Friday, June 10, 2022

San Francisco Opera Summer Season: The Brilliant and Highly Artistic Program Continues with ‘Dream Of The Red Chamber’

San Francisco Opera (now launching a celebration of its hundredth year) has created a wonderfully engaging summer season of two operas, ‘Don Giovanni’ and up next, “Dream of the Red Chamber’ which opens this week.

‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ based on an admired classic of Chinese literature from the 18th century, was first presented by San Francisco Opera in 2016, when it was highly praised and enthusiastically received. It will run this summer at the War Memorial Opera House from June 14—July 3.


Konu Kim as Bai Yu and dancers in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 



Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s opera returns in acclaimed production by director Stan Lai, Academy Award-Winning production designer Tim Yip and lighting designer Gary Marder. It’s an exquisite production that presents palaces and battles and bamboo forests and lakes and private interiors of great intimacy, detail and poetry and heightened authenticity.


Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 


Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 



‘Dream of the Red Chamber

The source novel for Dream of the Red Chamber is arguably comparable in Chinese culture to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the West. It is widely known and continues to exert a powerful influence on romantic storytelling. The plot of the opera centers around the predestined soulmates Bao Yu, scion of the illustrious Jia family, and the brilliant but frail Dai Yu. Their union is complicated by a scheme to marry Bao Yu to the wealthy Bao Chai of the Xue family.



Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 


Soprano Meigui Zhang as Dai Yu in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera 




Born in Shanghai shortly before China’s Cultural Revolution, Bright Sheng is one of today’s foremost living composers who, as the MacArthur Foundation proclaimed, “merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries.”

Of his score for Dream of the Red Chamber, the Los Angeles Times observed, “He uses brass, winds and percussion (Western and Chinese) in original and highly imaginative ways.

Pitches bend in ways that sound almost acrobatically impossible. Chinese folk tunes get transformed into rapturously expressive new music, gorgeously colored.” Playwright David Henry Hwang, acclaimed for his many award-winning plays (Chinglish, M. Butterfly) and operatic collaborations (Philip Glass’ The Voyage, Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland, Howard Shore’s The Fly, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar and the forthcoming world premiere at Santa Fe Opera of Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly), worked closely with Sheng on the work’s libretto, creating a three-hour opera from a vast literary epic.

World-renowned theater artist Stan Lai (Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land) returns to direct what the San Francisco Chronicle hailed “a magnificent production.”

The sets and costumes by Academy Award-winning designer Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) created opulent stage pictures, including an “amazing system of backdrops that rise and fall on cue, weaving together bits of rolling Chinese landscape in ways that are both literal and abstract” (Opera News) and lighting designer Gary Marder “bedecks the stage in vivid ornament while maintaining a suitably dreamlike atmosphere” (San Francisco Chronicle).



Guang Yang as Aunt Xue in an early rehearsal of Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


Francis Jue as the Monk (standing) and Konu Kim as Bao Yu (kneeling) in an early rehearsal of Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber — photo Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



The genesis of Dream of the Red Chamber began when Pearl Lam Bergad, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Chinese Heritage Foundation, approached then-San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley in 2013 about producing an opera based on the novel. From the beginning, this musical and lyric setting of the timeless Chinese love story was to have an English libretto so it would be readily accessible to non-Chinese speakers. Sheng and Hwang’s opera became the first in San Francisco Opera history to feature bilingual supertitles with text in both English and traditional Chinese.



San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



I hope to see my friends there. It runs over three hours, and I wish it were longer. It’s one of my favorite productions, and I’m so happy that it has been so enthusiastically received by diverse communities and opera lovers internationally. Bravo, SFOpera. Bravo, General Director, Matthew Shilvock.



San Francisco Opera’s Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) ©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



About the San Francisco Opera: New Ideas and New Works

San Francisco Opera’s Instigators  
Ever evolving and updating, under the direction of Matthew Shilvock, San Francisco Opera will launch a new program in 2022 to pioneer new directions in opera. Instigators brings together bold innovators from outside the world of opera to envision future directions for the art form.

The Company will welcome cohorts of individuals from a diverse range of artistic and technological fields into a creative laboratory designed to provoke and expand the boundaries of the art form. The team will explore new ways to create and experience opera.

Since presenting Puccini’s then still-new triptych Il Trittico in its inaugural season of 1923, San Francisco Opera has been an exponent of new music and home for dramatic stories by contemporary artists. The Company has presented the American premieres of works by many twentieth century masters, including Francis Poulenc, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten, Maurice Ravel, Dmitri Shostakovich, Leoš Janáček, Olivier Messiaen and György Ligeti. Since 1961, the Company has been committed to commissioning new operas from living composers and presenting the world premieres of works by John Adams, Jake Heggie, Philip Glass, André Previn, Bright Sheng and others. 



War Memorial Opera House — photo by John Boatwright




For Tickets and Information
www.sfopera.com

The San Francisco Opera Box Office is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
Telephone (415) 864-3330.

San Francisco Opera Box Office hours are: 
Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (Saturdays phone only)


Monday, June 6, 2022

San Francisco Opera Summer Season 2022 Opens with Two New Productions

Two new and stunning productions for June performances: Don Giovanni and Dream of the Red Chamber will be presented.

I am so excited. Summer opera in San Francisco is on again. San Francisco Opera, one of the greatest (and oldest) opera companies in the world, is presenting two new and dramatic and powerful operas. And this year SAN FRANCISCO OPERA will be starting celebrating its centennial. One hundred years.

I love the two summer productions—Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and the highly dramatic Dream of the Red Chamber, by a team of fantastic creators, based on a classic of Chinese literature.


Act II sextet with Christina Gansch (Zerlina), Adela Zaharia (Donna Anna), Nicole Car (Donna Elvira), Amitai Pati (Don Ottavio), Luca Pisaroni (Leporello - disguised as Don Giovanni), and Cody Quattlebaum (Masetto) in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


Act I finale of Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



San Francisco Opera opens its 2022 Summer Season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni from June 4–July 2 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Don Giovanni follows the titular Don, a nobleman whose womanizing and self-interest lead to a fiery retribution.

Witty, darkly humorous and filled with exuberant melodic invention, the opera reveals the 31-year-old Mozart at a creative peak.



Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni and Luca Pisaroni as Leporello in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni and Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Luca Pisaroni as Leporello and Christina Gansch as Zerlina in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Parisian conductor Bertrand de Billy conducts the 1788 version of the score, where Mozart added arias and made other changes for the work’s presentation in Vienna six months after its first performances in Prague.

In his first performances since joining the Company in January, San Francisco Opera’s Chorus Director John Keene prepares the Opera Chorus.



Luca Pisaroni as Leporello and Nicole Car as Donna Elvira in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


Nicole Car as Donna Elvira and Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera




Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera




Director Michael Cavanagh’s new production is the third and final chapter of San Francisco Opera’s multi-year Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, presenting all three operatic collaborations by Mozart and poet Lorenzo Da Ponte within the same American house setting at different points over a 300-year span. 



Bertrand de Billy (conductor) Photo: Marco Borggreve



INSIDER DETAILS FOR YOUR PLEASURE

Conductor Bertrand de Billy makes his Company debut leading an international cast headed by Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni, Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, and Nicole Car as Donna Elvira, all in Company debuts, with Christina Gansch, Luca Pisaroni, Amitai Pati, Cody Quattlebaum and Soloman Howard.

The Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy launched in 2019 with the popular and critically praised production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set in America’s early postcolonial period when the American house setting and the nation itself were newly founded.

The narrative arc continued in November 2021 with Così fan tutte, in which Cavanagh’s “richly inventive touch” (San Francisco Chronicle) moved the action to the 1930s where the house has been converted into a country club and the characters find themselves at moral crossroads.


Christina Gansch as Zerlina and Cody Quattlebaum as Masetto in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera



Nicole Car as Donna Elvira and Etienne Dupuis as the title role in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera




Amitai Pati as Don Ottavio, Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, and Soloman Howard as the Commendatore in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera





THE FINAL OPERA OF THIS SUPERB TRILOGY

The director and his creative team of set and projection designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Jane Cox conclude their vision for the trilogy with Don Giovanni, set 150 years after the previous installment in an uncertain future where the house and society are crumbling.

Cavanagh said: “When we charted the Great American House journey, we deliberately stretched our timeline to demonstrate the universality and timelessness of the common themes in these amazing works.”


War Memorial Opera House Exterior. Photo by Joel Puliatti.




TICKETS AND INFORMATION

Tickets for Don Giovanni are available at the San Francisco Opera Box Office, by phone at (415) 864-3330 and online at sfopera.com.

The San Francisco Opera Box Office window is located in the Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue.

San Francisco Opera requires all patrons aged 12 and older, who are eligible, to show proof of vaccination and booster shot/s along with a photo ID for admission to performances at the War Memorial Opera House.

All patrons must wear well-fitted masks that cover their nose, mouth and chin when inside the War Memorial Opera House unless they are actively eating or drinking.

For complete information about the Company’s health and safety protocols, visit sfopera.com/safetyfirst.

All casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change.

For further information about San Francisco Opera’s 2021–22 Season, visit sfopera.com/onstage.



Luca Pisaroni as Leporello in Mozart's "Don Giovanni."
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera


Monday, March 14, 2022

San Francisco Designer Steven Volpe: The Art of Design — Studio Volpe Projects Revealed in His New Rizzoli Book

STEVEN VOLPE MARKS MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS OF DESIGN

For San Francisco designer Steven Volpe, design and art always go hand in hand. He first learned the importance and uses of art in design as a young apprentice in the studio of San Francisco designer, Anthony Hail. He studied art and design in Paris, which further cemented his understanding of art history, modern design, 20th-century design and avant-garde art.

Volpe’s deep immersion in the best of contemporary art and design are fully revealed in his new book ‘Steven Volpe Rooms’ co-authored with Mayer Rus, and published by Rizzoli.

Ten residences are presented in this volume—in locations including Los Angeles, London, New York, Bel-Air, San Francisco and Paris. Each house or apartment presents singular art collections, all fully integrated into and enhancing the architecture and interior design.





STEVEN VOLPE ROOMS, his new book showcases ten projects that have been completed in the last decade. All feel startlingly original, fresh, and inspiring.




The book’s pages show New York City penthouses and modernist California homes to a traditional London townhouse and classical San Francisco mansions. Each project displays Volpe’s refined sensibility. Each room reveals understated luxury. The text describes how he creates thought-provoking environments.

These are rooms of great subtlety that quietly stimulate the senses.










“My clients are avid and knowledgeable art collectors and now more than ever collecting is individual and every piece must have merit, must be able to stand alone,”said Volpe. “In my private collections and for my clients I strive for pieces that have integrity, no matter their style or approach.”

Art and fine antiques, edgy prototypes and experimental new pieces arrive and depart on his walls, but new pieces are more often from the twenty-first century than the eighteenth. 








Steven Volpe noted that he had always been captivated by classical rooms with avant-garde paintings.

Even in the forties and thirties in Paris, designers were breaking out of historic constraints, including abstract art and experimental designs in classic décor, said Volpe, gesturing to contemporary sculptures in his collection.

“French decorators lead the way for New York and London design pre-war,” Volpe noted. “They were the fore-runners for what is happening in design today, hanging bold and experimental paintings (think Picasso, Matisse) in rooms furnished with family heirlooms and ‘proper’ Louis XV chairs and gilded mirrors. Now a room may have some classical underpinnings, but on the walls will be Anish Kapoor or Damien Hirst.






“I’ve always been interested in the pre-factory-made era, when craftsmen could take time and achieve perfection,” said Volpe. Prices for furniture by French designers like Jean-Michel Frank and Jacques Quinet or Jacques-Emile Ruhlman are now at stratospheric museum-only levels, so in Europe he looks at emerging Dutch artists and designers, buys from dealers like Belgian Axel and Boris Vervoordt, and plunges into the side-streets of Paris and paces through the Marais and the 16th Arrondissement for new galleries to conquer.

“Some new pieces I’m collecting are pared-down and minimal, they look modern, fresh and original, they shake up a room,” said Volpe. “I want fine craftsmanship, elegance and luxury, but perhaps in a surprising material like plaster or galvanized metal.”







“I’ve always been drawn to signed furniture designs of the mid-twentieth century that have a pure, polished aesthetic,” said Volpe, who plans highly individual interiors around the world for his clients. “ I want rooms and collections to feel relevant and never trendy. Rooms must have longevity. I never want to see a room full of Ron Arad or Gio Ponti. We have to live there, sit on a comfortable chair."

Volpe notes that he still has the first pieces he collected such as a 1775 Regence walnut chest of drawers with gilt bronze hardware.

“My collection is ever-evolving, but I buy to keep,” said Volpe. “Some years ago, I bought a pair of Roman and Erwin Bourellec chairs in ombré lacquered steel in Paris. Karl Lagerfeld also collected their work. I will always keep them. They are singular, startling, fascinating.”







Contacts:

‘Steven Volpe Rooms’ by Steven Volpe and Mayer Rus is published by Rizzoli Books

Studio Volpe: www.stevenvolpe.com