Monday, June 5, 2023

Celebrating the Beauty and Creativity of San Francisco Opera and Three Brilliant New Productions

Congratulations to brilliant San Francisco Opera for a glorious Summer Season 2023.

I’m looking forward to attending three very exciting opera productions. The special season opens this week at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House. On June 16, San Francisco Opera’s Centennial will be marked with music and joy and artistry at the 100th Anniversary Concert.

Bravo, San Francisco Opera and the entire company for a season of depth, innovation, beauty, and surprises. I look forward to classic opera pleasures and new delights.

A scene from Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera’s 2023 Summer Season opens June 3 with Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (Madama Butterfly).

Music Director Eun Sun Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in a new production by visionary Japanese director Amon Miyamoto. San Francisco Opera Chorus director John Keene prepares the artists of the Opera Chorus.

The company’s summer season also brings the return of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 
fairy-tale opera Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman Without a Shadow) from June 4–28, a rarely performed masterwork that had its American premiere in San Francisco in 1959.

The third production is the highly anticipated Bay Area premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego 
 (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego). This new San Francisco Opera co-commission is by Berkeley-born composer Gabriela Lena Frank and Pulitzer Prize-winning librettist Nilo Cruz.

I am excited also to see a dazzling lineup of production, design, and costume talents.  

In addition to accomplished and compelling musical artists, SF Opera brings together an international group of creative arts talent. Each opera is distinctive in style, expression and visual delights.

Centennial Festive Evening

On Friday, June 16, San Francisco Opera welcomes an all-star, international roster of artists to celebrate the Company’s first 100 years and usher in its second century with the one-night-only 100th Anniversary Concert followed by a dinner with the artists fundraising benefit.

More information below on a remarkable program of leading international artists, creators and musical greats. 

•  Madame Butterfly  •

Jongwon Han as The Bonze, Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San, and John Charles Quimpo as Adult Trouble in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This new production is led by visionary Japanese director Amon Miyamoto. 

Known for its many stirring melodies, including Cio-Cio-San’s aria “Un bel dì” (“One beautiful day”), the Humming Chorus and the passionate Act I love duet, Madame Butterfly is among the most famous operas from the composer of La Bohème, Tosca, Gianni Schicchi and Turandot. 

Julius Ahn as Goro in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Michael Fabiano as Pinkerton and Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” 
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Viva Young Maguire as Trouble, Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San, and Hyona Kim as Suzuki in Puccini's “Madame Butterfly.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The new staging, a co-production with the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation, Semperoper Dresden and the Royal Danish Opera, features the work of set designer Boris Kudlička, lighting designer Fabio Antoci and projection designer Bartek Macias.

•  Die Frau Ohne Schatten  •

Johan Reuter as Barak and Nina Stemme as the Dyer's Wife in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Die Frau ohne Schatten is, along with Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle and Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens, among opera’s most ambitious and exhilarating large-scale works for the stage. 

For decades following its 1919 world premiere, Strauss’ magnum opus was considered impossible to produce by many American impresarios due to the work’s massive orchestral forces, complex scene changes and vocal demands. San Francisco Opera presented the work’s American premiere in 1959.

This new-to-San Francisco Opera production, which features otherworldly transitions between the spirit world, the imperial palace and the humble household of the tradesman, Barak. It’s the creative vision of artist David Hockney. 

Linda Watson as the Nurse and Stefan Egerstrom as the Spirit Messenger in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Camilla Nylund as the Empress and David Butt Philip as the Emperor in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Camilla Nylund as the Empress and David Butt Philip as the Emperor in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.”  Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

David Butt Philip as the Emperor in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

A scene from Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Camilla Nylund as the Empress in Strauss and Hofmannsthal's “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Former San Francisco Opera music director Sir Donald Runnicles, who led the company’s acclaimed performances of Wagner’s Ring cycle in 2011 and 2018, returns to the podium to conduct Die Frau ohne Schatten for the first time in his career.

Die Frau ohne Schatten, like Elektra, requires one of the largest pit orchestras in the operatic repertoire, and Maestro Runnicles leads the artists of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, including 96 instrumentalists in the pit and 9 backstage, for these performances.

Swedish soprano Nina Stemme portrays the Dyer’s Wife. Stemme’s first performances of the role at the Vienna State Opera in 2019 were among opera’s hottest pre-pandemic tickets which Opera News hailed as “A stunning role debut.”

•  El ultimo sueño de Frida y Diego  •

Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo, Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera, and Yaritza Véliz as Catrina in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera presents the Bay Area premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego June 13– 30. The new, vivid and dramatic opera by Bay Area composer Gabriela Lena Frank with librettist and frequent collaborator Nilo Cruz is a San Francisco Opera co- commission and the company’s first Spanish-language opera (the performances will feature English and Spanish supertitles). 

The opera takes place in 1957 on El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), three years after the death of visionary painter Frida Kahlo. The last wish of her lonely husband, famed muralist Diego Rivera, is to see Frida again and the underworld answers his call. The two artists enjoy one last opportunity at reunion, reconciliation and release from the pain of longing. 

Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Yaritza Véliz as Catrina in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.” Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Yaritza Véliz as Catrina and Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.”

Daniela Mack (center) as Frida Kalho in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz's “El último sueño de Frida y Diego.”

Gabriela Lena Frank’s music is regularly featured by the nation’s leading ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. She is composer in residence of the Philadelphia Orchestra and has composed new works for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw and conductors Marin Alsop and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. El último sueño de Frida y Diego is her first opera.

Artists & Creatives

I am excited also to see a dazzling lineup of orchestral, lighting, production, design, and costume talents. 

In addition to accomplished and compelling musical artists, SF Opera brings together an international group of creative arts talent. Each opera is distinctive in style, expression and visual delights.

Madame Butterfly:  Stage set designs by Boris Kudlicka and costumes by Kenzo Takada. The Japanese designer Kenzō Takada was the founder of the luxury brand KENZO.

Die Frau Ohne Schatten:  Sets by David Hockney. Costumes by Ian Falconer.

El último sueño de Frida y Diego:  Sets by Jorge Ballina. Costumes by Eloise Kazan.

San Francisco Opera Music Director Eun Sun Kim  Photo: Kim Tae-hwan

Sir Donald Runnicles (conductor)  Photo: Simon Pauly


Michael Fabiano (Lt. B. F. Pinkerton in June performances)  Photo: Jiyang Chen

Amon Miyamoto (director)

Julius Ahn (Goro)  Photo: Jules Ko


Nina Stemme (Dyer's Wife)  Photo: Neda Navaee

Camilla Nylund (The Empress)  Photo:

Roy Rallo (stage director)


Gabriela Lena Frank  Photo: Mariah Tauger

Eloise Kazan (costume designer)  Photo: Alex Farbe

Lorena Maza (director)

Daniela Mack (Frida Kahlo)  Photo: Shervin Lainez

San Francisco Opera Announces Program for One-Night-Only Centennial Celebration

100th Anniversary Concert
: War Memorial Opera House, June 16, 2023

Musical program spanning the company’s first century features the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, conductors Eun Sun Kim, Sir Donald Runnicles, Patrick Summers and 15 vocal soloists.

The featured soloists are sopranos Karita Mattila, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Racette, Nina Stemme, Heidi Stober, Adela Zaharia; mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham, Daniela Mack; tenors Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Fabiano, Brandon Jovanovich, Russell Thomas; baritones Lucas Meachem, Brian Mulligan; and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn.

The evening will feature selections from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tannhäuser, three works that marked a dramatic acceleration for the Company on the way to opening the 1935 season with its first-ever Ring cycle.

European masterpieces of the twentieth century are signified with selections from the works by Benjamin Britten and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. SFOpera’s longstanding reputation as a commissioner of new works and its relationship with composer John Adams are both observed with the inclusion of “Batter my heart” from Doctor Atomic, one of three operas by the Bay Area composer to have its world premiere on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House. 

Patricia Racette (soprano)  Photo: Kate Russell

Lawrence Brownlee (tenor)  Photo: Zakiyah Caldwell Burroughs

Heidi Stober (soprano)  Photo: Simon Pauly

Christian Van Horn (bass-baritone)  Photo: Dario Acosta

Adela Zaharia (soprano)  Photo: Klaudia Taday

Congratulations to SFOpera General Director Matthew Shilvock. I am looking forward to a wonderful and inspiring Summer Opera 2023.

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock. Photo: Kristen Loken

Eun Sun Kim and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Photo: Drew Altizer/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House


San Francisco Opera
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Avenue 
San Francisco, CA 94102







SFOpera will share its performances globally through livestreams of the three operas and 100th Anniversary Concert. Each of the mainstage opera livestreams (excluding the concert) includes a 48-hour on-demand viewing option.) For more information, visit:

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Inspiration, Illumination and Delight: My Favorite New Design, Style and Art Books

From the season’s best books, I’ve selected the essentials, the soulful new collectible books to add to your library. These are singular books to re-read for years of pleasure, ideas, reference, nostalgia, information and thrills.

My favorites include books by and about design icons…Jean-Louis Deniot, Stephen Stills, Jacques Grange, Suzanne Tucker… and shimmering talents. Images and ideas leap off the page. Pure beauty and bravura, each volume is sexy and subversive and opinionated, ‘Irreverent’ even. Every book is idiosyncratic, style shaping and certain to become a cult item.

Constant themes and threads running throughout these luscious books— are beauty, daring invention, history, classicism, originality, quality, passion.

Come with me for a flick through the pages of the new best books. For book collectors and aesthetes, this list is…sex on toast.

Destinations Jean-Louis Deniot 

Text by Pamela Golbin

With exceptionally beautiful photography, Jean-Louis Deniot’s second book is a series of project-by-project conversations between the designer and author Pamela Golbin, Destinations takes the reader around the world to eighteen destinations show-casing never-before-published international projects, from his own handsome new Paris office, tropical retreats in Miami, Manhattan aeries, and the interior of a private jet in Aspen, to an elegant townhouse inLondon, an Italian waterfront villa, and projects in Colombia, India, Russia, and Morocco.

Essential reading for obsessive fans of Deniot's work and the Francophile dreamer looking for inspiration. 

Jean-Louis Deniot has spent almost three decades creating an impressive range of architecture and interiors across the globe. In the 320 pages of his new book he deftly reveals classicism and the avant-garde, and creates a highly eclectic framework of international style. His skill and understanding of the vocabulary and practicalities of design give depth to each interior. The theatrical tour de force of his dramatic penthouse soaring high above Miami is burned into my brain. Virtuoso.

Published by Rizzoli. Photography by Jonny Valiant, Anita Calero, Sophie Delaporte

Stephen Sills A Vision for Design

Text by David Netto

Stephen Stills, based in New York, is one of the most dynamic, consistent and influential interior designers today. This superbly produced book offers images of his newest work, with muscular topics examined and revealed, including art, classical architecture, the importance of craft, creating landscape, and design goals for many types of rooms, from primary to functional. The book also features reflections on decades of evolution of Sills’ style.

The designer’s creative collaborators for the book include longtime client, Tina Turner; text by David Netto, and a conversation on gardens with Sills’ longtime friend and neighbor, Martha Stewart. A book about Stephen Sills must show his own residences…and it is always his own houses that feel the most expressive, artful and ‘just right.

I admire his work, and have been following him since his first apartment in New York was published. The living room, all in ivory, with a classical marble fireplace, and just a few beautiful sculptures and chairs, has always seemed the empyrean Manhattan bachelor apartment décor.

Published by Rizzoli

Knole A Private View of One of Britain’s Great Houses

by Robert Sackville-West

The Sackville family has inhabited and enhanced Knole, in Kent, for more than four hundred years.

In this dazzlingly original book, Robert Sackville-West, the thirteenth generation of the family, offers an enlightening tour of his country estate. Ashley Hicks, noted English photographer and sculptor, recorded the 365 rooms in all seasons, and giving great insight into the characters and actions of English history. 

The Knole text demonstrates and illuminates the tide of fate and family, the style and theatricality of each century, and the back-story of each chair and tassel and flourish. Most enjoyable and absorbing reading for those who love English history. Brilliant and visionary leaders and poets and statesmen and noble women take center stage. ‘Knole’ is a juicy study. Tip: when spring bursts forth, and the hedgerows of Kent are blooming, take a train south of London to Kent to visit Knole. You may be wandering alone beneath the oak boughs and archways, if you are especially fortunate. Poetic. I’ve encountered the beauty of Knole. I can’t wait to return.

Published by Rizzoli/Electa

Deeda Blair Food, Flowers and Fantasy

Edited by Deborah Needleman

Deeda Blair—genius medical fundraiser and style trend-setter for many decades—opens her doors and invites readers into her domain.

On every chic page of this delicious and highly original book, readers will discover Deeda sharing coveted recipes and ideas for entertaining and setting tables honed over the course of an illustrious and glamorous life. 

Deeda sightseeing along the Dalmatian coast, 1960s. Snapshot by Cecil Beaton, a guest on the trip.

Blair also reveals how readers can develop their own taste and unique personal style through anecdotes and examples gleaned from friends like decorator Billy Baldwin, designer Hubert de Givenchy and collector Jayne Wrightsman.

Central to the narrative are six “fantasy meals,” that includes slender menus, recipes, table settings, and floral arrangements inspired by the people and places that have contributed to the evolution of Blair’s own style and experience as a hostess.

Among the places that have deeply inspired her aesthetic are masterpieces of design and decoration such as the Haga Pavilion in Sweden and Pavlovsk Palace in Russia. She reveals the private residences where she was a guest, such as Rory Cameron’s villa in the south of France and Givenchy’s chateau in the Loire Valley. Each meal is set in Blair’s serene New York apartment, captured by Ngoc Minh Ngo’s evocative photography of the imaginative tables Blair sets for the dishes she has been perfecting over decades of entertaining.

The great Deborah Needleman collaborated with Blair on this book, capturing her enchanting vision for entertaining. Exquisite photography by Ngoc Minh Ngo.

Published by Rizzoli

Mark Rothko

This revelatory volume examines the brilliance of Mark Rothko (1903–1970), 
a pioneer of the New York School and major figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Written by the artist’s daughter Kate Rothko Prizel and his son Christopher Rothko, the book reveals the paintings and intimate knowledge of the artworks and the artist’s life. Together they give a fuller picture of their father and his place within the context of art history. 

It’s an in-depth portrait—the man and his work— introducing personal details which enlighten. Beautifully illustrated with more than 275 images that explore his paintings, prints, and works on paper,Mark Rothko reveals the arc of his career and highlights his best-known and lesser-known works. Never-before images of his early figurative and Surrealist works are shown, all leading up to the magnificent and mesmerizing color-field paintings of immense scale. Definitive. A treasure.

Published by Rizzoli/Electa

Jacques Grange Recent Work 

by Pierre Passebon, with photography by Francois Halard

At 376 pages, this substantial book offers a feast of Jacques Grange’s international work.

Over the course of his five-decade career, Jacques Grange has designed for a who’s who of the world's most respected and daring collectors, artists, designers, and tastemakers, including Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, François Pinault, Valentino, Israel Englander, Stavros Niarchos, Terry and Jean de Gunzburg, Lauren and Andres Santo Domingo, Aerin Lauder, and HRH the Princess of Hanover. 

Grange's seemingly natural, "non-designed" aesthetic—at once simple and sophisticated, lavish and comfortable—manifests itself through a virtuoso combinations of materials and colors. Each room reveals his signature way of casually grouping objects, and his unparalleled attention to detail. Each interior offers a portrait and biography of the owners and their dynamic art. Bravo, Jacques Grange.

Published by Flammarion


Inventing The California Look Through the Lens of Fred Lyon

by Philip E. Meza

The collaboration of photographer Fred Lyon, Philip E. Meza, and the editors of Rizzoli is a brilliant one. In this highly enlightening grand volume, the concept of ‘the California Look’ is presented with panache and deep knowledge.

Fred Lyon enjoyed one of the longest careers of any photographer in the world—starting out before the war in the late thirties…and working non-stop until 2022, when he died at the age of 96, still planning and publishing new books. Beloved, admired. Missed. 

Architecture, wineries, travel imagery, fashion, style and his own personal monographs of San Francisco scenes. The quality of his exceptional photography captured the best of interiors by Frances Elkins, Michael Taylor, John Dickinson and Anthony Hale. Their timeless, classical and covetable designs are the highlight of this immensely stylish book.

Philip E. Meza was a close friend of Lyon, and his insightful texts and vivid research give this era of California design excitement and immediacy. An essential reference and inspiration. 

Published by Rizzoli

Suzanne Tucker Extraordinary Interiors 

In this beautiful volume, Suzanne Tucker’s third book, the San Francisco designer displays and demonstrates her versatility, her emphatic attention to detail, and her total mastery of her art and craft.

Throughout the 290 pages of this book, Suzanne Tucker has created ten magnificent estates; mountain lodges, San Francisco penthouses and villas, and a series of family residences that will all nurture and inspire generations.

In particular, Suzanne is obsessive about scale, proportion, harmony and balance in all of her rooms. Viewing the outstanding photographs by Roger Davies a reader is taken on a tour of each property, each with its own idiom and vocabulary.

Is there a penthouse or majestic apartment or residence in San Francisco that Suzanne Tucker has not designed? I studied each page—recognizing the interiors, the clients, their views, their hilltop locations and the allure of their architecture. Perfection is poised on each page, and Suzanne’s great sense of location, honoring the site.

Some of the favorite and most dynamic residences have been created with architect Andrew Skurman, a perfect partnership that results in décor and interior architecture of exceptional grace and beauty. Bravo, Suzanne, Long may you design in San Francisco and throughout the US.

Published by Monacelli Press

Soul Interiors by Orlando Diaz Azcuy

by Jose Arango 

I’ve been following the impressive career of Orlando Diaz-Azcuy with admiration. Now he has passed on his firm, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Designs to his partners, David Oldroyd and Greg Stewart and the firm is renamed ODADA.

At 85, Orlando continues to work closely with clients. He creates modernist interior architecture and décor across the US, including Miami and Long Island and Carmel. His new book, Soul Interiors by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy from Rizzoli confirms the refinement, originality, and integrity that are his design signatures for the last sixty years. 

The book includes signature interiors designed by Orlando, in close collaboration with David Oldroyd and Greg Stewart. Their range of work—usually informed by Modernism—demonstrates that modernist inspirations have no boundaries.

Published by Rizzoli. Photography by Matthew Millman, Nathan Kirkman

Currently Classic Jonathan Rachman Design

Text by Dean Rhys Morgan

Designer Jonathan Rachman has been a bright spark and lively creator on the design scene in San Francisco for three decades. Witty and bold, he designs rooms of charm and delight, and collections.

For Flammarion he has produced a vivid and memorable first monograph…including his famous decorator showcase confections, many of them an ode to the beauties of de Gournay wallpaper.

Jonathan, who was born in Sumatra, brings his worldly experience of studies in Switzerland, flea-market collecting in Paris and London, and an obsession with de Gournay’s exceptionally delicious hand-painted wallpapers.

With wit and roster of talented artists and craftspeople and international creators, Jonathan has blazed a new trail, and new directions, vibrant and ever-evolving. His new book is like a colorful diary, international in scope and free-wheeling in style. Bravo, Jonathan.

Published by Flammarion

Cocktails with a Curator The Frick Collection

By Xavier F. Salomon, with Aimee Ng and Giulio Dalvit
Foreword by Simon Schama, Illustrated by Luis Serrano

Based on the critically acclaimed Frick Madison video series of the same name, Cocktails with a Curator presents the engaging histories of works of the Frick Collection, art paired with creatively inspired cocktails. These Frick Friday afternoon live shows were my highlight of the Covid lockdown era. Culture, elegance, escape, wit, beauty. I love this book…with happy memories of Xavier and Aimee.

The book offers a crash course in art history and a delightful introduction to the treasures of the esteemed New York collection. Each video, and correspondingly each chapter of this book, presents a fresh take on a highlight from the collection, offered with individual and timely perspectives by the Frick’s dynamic curatorial team. Paintings, sculpture, furniture, and porcelain—from the Middle Ages into the early twentieth century—are discussed for their exemplary features.

Published by Rizzoli/Electa

Autour de L’Insolite

by Jonathon Keats

Gallery owner, Martin Muller, founder of Modernism gallery in San Francisco, is also a highly devoted independent art book publisher.

For the last four decades he has published very ultra-insider collectible books on surrealism, artists’ monographs by the dozen, as well as arcane and beautiful books on Russian art movements like Suprematism, and limited edition artists’ biographies. Each one has a singular voice, and each is a treasure.

Recently Martin (with Jonathon Keats) published the glorious ‘Autour de L’insolite’ subtitled ‘The Beautiful is always Bizarre’ and focusing on surrealism and black and white photography and paintings and constructions of great originality, mystery and beauty. Bravo, Martin and Jonathon, Danielle and Asa.

Highly inspiring. 

Published by Modernism Inc.


Follow along on Instagram...