San Francisco Opera Presents Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka, in Powerful David McVicar Production, June 16–28

Release date: 5/13/2019    


Maestra Eun Sun Kim Makes Company Debut Leading Cast Starring Rachel Willis-Sørensen Singing the Title Role for the First Time Along with Brandon Jovanovich, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Jamie Barton and Sarah Cambidge

RUSALKA.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera presents Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka at the War Memorial Opera House, June 16–28, in David McVicar’s “thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly executed” (Chicago Tribune) production. The Czech fairy tale opera features a cast headed by Rachel Willis-Sørensen in her role debut as Rusalka, Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, Jamie Barton as Ježibaba, bass Kristinn Sigmundsson as Vodník and Sarah Cambidge as the Foreign Princess. South Korean maestra and Houston Grand Opera Principal Guest Conductor Eun Sun Kim leads the cast and San Francisco Opera Orchestra in her first Company engagement. Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the chorus.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and the novella Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, Rusalka follows the tragic heroine of the title, a water nymph who makes a grave sacrifice to win the love of a human prince. Known in the world’s concert halls for his brilliant symphonies and chamber music, Dvořák dedicated himself to opera late in life and created a masterpiece in Rusalka, which had its 1901 premiere in Prague. Filled with references to Czech folk music and the composer’s stirring, orchestral textures, the opera features many memorable moments, including the title heroine’s Act I soliloquy, “Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém,” or the “Song to the Moon.”

The operatic productions of Scottish director David McVicar, especially Berlioz’s Les Troyens and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, have thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences in recent seasons. Of his staging for Rusalka, which premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune commented: “McVicar has infused his production with the supernatural mysteries and dark humor of Czech folklore, bringing us a world in which pristine nature is progressively despoiled by humankind. This environmental decay runs parallel to the despoiling of the souls of the accursed Rusalka and her lover.” This grand realization of Dvořák’s work features sets designed by John Macfarlane, costumes by Moritz Junge and lighting designed by David Finn. Leah Hausman directs McVicar’s staging in revival and Andrew George is the choreographer.

American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen, whose 2015 introduction to San Francisco Opera audiences as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was declared “a tremendous company debut” (San Francisco Chronicle), portrays Rusalka in her highly anticipated return. Internationally renowned tenor Brandon Jovanovich sings the Prince, a role he has portrayed to great acclaim in Vienna, New York and Chicago. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, about whom New York’s Observer said, “It’s hard to find adjectives superlative enough to describe her voice,” is the witch, Ježibaba.

As Rusalka’s father, the Water Goblin Vodník, Icelandic bass Kristinn Sigmundsson brings his celebrated portrayal, which the New York Times called “a Water Gnome of dramatic range and gravitas.” After winning acclaim this spring in Karlsruhe for her role debut as Chrysothemis in Strauss’ Elektra, Canadian soprano and recent San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow alum Sarah Cambidge takes on the Foreign Princess for the first time. The cast is completed by bass Philip Horst (Forester), mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm (Kitchen Boy), baritone Andrew Manea (Hunter) and current Adler Fellows soprano Natalie Image, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon and, in her Company debut, mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh as the three Wood Nymphs.

Applauded for her performances at Staatsoper Berlin, Frankfurt Opera, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera and Dresden’s Semperoper, Eun Sun Kim made her American debut in 2017 leading Verdi’s La Traviata at Houston Grand Opera, an engagement that led to her appointment as the company’s principal guest conductor. In 2018, Kim led Verdi’s Requiem at the Cincinnati May Festival, becoming the first female conductor in the choral festival’s 145-year history.

Sung in Czech with English supertitles, the five performances of Rusalka are scheduled for June 16 (2 p.m.), June 19 (7:30 p.m.), June 22 (7:30 p.m.), June 25 (7:30 p.m.) and June 28 (7:30 p.m.), 2019.

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