Monday, June 10, 2019

Summer Opera—My Passion: San Francisco Opera’s Summer Season Has Just Opened with the Very Classical New Production of ‘Carmen,’ a Dramatic New ‘Orlando,’ and the New ‘Rusalka’ with Some of the Most Poignant Moments and Beautiful Singing in Opera

My Great Pleasures of Summer: Opera is one of my favorite entertainments of summer. I disappear into the beautiful San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, and immerse myself in glorious singing and lively performances and dramatic productions.

Yes, I love the fall/winter opera season in San Francisco. But the summer season—June only—is my stealth pleasure. It’s a very special and a secret thrill. When it’s hot outside, I escape to grand world-class productions, to worlds of imagination, artistry, pure performances, and world-class performers and musicians at their best. The San Francisco Opera orchestra is superb.

This 2019 summer season is rich in creativity, classicism, romance, ethereal worlds and style.

I’m very much looking forward to ‘Orlando’ (new production) with the 25-year-old virtuoso countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen making his company debut as Medoro in Orlando. J’Nai Bridges as Carmen will be extraordinary. Women conductors. A breath of fresh ideas and collaborations. I’ll be seeing all three.

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Special thanks to San Francisco Opera general director, Matthew Shilvock who created this perfect summer series, with new productions and exciting new talent. 

Matthew Shilvock

San Francisco Opera Summer Season 2019: An Overview

Beginning June 5 and continuing through the 29th, San Francisco Opera presents a trio of extraordinary lyric works—Georges Bizet’s Carmen, George Frideric Handel’s Orlando and Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka—featuring powerful leading women in the title roles. 

Spanning three centuries and sung in French, Italian and Czech, the 2019 Summer Season marks the debuts of four conductors, including two women, in productions that are new to the War Memorial Opera House stage.

Performing the title heroines in the 2019 Summer Season operas, each for the first time, are: mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Carmen, and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke takes on Orlando, a role originally composed for the castrato Senesino. Rachel Willis-Sørensen portrays the water nymph Rusalka.

The company’s roster of conductors will be expanded with the debuts of James Gaffigan, Eun Sun Kim, Michelle Merrill and Christopher Moulds.

Michelle Merrill

Michelle Merrill is one of two female conductors to join San Francisco Opera’s roster this season and will be conducting the June 20 performance of Carmen.

Eun Sun Kim

Eun Sun Kim makes her company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in Rusalka. Well-known for her performances in Europe at Staatsoper Berlin, Frankfurt Opera, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera and Dresden’s Semperoper, the fast-rising South Korean maestra made her American debut in 2017 leading Verdi’s La Traviata at Houston Grand Opera. 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.

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen
Photo: Dario Acosta

Exciting News

In a casting update for Orlando, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen makes his Company and role debuts as Medoro. The Brooklyn-born, second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow quickly rose to prominence after being named a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2017. 

J'Nai Bridges as the title role in Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Bizet's "Carmen" with J'Nai Bridges as Carmen (center), Natalie Image as Frasquita, Ashley Dixon as Mercédès and the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Kyle Ketesen as Escamillo with the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Bizet's "Carmen." 
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

David Leigh as Zuniga, Zhengyi Bai as Remendado, Natalie Image as Frasquita, Ashley Dixon as Mercédès (partially obscured) and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Matthew Polenzani as Don José and J'Nai Bridges in the title role of Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Kyle Ketelsen as Escamillo with the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Bizet's "Carmen."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The 2019 Summer Season opens with director Francesca Zambello’s production of Carmen (June 5–29). The popular French work about a free-spirited woman and her besotted lover stars mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges in her professional role debut as the title heroine and tenor Matthew Polenzani performing Don José for the first time in his career. Romanian soprano Anita Hartig makes her Company debut as Micaëla and bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen is the bullfighter, Escamillo.

General Director at the Glimmerglass Festival and longtime San Francisco Opera collaborator, Zambello commented on working with Bridges in 2011: “At Glimmerglass, I began offering a family performance of one of the operas with a cast of young artists. J’Nai Bridges essayed the role of Carmen in one of those family performances and her singing was already memorable, as were her animal stage instincts. I am thrilled to see the wonderful arc of J’Nai’s career and for us to be rejoined as she makes her professional debut in this role.” 

Christina Gansch as Dorinda in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro and Heidi Stober as Angelica in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Christina Gansch as Dorinda, Heidi Stober as Angelica, and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke (left) as Orlando and Christian Van Horn (right) as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke as Orlando, Heidi Stober as Angelica, and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Sasha Cooke as Orlando and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Medoro in Handel's "Orlando."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Handel’s Orlando (June 9–27) will be unveiled in a bold production by English director Harry Fehr which sets Ariosto’s mythic romance in London during The Blitz of the Second World War.

Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke makes her highly-anticipated role debut as the warrior Orlando, here envisioned as a fighter pilot who is mentally tormented by battle trauma and an immoderate passion for his lover, Angelica.

Soprano Heidi Stober adds Angelica to her repertory of Handelian roles, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is Medoro and Austrian soprano Christina Gansch makes her American debut as Dorinda.

Bass-baritone and 2018 Richard Tucker Award recipient Christian Van Horn is Zoroastro, the doctor who helps Orlando navigate his mental anguish. English conductor Christopher Moulds leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in his first engagement with the Company.

Dvořák's "Rusalka"
Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Dvořák's "Rusalka"
Photo: Todd Rosenberg/Lyric Opera of Chicago

Rusalka (June 16–28), Antonín Dvořák’s enchanting 1901 fairytale about a water nymph who trades her voice for love, returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage in a “thoughtfully conceived and brilliantly executed” (Chicago Tribune) production by director David McVicar.

In her first portrayal of the title role, soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen heads a cast that includes tenor Brandon Jovanovich as the Prince, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as the witch Ježibaba, Kristinn Sigmundsson as Vodník and soprano Sarah Cambidge as the Foreign Princess.

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Images courtesy of SF Opera

Please check sfopera.comfor further details or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.

San Francisco Opera Box Office hours: Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Saturday phone only). Casts, programs and schedules are subject to change.

All War Memorial Opera House performances feature a Pre-Opera Talk beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain. The lecturers for the Summer Season are Laura Prichard (Carmen), Bruce Lamott (Orlando) and Peter Susskind (Rusalka).

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
Photo: Cesar Rubio

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Designer to Watch: Sausalito-Based Molie Malone

TRUE TO FORM: Molie Malone believes that the best design happens when she develops a deeply empathetic relationship with her clients.

Her goal is to design and create interiors of rich comfort and pleasure, in the style and scale that fit perfectly, like a beautifully tailored ensemble

Molie Malone’s life and career trajectory have been fascinating, from growing up in the California Wine Country, her rewarding years as a therapist, to world traveler antiquaire. And each step has enriched her highly successful design career.

Now based in a sunny loft in Sausalito that’s a scenic ferry trip across the bay from San Francisco, she uses all of her skills to craft custom design for fortunate clients.

“It’s thrilling for me to work with my clients’ personal collections of art and objects and antiques. These exceptional pieces enrich rooms and give each design an edge.” – Molie Malone

Meet Molie Malone

I sat down for a chat with Molie Malone recently. Come with me to meet Molie and learn about her design and project management approach.

DDS: Molie, congratulations on your success as a designer and your empathetic approach to design. For you the most important aspect of working with a new design client is first to build a creative relationship. 
MM: Yes, my first career was in mental health. I was a psychotherapist for a number of years before I entered the design world. I worked primarily with young women as part of a feminist practice. I also had the privilege of working with couples and families. It has been a surprisingly helpful background for my design career.

DDS: You become the client’s advisor, and advocate, never a design dictator.

MM: That is absolutely my goal. A lot of time is dedicated in the early phases of any project to assess, not just the client's taste and budget, but other needs as well. There are so many dynamics going on within an individual's or family's life. As designers, we step into their homes and their worlds. I want to make sure I have made an important connection with my clients as early as possible. This allows me to drive the design process respectfully and comfortably for everyone. 

DDS: You had also worked with antiques, from an early age.
MM: I come from a long line of collectors and I was trained early to love furniture and treasures with patina and soul. I purchased my first set of blue and white china at age 15. It surprised no one in my family when I was in the antique world. What surprised me was how it launched my design career. Customers began to me to design their homes. As the projects grew in scale, I returned to school and was re-trained in interior design.

DDS: Tell us about your design for the recent San Francisco Decorator Showcase on the Marina. The de Gournay stairway decor was memorable indeed.
MM: I worked closely with de Gournay, a dream in certain ways. They were generous with their time and resources. Their level of artistry that went into creating the abstract hand-painted de Gournay wallpapers for my entry was thrilling. The metallic finish reflected the light in the most beautiful way. At sunrise, the wall colors were shimmering and subtle, and at sunset they reflected the rich colors of the sun on San Francisco Bay. The wallpapers were made to my exact specifications, using traditional Chinese art techniques and all traditional materials. When de Gournay is the talent and eye, the experience is otherworldly. It was most certainly a career high for me.

DDS: And you recently completed a chic and lovely interior, in collaboration with Mill Valley architect Barbara Chambers. 
MM: Another amazing experience! Barbara is as talented as she is kind. She is a respectful collaborator and unwavering in her commitment to creating homes with brilliant, thoughtful details, but more importantly, soul.

DDS: You’re working all over Northern California. What’s next for you? 
MM: My team and I are very involved and immersed with longtime and new clients. We are creating a home for clients who currently live abroad but will return to the Bay Area when the project is finished. It has been a fascinating process to design and build remotely. It is such a reminder about how small the world becomes with technology. We literally can design for anyone, anywhere. More importantly, this "remotely designed" project evokes such gratitude in me. Cients trust me and my team to create a home for them, sometimes while they live on the other side of the planet, and that is deeply gratifying. 

DDS: I can’t wait to see it. Wishing you continued success and the joy of decorating.

The Perfect Collaboration

Molie Malone collaborated with architect Barbara Chambers on a house in San Francisco overlooking elegant Alta Plaza Park.

This 1920s Italian Revival residence, for a venture capitalist, included a central staircase, a grand foyer, a gracious formal living room facing the park, and relaxed circulation throughout the residence.

Mill Valley architect Barbara Chambers of Chambers & Chambers, a noted classicist, and Malone worked closely to refine the architecture and to create a truly bespoke interior. After an extensive remodel, the house serves as a calm haven.

About Molie Malone Interior Design

Molie Malone found her way to the design world through an early love of collecting antiques. In 2001, she launched her antique company.

Molie traveled extensively to buy antiques and developed her eye for exceptional design. Clients requested her assistance with their interior design projects, and she translated her passion for antiqued into her own design studio, Molie Malone Interior Design. 

Molie creates spaces that are both elegant and easy to live in. A clear and pragmatic approach to design enables her to work on a wide range of projects, both residential and commercial. “The best designs come from close collaborations with a broad range of talent, from architects to fabric designers and craftspeople around the world.

Molie lives in Marin County, California in a 100 year-old family residence. Her passions include nurturing and maintaining her garden.


Molie Malone Interior Design


Mitchell Shenker Photography

Christopher Stark Photography

Melanie Duerkopp Photography

David Duncan Livingston Photography