Monday, August 31, 2015

A Scintillating New Season: San Francisco Opera Fall 2015

I’m looking forward to a very glittering opening night gala and a performance of passionate and elegantly staged ‘Luisa Miller’ at the San Francisco Opera House on September 11.

San Francisco Opera launches a very stimulating and exciting Fall Season that includes favorite classic operas, vivid new productions, witty and frothy entertainment, and a 5 hour and 30 minutes evening of serious, major Wagner.

This is going to be one of the best seasons and most diverse, with Gordon Getty’s new commission, Usher House, and the bubbly ‘Magic Flute’, large-scale productions including ‘Die Meistersinger’ and even family matinees, through June 2016

I have the whole program below—with beautiful, radiant season images, voluptuous and seductive stage sets, and an international roster of performers. Of course, I can’t wait for dreamboat Michael Fabiano to appear on stage as Rodolfo in Luisa Miller. He has been called the young Pavarotti (but better looking). Beautiful voice, so emotive.

See below for a special exclusive selection of images showing performers, costumes, stage sets, and all the style and eccentricity and oversized concepts I enjoy on-stage.

As you know, I’m a lifelong opera fan. My mother was a noted opera singer, and my parents immersed me in music and opera and ballet at a very young age. I was fortunate, indeed.

Opera has enriched my life and inspired my writing and ideas. And, as the great Ray Dolby the sound genius and opera lover once told me when we chatted during intermission, a night at the opera is the perfect time to dream up new ideas, let your imagination roam, and to think and ponder and invent as you watch and enjoy the performance.

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Friedman for San Francisco Opera

I’ve done some sleuthing for you. Here’s an overview of the season. Pick your favorite and quickly book tickets.

The season—starting with Luisa Miller, which has glorious sets and fantastically chic costumes—includes a very broad range of creativity and expression and style. There’s the surprise (Broadway, indeed) of Sweeney Todd, popular staging at its best.

Then it’s onward to the drama of Lucia di Lammermoor. And I can’t wait for Wagner’s Die Meistersinger (which has not been performed in San Francisco for many years), and then Gordon Getty’s new opus, Usher House, and The Fall of the House of Usher

The Magic Flute is pure charm and confection and light-hearted music. Most ardent opera lovers have seen it many times and could almost sing along. I love it.

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera

The Magic Flute – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera
The Magic Flute – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

The Fall 2015 San Francisco Opera season:

Luisa Miller 
September 11–27

Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Musical Thriller 
September 12–29

Lucia di Lammermoor 
October 8–28

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 
November 18–December 6

The Magic Flute 
October 20–November 20

The Barber of Seville 
November 25–December 9

The Fall of the House of Usher: A Double Bill 
December 8–13

Sweeney Todd – Photo by Lynn Lane for Houston Grand Opera

The Barber of Seville – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera 

The Barber of Seville – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

Luisa Miller – Photo by Ken Friedman for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s 2015–16 Season opens with Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic opera of troubled love amidst political corruption, Luisa Miller. Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast headlined by three rising opera stars: American soprano Leah Crocetto as Luisa Miller, American tenor Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo and Ukrainian baritone Vitaliy Bilyy as Luisa’s protective father. Absent from the War Memorial Opera House stage for 15 years, Luisa Miller is presented in Francesca Zambello’s bold San Francisco Opera production, designed by Michael Yeargan and directed by Laurie Feldman.

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps who bring so much style and talent and verve to each production perform all of the operas of the season also.

General Director, David Gockley — photographed by Terrence McCarthy for San Francisco Opera

General Director David Gockley’s Departure

David Gockley, who has been such a fantastically popular and effective general director, is retiring.
“Since 2006, I have been privileged to call San Francisco Opera my home. So much of what I have accomplished here would not have been possible without the unshakable commitment of our loyal patrons, subscribers, board of directors and the nearly 800 talented artists and employees who work to produce the finest quality opera on our stage. I have stacked my final season at this great company to the hilt with some of my most cherished works, including Verdi’s epic Don Carlo, Sondheim’s Grand Guignol horror show Sweeney Todd and Wagner’s colossal Die Meistersinger and in the summer 2016 Janáček’s transcendent Jenůfa”–David Gockley
The 2015–16 season marks David Gockley’s final season as company general director concluding a distinguished ten-year, seven-month tenure with San Francisco Opera. He is also capping an illustrious, award-winning 44-year career, which included more than three decades at the helm of Houston Grand Opera, as one of the most prominent and respected American opera impressarios of his generation.

David will be missed. I commend him and thank him for giving life and quality and emotion and creativity to each opera.

Thank you to David, especially for listening to opera’s devoted fans when he first arrived in San Francisco—and then creating seasons showcasing familiar and beloved operas, as well as a worldly mix of newly commissioned works, family favorites, Wagner summer seasons, froth and laughter, and tragedies. Thank you.

Opera Ball – Photo by Drew Altizer for San Francisco Opera

Opening Night Gala: Highlight of the San Francisco social / cultural season

The opening-night performance of Luisa Miller is held in conjunction with Opera Ball 2015: Moonlight & Music, San Francisco’s premier social event of the year.

The season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 13 in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s Fall 2015 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.

Opera in the Park – Photo by Cory Weaver for San Francisco Opera

Season Overview
Other highlights of San Francisco Opera’s Fall 2015 Season include Michael Cavanagh’s new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau and Piotr Beczala.

Lucia di Lammermoor – Photo by Ken Howard for Metropolitan Opera

I can’t wait for the San Francisco premiere of David McVicar’s production of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, conducted by Mark Elder in his Company debut and starring Greer Grimsley, Brandon Jovanovich, Rachel Willis-Sørensen and Sasha Cooke.

Wagner! It’s a five-and-a-half-hour production. For me, it is not long enough. Wagner’s music takes you away, transports you to great ideas and grand themes. It is always uplifting, even when it is ultimately tragic.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Photo by Robert Kusel for Lyric Opera of Chicago

Everone’s looking forward to the American premiere of The Fall of the House of Usher—a double bill presentation of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Robert Orledge’s reconstruction of Claude Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher—directed by David Pountney and conducted by Lawrence Foster.

Usher House – Photo by Stephen Cummiskey for Welsh National Opera

All fall season evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m., except for the September 11 season opening night performance of Luisa Miller, which will start at 8 p.m., and evening performances of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which will begin at 6 p.m. Fall matinee performances begin at 2 p.m., except for the December 6 matinee of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg which will begin at 1 p.m.

The San Francisco Opera Guild presents Insight Panels on October 6 for Lucia di Lammermoor, November 16 for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and November 30 for The Fall of the House of Usher. These hourlong informal discussions with cast members, conductors and directors begin at 6 p.m. and take place at the Herbst Theater, Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue. More information is available at

The 2015–2016 Season continues next summer, beginning May 27 through July 3, with performances of Bizet’s Carmen, Verdi’s Don Carlo and Janáček’s Jenůfa.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Oper

Relevant and Inventive—San Francisco Opera is Immersed in the Community

San Francisco Opera, one of the jewels in the crown of San Francisco culture, is an American opera company. It is based in San Francisco, California, and performances are presented at the War Memorial Opera House in the city, and other very popular venues, including the city’s ballpark. It was founded in 1923 by Gaetano Merola and is the second largest opera company in North America.

One of the defining features of director David Gockley’s tenure in the last ten years has been his commitment to bringing opera into the community through state-of-the-art technology. One of his first acts as general director in 2006 was overseeing San Francisco Opera’s first free live simulcast to a crowd of 6,000 in Civic Center Plaza. Simulcasts have since occurred at Stanford Stadium, movie theaters across the Bay Area, and AT&T Park—an enduring partnership that has grown into a Bay Area tradition and has been enjoyed by opera fans and baseball fans.

The technology for these simulcasts and other media outreach comes from another of Gockley’s innovations, the Koret–Taube Media Suite. The first permanent high-definition video production facility installed in any American opera house, the Koret–Taube Media Suite gives the Company the permanent capability to produce simulcasts and other projects including the Grand Opera Cinema Series, live recordings of San Francisco Opera productions available on DVD and other media.

Readers of THE STYLE SALONISTE in 149 countries can find these recordings and enjoy them…even in Delhi or London or Lima or Sydney.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera is considered one of the top companies in the world—and it is always exciting to meet opera fans and audience members who’ve come from Sydney or London or Paris or Berlin or Munich for a special performance.

I love to be surrounded by passionate opera lovers, many of whom (like beloved trustee/major patron John Gunn) have been attending their whole life.

I adore seeing music students and performers and multi-generation families and other opera lovers who practically move in to the Opera House for the season. They’re so happy, they radiate. 

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera—if you have not yet had the pleasure of attending a matinee or a lively Friday night or sedate Tuesday night—has been thrilling music lovers since 1923. San Francisco Opera has presented the United States debut performances of numerous artists, including Vladimir Atlantov, Piotr Beczala, Inge Borkh, Boris Christoff, Marie Collier, Geraint Evans, Mafalda Favero, Tito Gobbi, Sena Jurinac, Mario del Monaco, Anna Netrebko, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Margaret Price, Leonie Rysanek, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Giulietta Simionato, Ebe Stignani, Renata Tebaldi, and Ingvar Wixell; conductors Marco Armiliato, Gerd Albrecht, Valery Gergiev, Charles Mackerras, Georg Solti, and Silvio Varviso; and directors Francis Ford Coppola, Harry Kupfer, and Jean-Pierre Ponnelle and many many others. 

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by David Wakely for San Francisco Opera

It’s a truly international company—and every production is enhanced by global talent, from creators of costumes and sets to conductors and musicians and dancers, to singers and even prompts and backstage geniuses like hairstylists, technicians, lighting designers, makeup artists, set painters, dressers.

War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco – Photo by Cesar Rubio for San Francisco Opera

For More Information:
For information and to check programs and the artists, and to purchase tickets, please contact:

PHOTOGRAPHY: All performance and stage/ production images here are used courtesy of San Francisco Opera.

1 comment:

RebeccaHively said...

Would you be willing to suggest the best seats?