San Francisco Opera's 91st season started on September 6, 2013 and finished on July 13, 2014. Eight operas were held at the War Memorial Opera House in 68 performances. The Company concluded Fiscal Year 2013-14 (FY 14) with a deficit of $348,244 on an operating budget of $74,119,493. Total operating revenue for FY14 rose from $30,808,345 to $37,013,042 with income from ticket sales for FY14 at $22,674,340 compared to the prior season (FY13) at $19,785,866. Contributions to the FY14 Annual Fund reflected a slight decrease of less than 1% from the previous year, coming to $36,758,207 in financial support from approximately 7,600 donors.
San Francisco Opera is taking over the Rickshaw Stop for pop-up event entitled "Barely Opera" on March 2, 2015 at 8:00pm. The evening will feature famous arias, Broadway tunes, and more performed by the Adler Fellows. Tickets are 10 dollars, available at Event Brite or at the door.
Tenor Dimitri Pittas (pictured left) will replace Stephen Costello as Michele in La Ciociara at San Francisco Opera. Costello has withdrawn for personal reasons.
Baritone Vitaliy Bilyy will make his San Francisco Opera debut in the role of Miller in Luisa Miller. Bilyy replaces Thomas Hampson, who has decided not to add this particular Verdi role to his repertoire.
Soprano Elizabeth Futral will join the cast of Sweeney Todd in the role of the Beggar Woman.
September 11-27 2015: Luisa Miller
September 12-29 2015: Sweeney Todd
October 8-28 2015: Lucia di Lammermoor
October 20- November 20 2015: The Magic Flute
November 18- December 6 2015: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
November 25- December 9 2015: Il barbiere di Siviglia
December 8-13 2015: Usher House and La Chute de la Maison Usher
May 27- July 3 2016: Carmen
June 12-29 2016: Don Carlo
June 14-July 1 2016: Jenůfa
David Gockley announced his last season at San Francisco Opera today. Leah Crocetto, Michael Fabiano and Thomas Hampson star in Luisa Miller. Gerald Finley is Sweeney Todd opposite Stephanie Blythe. Diana Damrau sings the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor. Greer Grimsley and Brandon Jovanovich sing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Calixto Bieito's production of Carmen features two casts. René Pape is Philip II in Don Carlo. Karita Mattila is Kostelnička in Jenůfa.
* Notes *
An adorable final performance of Rossini's La Cenerentola (Act I, Scene 1 pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) this season at San Francisco Opera was held last night. The cast was brimming with youthful energy. The male chorus sounded solid and executed the choreography with endearing aplomb. Zanda Švēde (Tisbe) and Maria Valdes (Clorinda) were suitably cloddish and funny. Christian Van Horn gave a dignified performance as Alidoro, sounding strong in "Là del ciel nell'arcano profondo." Carlos Chausson impressed as Don Magnifico, his parlando is excellent and his voice quite rich. Efraín Solís charmed as Dandini. René Barbera was a plaintive, earnest Don Ramiro. In the title role, Karine Deshayes sounded ethereal. There were times when it was difficult to hear her, but perhaps this was because of the set, which extends rather far upstage.
The orchestra gave an articulated and rather exciting performance as conducted by Maestro Jesús López-Cobos. There were times when chaos seemed imminent, as in the second act when the woodwinds were out of tune for a few seconds. But for the most part everyone stayed on track. Jean-Pierre Ponelle's production is winsome, the flat white and black set is sweet and the costumes are all rather cunning. The storm scene employs real water and a tiny dog. Gregory Fortner's direction was in keeping with the effervescence of the music.
* Tattling *
Those in Box P for this Thanksgiving's Eve performance were quiet and polite. There was much clatter of dishes from Box X.
* Notes *
A second cast appeared in San Francisco Opera's La Bohème (Ellie Dehn as Musetta, Brian Mulligan as Marcello, Giorgio Berrugi as Rodolfo, and Leah Crocetto as Mimì in Act III pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) on Saturday night. Again, Maestro Giuseppe Finzi conducted an orchestra that sounded grand and vivid, but was often ahead of the singers. The oboe and clarinet gave particularly lovely performances.
Brian Mulligan sounds warm and rich as Marcello. Ellie Dehn is a surprising sassy Musetta, her nice clean voice taking on a certain voluptuousness for this role. Giorgio Berrugi's Rodolfo is not consistent, there are times when it sounds as if he is winding up his voice to hit high notes, and other moments in which he is vibrant and clear. While Leah Crocetto is not the most dainty Mimì, she sounded stunning. Her voice is creamy and her phrasing is exquisite.
* Tattling *
I managed to position myself behind an affectionate and talkative couple at the back of the balcony.
* Notes *
A new production of La Bohème (Nadine Sierra as Musetta, Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo, Alexia Voulgaridou as Mimì, and Alexey Markov as Marcello in Act IV pictured left; photograph by Cory Weaver) opened at San Francisco Opera last night. David Farley's production design consists of fairly flat scenery arranged such that a new scene is revealed with simple rotation of the set. Though not substantial, this did facilitate the graceful transitions between acts. John Caird's humorous direction read well from the very back of the house, the movements may have been hyperbolic when taken closer at hand.
The performance, conducted by Maestro Giuseppe Finzi, sounded a bit rough at first. The volume and speed of the orchestra was overwhelming at times in Act I, but certainly improved over the course of the evening. The harp sounded especially beautiful throughout the opera. The whole orchestra sounded splendid in the finale.
The youthful, attractive cast members looked and sounded perfectly believable in their roles. Hadleigh Adams (Schaunard) was difficult to hear over the orchestra in Act I, but his Act IV performance was poignant. Christian Van Horn sang Colline with tenderness and jocularity. Alexey Markov is a vigorous Marcello.
Nadine Sierra's Musetta is charming. Her voice seemed pleasantly chirpy compared to the darker hues in Alexia Voulgaridou's soprano. Voulgaridou makes for a sympathetic Mimì. Her lower notes sound grounded and her higher ones are secure yet have a nice fragility as is appropriate for the character. Michael Fabiano is a dashing Rodolfo, his bright voice can be slightly brash but is distinctive and warm. His "Che gelida manina" was touching, though the high note had a tinsel-like quality.
* Tattling *
The audience was chatty but enthusiastic. A few watch alarms noted.
* Notes *
Another revival of Tosca (Brian Jagde as Cavaradossi and Mark Delavan as Scarpia in Act III pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) opened last night at San Francisco Opera. Lianna Haroutounian had a fine debut on the War Memorial stage as Floria Tosca. She clearly has an emotional connection to the role and this was palpable even from the very back of the house. Her singing is passionate and her voice has strength yet can be sweet. Cavaradossi suits Brian Jagde, and his gleaming voice was a good match for Haroutounian. On the other hand, Mark Delavan seemed somewhat shaky, especially at first. His Scarpia is certainly gritty and cruel.
The rest of the cast was quite good. Dale Travis is always funny as the Sacristan and Joel Sorensen mincing yet threatening as Spoletta. Adlers Efraín Solís (Sciarrone) and Hadleigh Adams (Jailer) also sang well.
Riccardo Frizza conducted a rapid orchestra that had a lovely transparency of sound. The clarinets and bassoons were particularly wonderful in Act II. The harp sounded clear throughout the performance, as did the strings.
The opera house seemed full and the audience was enthused. This time-honored production, directed by Jose Maria Condemi, is a crowd-pleaser.
* Tattling *
The audience was mostly quiet, but there was a man in the back of the balcony who had to make sure the people around him knew to pay attention to "Vissi d'arte" and "E lucevan le stelle."