Adrianne Pieczonka Makes Her Company Debut in the Title Role of Puccini’s ToscaSan Francisco Opera presents its 2009 summer season June 2nd through July 5th at the War Memorial Opera House. The featured works are Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata and George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. This trio of masterpieces – two beloved Italian classics and the quintessential American folk opera – will thrill both opera aficionados and novices alike with a cadre of world renowned artists and three of opera’s most magnificent scores. The summer season is also highlighted by a special performance of the Verdi Requiem honoring Maestro Donald Runnicles on May 29th and a return to Opera in the Ballpark for a free live simulcast of Tosca on June 5th.
San Francisco Opera’s summer repertory opens June 2 with Puccini’s Tosca, bringing to life a tempestuous world of cruelty and deception through the tale of an idealistic artist, a celebrated singer and a corrupt police chief engaged in a fierce battle of wills. Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka makes her Company debut in the title role of this Lotfi Mansouri production—a re-creation of Armando Agnini’s Tosca production that opened the War Memorial Opera House in 1932, first seen at the 1997 reopening of the War Memorial Opera House after its extensive renovation. A turbulent story of love found and lost, Porgy and Bess stands at the pinnacle of the American operatic repertoire and is highlighted by almost a dozen of Gershwin’s most recognizable melodies. American bass-baritone Eric Owens and Merola Opera Program alumna Laquita Mitchell both make their role debuts as Porgy and Bess, an unlikely couple who manage to find love amidst the squalor of Catfish Row. General Director David Gockley, whose long association with Porgy and Bess has made it a mainstay of the operatic repertoire, brings Gershwin’s beloved opera to San Francisco for the first time in more than a decade. San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello directs her critically acclaimed production, and John DeMain returns to the podium. Director Marta Domingo’s lively production of Verdi’s La Traviata sets the timeless story of a conflicted courtesan, her devoted lover and his disapproving father in the appropriately exuberant Roaring Twenties. Donald Runnicles conducts the emotionally evocative and eternally popular score in his final performances as the Company’s music director. International superstar Anna Netrebko is the glamorous yet tortured Violetta, a role she shares with Elizabeth Futral and Ailyn Pérez.
San Francisco Opera also announces two cast changes for the Summer 2009 Season. Uruguayan tenor Carlo Ventre will sing the role of Mario Cavaradossi in Tosca, replacing tenor Roberto Aronica, who has withdrawn from the production. Ventre was last seen at San Francisco Opera as Alfredo Germont in La Traviata and Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra in 2001. The internationally renowned singer has recently sung at such venues as Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Teatro Carlo Felice (Genoa), Teatro dell' Opera (Rome), Teatro Municipal (Sao Paolo), and Civic Opera House (Chicago).
Baritone Lester Lynch makes his Company debut in the role of Crown in Porgy and Bess replacing baritone Gregg Baker, who has withdrawn from the production. A native of Ohio, Lynch has previously sung the role of Crown with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera and New York City Opera. His other recent performances include Sharpless (Madama Butterfly) with Opera Theater of St. Louis, Giorgio Germont (La Traviata) with Houston Grand Opera, Tonio (Pagliacci) with Opera Pittsburgh, and Porgy (Porgy and Bess) with Lyric Opera of Chicago.