Wednesday, January 17, 2018

San Francisco Opera, 2018-19

The season is pretty much what I thought it would be. Orlando Furioso (Vivaldi) turned out to be Orlando (Handel), and I'm fine with that. I'd heard that Brian Jagde wouldn't be singing in SF next season, but no! There he is as Cavaradossi again (he was in the last two bring-ups, Gheorghiu/Racette /Moore and Haroutounian).

I am....sorta dubious about some of this. Matthew Polenzani as Don José? Um. Marco Berti as anything? He "withdrew for personal reasons" after two performances of the 2014-15 Norma, to be replaced by Russell Thomas for the remaining five and was pretty terrible in the last Trovatore, with Sondra Radvanovsky and the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

On the other hand, the winning trio of Radvanovsky, Jamie Barton, and Thomas is back for Roberto  Devereux, and they're joined by Artur Rucinski, whom everybody loved in last year's Traviata.

Nice to see Rusalka back, and of course not in the by-now-moth-eaten Schenk, though why McVicar? Well, we luv him here. I would have preferred to see a production that really digs into the problems with the story, and I bet this does not. Nice cast, though.

I have somehow managed to see repertory staple Cav & Pag only once, back in the 80s; I skipped the last SFO bring-up, which must have been 10 or 15 years ago. I might have to see Tosca owing to Carmen Giannattasio. The bit of the production that got flashed on screen during the ten-minute season announcement looked like....primary-colors Sant'Andrea della Valle.

I vaguely thought that Heidi Stober might be Zdenka, especially after Ellie Dehn was announced as Arabella, and yup. It's pretty nicely cast. Return of Richard Paul Fink!

Again, nice cast for It's a Wonderful Life, which, with its sentimental streak crossed with torturing poor George Bailey, is not exactly a favorite film of mine. I'll see William Burden in pretty much anything and likely he will give a nuanced performance. Sorry not to see Anthony Dean Griffey as Uncle Billy, looking forward to hearing Golda Schultz. (I will say that making the angel female rather than the sad sack incompetent in the movie....might work better.)

I might need someone to explain to me what, exactly, this means, about Carmen: "San Francisco Opera production, originally created by Opera Australia based on the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Norwegian National Opera co-production." We own the physical production but the intellectual property comes from the ROH and NNO via Opera Australia? I'm confused!

Of interest is the conductor lineup: absent a music director, we're getting eight conductors for the season, six of them new to SFO main stage. Patrick Summers (Wonderful Life) and Riccardo Frizza (Roberto Devereux) are the returnees. Bel canto is what Frizza does well, so fine. The debutants are Daniele Callegari (Cav & Pag), Leo Hussain (Tosca), Marc Albrecht (Arabella), James Gaffigan (Carmen), Christopher Moulds (Orlando), and Eun Sun Kim (Rusalka). Kim will be one of the few women to conduct at SFO (previously: Sara Jobin and....anyone else?). (Yes, Karen Kamensek conducted Susannah in 2014, as JSC says in comments. I would have sworn that Jane Glover conducted here, but I cannot find her in the archive.)

I'm going to note that Santa Fe Opera is one of the Arabella production's co-producers, so it will presumably meet their requirements: no traps, no flies. I saw their Albert Herring in LA a few years back, and it was weird to see all the scenery wheeled in from the wings.

Lastly, the season announcement had nothing about Opera Lab or the Wilsey Center and neither does the press release. I have made inquiries.

The whole lineup is after the jump.

CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA by Pietro Mascagni / PAGLIACCI by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Production New to San Francisco Opera

September 7 (8 p.m.), 12 (7:30 p.m.), 16 (2 p.m.), 19 (7:30 p.m.), 22 (7:30 p.m.), 28 (7:30 p.m.),
30 (2 p.m.), 2018

Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège production          
Approximate running time: 3 hours including one intermission

Cavalleria Rusticana
Libretto by Guido Menasci and Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti; based on a story and play by Giovanni Verga
First performance:                                          Rome; May 17, 1890
First SFO performance:                                 September 24, 1927
Most recent SFO performance:                 2003–04 Season

Libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo
First SFO performance:                                 October 6, 1923
Most recent SFO performance:                 2003–04 Season

Cavalleria Rusticana Cast:
Turiddu                                                                Roberto Aronica
Santuzza                                                             Ekaterina Semenchuk
Alfio                                                                       Dimitri Platanias**
Lola                                                                        Laura Krumm
Mamma Lucia                                                   Jill Grove

Pagliacci Cast:
Canio                                                                    Marco Berti
Nedda                                                                  Lianna Haroutounian
Tonio                                                                     Dimitri Platanias**
Silvio                                                                      David Pershall
Beppe                                                                   Amitai Pati

Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Daniele Callegari*
Production                                                          José Cura
Revival Director                                                 Jose Maria Condemi
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus

ROBERTO DEVEREUX by Gaetano Donizetti
Production New to San Francisco Opera

September 8 (7:30 p.m.), 11 (7:30 p.m.), 14 (7:30 p.m.), 18 (7:30 p.m.), 23 (2 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.), 2018

Canadian Opera Company production
Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano; based on the tragedy Elisabeth d’Angleterre by François Ancelot
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes including one intermission

First performance:                                          Naples; October 28, 1837
First SFO performance:                                 October 26, 1979
Most recent SFO performance:                 1979 Season

Elisabetta (Elizabeth I)                                   Sondra Radvanovsky
Roberto Devereux                                            Russell Thomas
Sara                                                                       Jamie Barton
Duke of Nottingham                                      Artur Ruciński
Lord Cecil                                                             Amitai Pati
Walter Raleigh                                                  Christian Pursell†*

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Riccardo Frizza
Director                                                                Stephen Lawless
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps

TOSCA by Giacomo Puccini

October 3 (7:30 p.m.), 7 (2 p.m.), 11 (7:30 p.m.), 14 (2 p.m.), 17 (7:30 p.m.), 20 (7:30 p.m.),
23 (7:30 p.m.), 26 (7:30 p.m.), 30 (7:30 p.m.), 2018

San Francisco Opera production
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the drama La Tosca by Victorien Sardou
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes including two intermissions

First performance:                                          Rome; January 14, 1900
First SFO performance:                                 October 2, 1923
Most recent SFO performance:                 2014–15 Season

Floria Tosca                                                        Carmen Giannattasio* 
Mario Cavaradossi                                          Brian Jagde
Baron Scarpia                                                    Scott Hendricks
A Sacristan                                                         Dale Travis
Spoletta                                                               Joel Sorensen
Sciarrone                                                             Andrew G. Manea
A Jailer                                                                  Christian Pursell

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Leo Hussain*
Director                                                                Shawna Lucey
Production Designer                                       Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting Designer                                             Michael James Clark
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus

ARABELLA by Richard Strauss
Production New to San Francisco Opera

October 16 (7:30 p.m.), 19 (7:30 p.m.), 24 (7:30 p.m.), 28 (2 p.m.); November 3 (7:30 p.m.), 2018

Co-production of the Santa Fe Opera, Minnesota Opera and Canadian Opera Company
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Sung in German with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 3 hours including one intermission

First performance:                                          Dresden; July 1, 1933
First SFO performance:                                 October 29, 1980
Most recent SFO performance:                 1998–99 Season

Arabella                                                               Ellie Dehn
Zdenka                                                                 Heidi Stober
Matteo                                                                 Daniel Johansson*
Mandryka                                                           Brian Mulligan
The Fiakermilli                                                   Hye Jung Lee
Adelaide                                                              Michaela Martens
A Fortune-Teller                                                Jill Grove
Count Waldner                                                 Richard Paul Fink
Count Elemer                                                     Scott Quinn
Count Lamoral                                                  Christian Pursell

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Marc Albrecht**
Director                                                                Tim Albery*
Production Designer                                       Tobias Hoheisel
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus


November 17 (7:30 p.m.), 20 (7:30 p.m.), 24 (2 p.m.), 25 (2 p.m.), 29 (7:30 p.m.);
December 1 (7:30 p.m.), 4 (7:30 p.m.), 7 (7:30 p.m.), 9 (2 p.m.), 2018

Co-commission and co-production of San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music

Music by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Based in part on the film It’s A Wonderful Life™ by permission of Paramount Licensing, Inc., and on The Greatest Gift, a story by Philip Van Doren Stern.
Sung in English with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes including one intermission

First performance:                                          Houston; December 2, 2016

George Bailey                                                    William Burden
Clara                                                                     Golda Schultz* / Kearstin Piper Brown* (12/9)
Mary Hatch                                                        Andriana Chuchman*
Uncle Billy Bailey                                               Keith Jameson*
Mr. Potter                                                           Rod Gilfry
Harry Bailey                                                        Joshua Hopkins*
Mother Bailey                                                    Catherine Cook
Angel Quartet                                                   Sarah Cambidge
Angel Quartet                                                   Ashley Dixon*
Angel Quartet                                                   Amitai Pati
Angel Quartet                                                   Christian Pursell

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Patrick Summers
Director                                                                Leonard Foglia
Set Designer                                                       Robert Brill
Costume Designer                                           David C. Woolard
Lighting Designer                                             Brian Nason
Projection Designer                                         Elaine J. McCarthy
Choreographer                                                 Keturah Stickann
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

CARMEN by Georges Bizet
Production New to San Francisco Opera

June 5 (7:30 p.m.), 11 (7:30 p.m.), 14 (7:30 p.m.), 20 (7:30 p.m.), 23 (2 p.m.), 26 (7:30 p.m.),
29 (7:30 p.m.), 2019

San Francisco Opera production, originally created by Opera Australia based on the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Norwegian National Opera co-production
Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novel by Prosper Mérimée
Sung in French with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 3 hours including one intermission

First performance:                                          Paris; March 3, 1875
First SFO performance:                                 October 1, 1927
Most recent SFO performance:                 2015–16 Season

Carmen                                                                J’Nai Bridges
Don José                                                              Matthew Polenzani
Micaëla                                                                Anita Hartig*
Escamillo                                                             Kyle Ketelsen

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           James Gaffigan*
Production                                                          Francesca Zambello
Associate & Movement Director                Denni Sayers
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps

ORLANDO by George Frideric Handel
Production New to San Francisco Opera

June 9 (2 p.m.), 15 (7:30 p.m.), 18 (7:30 p.m.), 21 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.), 2019

Scottish Opera production
Libretto adapted from Carlo Sigismondo Capece’s L’Orlando, after Orlando furioso by Ludovico Ariosto
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 3 hours including two intermissions

First performance:                                          London; January 27, 1733
First SFO performance:                                 September 14, 1985
Most recent SFO performance:                 1985 Season

Orlando                                                               Sasha Cooke
Angelica                                                               Heidi Stober
Dorinda                                                                Christina Gansch**
Medoro                                                                David Daniels
Zoroastro                                                            Christian Van Horn

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Christopher Moulds*
Director                                                                Harry Fehr**

San Francisco Opera Orchestra

RUSALKA by Antonín Dvořák
Production New to San Francisco Opera

June 16 (2 p.m.), 19 (7:30 p.m.), 22 (7:30 p.m.), 25 (7:30 p.m.), 28 (7:30 p.m.), 2019

Lyric Opera of Chicago production
Libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil, based on the novella Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
Sung in Czech with English supertitles
Approximate running time: 3 hours, 25 minutes including two intermissions

First performance:                                          Prague; March 31, 1901
First SFO performance:                                 November 26, 1995
Most recent SFO performance:                 1995 Season

Rusalka                                                                Rachel Willis-Sørensen
The Prince                                                           Brandon Jovanovich
Vodník (Water Gnome)                                 Ferruccio Furlanetto
Ježibaba                                                              Jamie Barton
The Foreign Princess                                       Sarah Cambidge
The Kitchen Boy                                                Laura Krumm

Creative Team:
Conductor                                                           Eun Sun Kim*
Production                                                          David McVicar
Choreographer                                                 Andrew George*
Chorus Director                                                 Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps


JSC said...

Karen Kamensek conducted Susannah in 2014.

Knowing what the operas were several months ago kinda took some of the fun out of it, but knowing the casting and exact productions is a big part of the excitement for me too and I am overall mostly happy.

Michael Strickland said...

Things that make me happy: Jamie Barton in TWO roles, J'Nai Bridges as Carmen with Gaffigan conducting, Hye Jung Lee in the weird Zerbineta-like role of The Fiakermilli in Arabella, and everything about Orlando and Rusalka. There can never be enough Handel or Dvorak, and the latter features Brandon Jovanovich besides.

Things that I will not be attending: Cav/Pag was shocking and revolutionary when they both premiered (separately) but now they are as stale as Tosca, an opera I hope never have to see again.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Because I've only seen Cav/Pag once, I'll go, but I must admit: I watched part of a Cav DVD a couple of years ago and I was shocked boring it was.

Sigh, Tosca. Maybe I'll go standing room. Curious about the soprano and the conductor. I will skip Carmen, however.

JSC said...

SFCV's piece on the season announcement mentioned that the Taube and Wilsey plans for 2018 are on hold since Ring rehearsals will be using a lot of that time and space.

Henry Holland said...

When a SFO season announcement rivals LA Opera for ZZZZZZ's, that's quite an achievement. Oh well, no reason to go to any of those for me --you'd have to pay me vast sums of money to sit through even 10 minutes of a Handel opera again-- at least I'll save on air fare and the hideous cost of a hotel in San Francisco. :-)

It's hard to believe that this is the same company that has done Lear, Der Besuch der alten Dame, Lulu, Das Verrrantene Meer, Saint François d'Assise, Le Grande Macbre and more "tonal" operas like The Fiery Angel, Doktor Faust, Death in Venice and so on. I get it, the days of having one or two slots for non-standard rep stuff are probably gone forever, but it's disappointing to me nonetheless.

Lisa Hirsch said...

There are three non-standard-rep operas on the schedule, whether they are your style of non-standard rep or not: Orlando, Rusalka, and Wonderful Life. Yeah, I'd like to see a Dvorak opera that is not Rusalka and an opera based on Stephen Jay Gould's "Wonderful Life" might be more fun than the Heggie, but still.

There's also a reason for the more-cautious scheduling. With the decline in subscriber numbers over the last 35 years, they really have got to sell every ticket. Here are David Gockley's numbers on subscriptions in three years:

1980: 165,000
2015: 93,000
2022: 80,000 estimated

In the 80s, when they had that many subscribers and did more operas/year, it was a lot easier to schedule four performances of something VERY unusual. Here's the lineup for 1985-86:

Adriana Lecouvreur
Ballo in Maschera
Billy Budd
La Voix Humaine/The Medium

How much of that schedule would you actually like to see, I mean, besides Lear? The year they did Das Verratene Meer is similar and includes four Rossini operas; <a href=">see this page from the archives</a>.

I think that we may also be at the tail end of Gockley's programming, given the three to five year planning horizon. We don't yet know what Matthew Shilvock's programming will be.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, dammit. Here's the link to the archive with the close-quotation in place.

Darrick Chen said...

Sharing my thoughts on the 18/19 Season....

It is a shame that subscribers have declined so drastically since the 1980s. Could it be costs of tickets? Choice of repertoire? Just lack of interest in opera? I'm sure if SFO knew they would try to fix it.

Anyway, I am disappointed that the casting is so blah for 2018/19. To me there isn't any major or upcoming singer making a SFO debut in the Fall/Summer season. The only production that I think is really well cast is the Roberto Devereux - same lineup that we had for Norma a few years back which was glorious.

That said, I am torn as to whether or not to buy a full season and take friends with me or wait until singles go on sale. I think the casting of the Cav/Pag is very disappointing. It will be nice to hear Haratounian as Nedda, but the two tenors are not my favorites and I missed Semenchuk's Amneris. However, Cav is one of the first operas I really loved. I've never seen a staged performance and it doesn't seem to be given very often so I will go.

I want to see Devereux as I've not seen that one and it's very well cast. Tosca is interesting as its a new production and I'm kind of interested in hearing Giannattasio- I've read some of her reviews. If it were the old production, I think I would wait to hear what the critics say.

I think I'll skip Arabella. I really would love to see this one as Richard Strauss is one of my favorite composers, but I can't get excited by the cast. It looks like the originally cast soprano cancelled and Dehn is taking her place. I know the last time SFO did Arabella, Fleming was cast, but she switched to take over Blanche in Streetcar, so Janice Watson was cast. I have Arabella on my list of operas to see before I die, but Arabella needs a lot of help to sell itself. There is some beautiful music, but long dull stretches in it as well.

Wonderful Life, Carmen, and Orlando are definitely a pass for me. I saw Rusalka when SFO did it last and don't have a need to rush out again; but Jamie Barton and Brandon Jovanovich, whom I like, are singing. I wasn't thrilled with Willis-Sorensen in Meistersinger, but maybe it's wasn't a good fit for her voice.

I hope others aren't as jaded as I am.


Lisa Hirsch said...

Subscriptions are in decline at nearly every performing arts organization in the country. It is not specific to SFO; it's a problem every group has tried to solve. The most likely causes are 1) the number of arts & entertainment options that are out there and 2) a declining preference to commit in advance - that is, greater interest in spontaneous decisions.

The availability of cut-rate tickets from Goldstar has probably also contributed. People wait for discounts rather than buy subscriptions in advance. an interesting theory about Arabella.

The last Rusalka was in 1995! It would not count as rushing out to see this one. ;-)

Darrick Chen said...

Hi Lisa,

Has it really been 22 years since Rusalka graced the stage of SFO? It seems like only yesterday. I certainly remember it, well Renee Fleming in the title role that is. That role fit her voice so well.

Another comment on the audiences at SFO. I remember that when I first started to attend in the 90s, it was very often that house was full and for the more popular operas, sold out. Nowadays it seems a sold out house is the exception. Breaks my heart to tell you the truth.

The other thing I noticed is almost every performance I have attended always ends with a standing ovation - regardless of what was on stage. In the past few years, I have only really been moved 2 or 3 times to stand and applaud - Elektra for sure and Don Carlo from the summer previous. Else, I've felt the performances were good at best and adequate at worse. Must say I haven't encountered a disaster too often. Maybe it's me just being crabby.


OSA Honors English 10 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Hirsch said...

OSA Honors English, not sure why you removed your post (although I think I might have responded to you elsewhere....)

JSC, that makes no sense. The Atrium Theater is free until Ring rehearsals start (probably in mid-to-late April or early May) and it'll be free after the Ring closes. SFO told me that formal planning for Opera Lab is on hold for they hope is a brief hiatus.

I don't get the constant standing ovations myself. I think that there have been a fair number of truly outstanding performances over the years.

The house isn't filling in part because of the reasons I listed above and perhaps because of repertory fatigue. I know people who only go to the REALLY unusual stuff.

Darrick Chen said...

Hi Again Lisa,

Are you buying a full subscription? half? or just selected tickets?

Am torn as to what I should do. Driving down to the Bay Area is getting more challenging and am torn. I feel Devereux and Cav/Pag are musts for me. I can't seem to bring myself to add Arabella as much as I would like to see it before I die. Rusalka is looking better and better.

I would also love to attend the opening night ball at least once to see what its like. But who knows...


Lisa Hirsch said...

I have to see all of the operas because of the open music director position. Haven't decided what to do as far as what I buy. I mean, I really do not want to see Carmen or Tosca again, but I do want to see the conductors and some of the singers.