San Francisco Opera presents Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, September 8-27

Release date: 9/7/2018    


 Director Stephen Lawless Sets Bel Canto Drama of Tudor-Era England in Recreation of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Riccardo Frizza Conducts Stellar Cast Led by Sondra Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton, Russell Thomas and Andrew Manea

ROBERTO DEVEREUX.pdf Photos Available

San Francisco Opera’s 96th season continues Saturday, September 8 with Gaetano Donizetti’s lyric drama Roberto Devereux in the acclaimed production by English director Stephen Lawless which sets the opera in a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza conducts a stellar cast led by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Elisabetta (Elizabeth, Queen of England), mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton in her role debut as Sara (Duchess of Nottingham), tenor Russell Thomas in his first portrayal of the title role, Roberto (Robert, Earl of Essex) and Andrew Manea singing his first leading role with the Company as the Duke of Nottingham.

Set among the intrigues in the court of Elizabeth I, Donizetti’s 1837 romance explores the Queen of England’s fateful choice between duty and love. Roberto Devereux features some of the composer’s most demanding vocal music and is the culmination of his fascination with the Tudor dynasty.

When she performed the title role of Bellini’s Norma at San Francisco Opera in 2014, Sondra Radvanovsky’s performance was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a catalog of operatic virtues” including the aria “Casta diva,” which she “unfurled in elegantly arching phrases that grew in intensity as they billowed higher and higher.” The renowned American soprano makes her highly-anticipated return as the embattled Queen of England, Elisabetta. Radvanovsky made headlines at the Metropolitan Opera when she performed the leading roles in Donizetti’s “triple crown” (Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux) in a single season. As a special attraction during her Bay Area engagement, Radvanovsky will offer a free master class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on Sunday, September 16 at 3 p.m. Visit for more information; reservations are recommended.

Following her recent San Francisco Opera triumph in Wagner’s Ring cycle, Jamie Barton takes to the War Memorial Opera House stage again in her role debut as Sara, Elisabetta’s confidant and rival. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for her “gleaming vocal tone that is evenly produced throughout a large range,” the popular American mezzo-soprano will return to San Francisco Opera in June 2019 as Ježibaba in Dvořák’s Rusalka.

American tenor Russell Thomas portrays the roguish Earl of Essex, titular hero of Donizetti’s opera. Thomas made his Company debut in 2014 as Pollione in Norma alongside the Adalgisa of Jamie Barton and Norma of Sondra Radvanovsky. These performances of Roberto Devereux will see the reunion of this critically acclaimed group of bel canto luminaries. Romanian-American baritone and second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Andrew Manea joins the trio to make his role debut as the Duke of Nottingham. Completing the cast are tenor Amitai Pati as Lord Cecil and bass-baritone Christian Pursell as Walter Raleigh.

Italian conductor and Donizetti champion Riccardo Frizza leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Music director of the Donizetti Festival in the composer’s hometown of Bergamo, Frizza made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2012 conducting Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia with subsequent appearances on the podium for Bellini’s I Capuletti e i Montecchi and Puccini’s Tosca. The production by Stephen Lawless, which was hailed as “absolutely thrilling” by the Toronto Star at its 2014 premiere at Canadian Opera Company, features set designs by the late Benoît Dugardyn who passed in March 2018, costume designs by Ingeborg Bernerth, lighting designed by Christopher Akerlind and choreography by San Francisco Opera Dance Master Lawrence Pech. The chorus is prepared by San Francisco Opera Chorus Director Ian Roberton.

San Francisco Opera’s first and only previous performances of Roberto Devereux were presented in 1979 with a commanding cast headed by Montserrat Caballé as Elisabetta, Carlo Bini as Roberto, Stefania Toczyska as Sara and Juan Pons as Nottingham. After the first performance, Caballé withdrew due to illness and was replaced by Ellen Kerrigan.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six performances of the Roberto Devereux are scheduled for September 8 (7:30 p.m.), September 11 (7:30 p.m.), September 14 (7:30 p.m.), September 18 (7:30 p.m.), September 23 (2 p.m.), September 27 (7:30 p.m.), 2018.

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