7:30 pm), October 19 (7:30 pm), October 22 (7:30 pm), October 25 (7:30 pm), October 27 (2 pm) and November 1 (7:30 pm), 2019.

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