After a pause, I have returned with cultural news, books, travel, events, and all my favorite places and people to reveal to you.
The Glorious Return of San Francisco Opera
San Francisco Opera Fall Season Opens August 21
Exciting news for opera lovers: San Francisco Opera is opening its fall season, August 21, with a grand presentation of ‘Tosca’. This is a favorite opera in San Francisco…and a thrill for all those who love coloratura performances. It was first performed by San Francisco Opera in 1923.
San Francisco Opera
San Francisco Opera inaugurates its 99th season and the first under the baton of Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim, with five performances of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, August 21–September 5.
Tosca, long associated with significant moments in San Francisco Opera’s history, will be the first opera staged in the War Memorial Opera House since the pandemic shutdown.
|Puccini's "Tosca" Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera|
Eun Sun Kim, the new music director, leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, and chorus and a cast. Ailyn Pérez performs in the title role of Tosca, tenor Michael Fabiano as Cavaradossi and Alfred Walker as Scarpia.
The Company’s “colorful and lavish” (San Francisco Examiner) production, first unveiled in 2018, is by director Shawna Lucey with sets and costumes designed by Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting by Michael Clark.
Inaugural Season of Music Director Eun Sun Kim
|Eun Sun Kim Photo: Marc Olivier Le Blanc/San Francisco Opera|
After making “a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance” (San Francisco Chronicle) leading Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka in June 2019, Eun Sun Kim was appointed Music Director Designate in December 2019 in a move the New York Times called “pathbreaking.”
The Seoul, South Korea-born Kim will help shape San Francisco Opera’s artistic vision as the Company heads into its second century. San Francisco Opera’s first two general directors, Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler, both regularly conducted performances during the Company’s first six decades.
In 1985, Sir John Pritchard was appointed San Francisco Opera’s first music director (1985–89). He was succeeded by Donald Runnicles (1992–2009) and Nicola Luisotti (2009–18). Kim is the fourth music director in the Company’s 99-year history.
|San Francisco Opera's Music Director Eun Sun Kim and General Director Matthew Shilvock outside the War Memorial Opera House Photo: Marc Olivier Le Blanc/San Francisco Opera|
I have admired Matthew Shilvock since he first arrived at San Francisco Opera, and especially after his appointment as General Director.
He has deftly directed the company through several challenging years. I especially have been impressed with his demeanor and management as the company has traversed the Covid year, and now emergence.
I also admire and appreciate that Matthew is passionate about telling profound stories of humanity through the total art-form of opera, connecting audiences with the emotional core of the repertoire, and empowering the whole Company.
Now in his sixth season as General Director, Matthew has overseen a major restructure of the senior management team, and the inception of an endowment campaign in support of the Company’s second century. He initiated the production of two world premiere operas: John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West and Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, and the development of a number of programs aimed at highlighting the talents of the Company, including annual concerts of the Opera Chorus and a new side-by-side orchestra program with San Francisco Unified School District schools.
His priorities include replenishing the core repertory productions of San Francisco Opera, creating a dynamic audience experience and community pride, connecting the Company to the fast-growing swirl of new thinking and new technologies in the Bay Area, and developing a stable financial model for large-scale repertory opera in the 21st century.
|Matthew Shilvock Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera|
“Opera gives us opportunities to gather and share in deep, collective, emotional expression. I have never felt more urgently the need for us to gather in this way. We need to be together again, and, on August 21, we will raise the curtain and do just that. But we are not returning unchanged. We emerge with a new music director in Eun Sun Kim!”
“We emerge informed by the bold experiments of the last year, carrying them forward with our new livestreaming program. And we emerge with an even deeper understanding of the power of opera to connect us after the long winter of its absence.”
“That all of our productions this season will be new or recently new to our stage is a testament to the local artisans who built them and to the local community which has supported this Company so magnificently during this year.” — Matthew Shilvock
The Fall 2021 Season continues with Beethoven’s Fidelio in director Matthew Ozawa’s new production, which updates the opera’s setting from an eighteenth-century prison to a modern government detainment center.
For this highly anticipated production of Beethoven’s only opera, Eun Sun Kim conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and a cast headed by Elza van den Heever as Leonore in her long-awaited return to the Company since her debut on the War Memorial stage as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni while still an Adler Fellow.
Beethoven's "Fidelio." New San Francisco Opera production opens October 14, 2021.
Set design by Alexander V. Nichols
The Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy
San Francisco Opera continues its multi-year project of staging the three operatic collaborations of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte as a trilogy of works set in an American house across a 300-year timespan.
Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte." New San Francisco Opera production opens November 21, 2021.
Set design by Erhard Rom
The Mozart- Da Ponte Trilogy, which launched in 2019 with the acclaimed production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set during colonial times, receives its second installment this November with Così fan tutte. The production takes place in the 1930s with the house now converted into a country club and the characters at a crossroads as trouble begins to stir abroad.
SPECIAL EVENT — FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 10 AT 7:00PM
Welcoming Audiences Back to the Opera House
San Francisco Opera’s new season will be a transitional year, temporarily offering a reduction in the number of operas and performances to ensure a safe return to the stage. Rehearsals and performances for the three fall productions are scheduled in succession rather than overlapping as in a typical repertory season. This provision, along with other protocols, allows maximum flexibility as the Company and audiences navigate this early period of emergence from the pandemic shutdown. The summer of 2022 will bring the return of repertory presentations.
|San Francisco Opera War Memorial Opera House during 2015 performance of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg. Photo by Cory Weaver.|
HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE
Based on the latest medical advice and patron feedback, San Francisco Opera will now require proof of vaccination for all patrons ages 12 and up to attend performances at the War Memorial Opera House and the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera during the 2021–22 Season.
Masks must be worn inside the building at all times.
The Company is no longer able to allow entry to patrons with only a negative COVID test.
To ensure the health and safety of audiences, artists and employees, comprehensive front and back-of-house safety protocols—developed in partnership with a team of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) physicians led by epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford—will be in place.
For complete details and updates, visit sfopera.com/safetyfirst.
War Memorial Opera House. Photo by Cesar Rubio
Tickets available at sfopera.com and (415) 864-3330
- Proof of Vaccination Now Required for All Guests 12 and Up
- Upon entry, patrons will be required to show proof of full vaccination (defined as two weeks after final shot; paper or electronic/photo documentation).
- All patrons will be required to wear a facemask while attending performances.
- Ventilation systems in the War Memorial Opera House meet Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
- All front-of-house and backstage employees will follow rigorous safety protocols including a vaccination requirement.
- Tickets must be purchased in advance either by phone or online. At this time, tickets are not available for in-person purchase.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
For tickets and programs for the season, and many events that are taking place online, off-site, including at the Ballpark: