San Francisco Opera Announces 2011-12 Season

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today revealed repertory plans, casting and productions for the 2011–12 Season, the Company’s 89th season. Nine operas will be presented: Heart of a Soldier, a world premiere commissioned on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks; three Company repertory premieres of Lucrezia Borgia, Xerxes and Nixon in China; two new San Francisco Opera production premieres—Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute; a new co-production of Attila with Teatro alla Scala; and Turandot and Carmen, revivals of two classic productions popular with San Francisco audiences. Seventy-four opera performances will be presented at the War Memorial Opera House beginning Friday, September 9 with a gala opening of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot.

Throughout the season, San Francisco Opera will present some of the world’s leading singers including Renée Fleming, Francesco Meli and Vitalij Kowaljow (Lucrezia Borgia); Melody Moore, William Burden and Thomas Hampson (Heart of a Soldier); Susan Graham, David Daniels and Sonia Prina (Xerxes); Iréne Theorin and Marco Berti (Turandot); Lucas Meachem and Ellie Dehn (Don Giovanni); Kate Aldrich, Thiago Arancam and Paulo Szot (Carmen); Ferruccio Furlanetto, Oksana Dyka, Ramón Vargas, Quinn Kelsey and Samuel Ramey (Attila); Heidi Stober, Alek Shrader, Nathan Gunn, Albina Shagimuratova and Kristinn Sigmundsson (The Magic Flute); and Brian Mulligan, Maria Kanyova and Simon O’Neill (Nixon in China).

Conducting the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus will be Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti (Turandot, Don Giovanni, Carmen and Attila), Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers (Heart of a Soldier and Xerxes) and Assistant Music Director Giuseppe Finzi (Turandot and Carmen). Making their Company debuts are conductors Riccardo Frizza (Lucrezia Borgia), Rory Macdonald (The Magic Flute) and Lawrence Renes (Nixon in China). The San Francisco Opera Chorus is directed by Ian Robertson .

The creative teams featured in the 2011–12 Season comprise many of the most respected directors and designers in the field: San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello and set designer Peter Davison (Heart of a Soldier); celebrated Italian film director Gabriele Lavia and designer Alessandro Camera (Don Giovanni and Attila); critically acclaimed English director and designer John Pascoe (Lucrezia Borgia); Olivier Award-winning film and stage director Nicholas Hytner, production designer David Fielding and revival director Michael Walling (Xerxes); Japanese-American ceramic artist and painter Jun Kaneko, production designer and director Harry Silverstein (The Magic Flute); the Company debuts of director Michael Cavanagh and designer Erhard Rom (Nixon in China); director Garnett Bruce and designer David Hockney (Turandot); and director Jose Maria Condemi in a production by the late director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (Carmen).

The new season is also highlighted by two orchestral concerts showcasing the San Francisco Opera Orchestra led by Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti in co-presentations with Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley on October 28, 2011 and June 3, 2012. In addition, a tribute concert Celebrating Frederica von Stade, the internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano and one of the music world’s most beloved figures, is planned for the Herbst Theatre on December 3, 2011. Celebrating Frederica von Stade is presented in association with San Francisco Performances, Cal Performances, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

“The Company’s 89th season offers a nice balance of repertory, with a healthy mix of debuting and returning artists,” said General Director David Gockley. “I am particularly pleased that despite these continuing hard financial times, seven of our nine productions will be new to the War Memorial Opera House stage.”

“I look forward to returning to San Francisco Opera for my third season and I am very happy to continue my association with this wonderful company,” commented Music Director Nicola Luisotti . “I have the great privilege of conducting Turandot, Don Giovanni, Carmen and Attila with wonderful international singers and the great San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The whole season is going to be very special with so much beautiful music, so many new productions, so many extraordinary singers and two fantastic concerts with the Orchestra.”

The 2011–12 Season features the Company debuts of many leading artists, including sopranos Oksana Dyka (Odabella/Attila), Serena Farnocchia (Donna Elvira/Don Giovanni), Susan Foster (Turandot/Turandot), Maria Kanyova (Pat Nixon/Nixon in China), Hye Jung Lee (Madame Mao Tse-tung/Nixon in China), Lisette Oropesa (Romilda/Xerxes), Albina Shagimuratova (The Queen of the Night/The Magic Flute) and Iréne Theorin (Turandot/Turandot); mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey (Zerlina/Don Giovanni); tenors Topi Lehtipuu (Don Ottavio/Don Giovanni), Francesco Meli (Gennaro/Lucrezia Borgia), Simon O’Neill (Mao Tse-tung/Nixon in China), Nathaniel Peake (Tamino/The Magic Flute) and Diego Torre (Foresto/Attila); baritones Paulo Szot (Escamillo/Carmen), Chen-Ye Yuan (Chou En-lai/Nixon in China) and Hyung Yun (Ping/Turandot); bass-baritone Wayne Tigges (Ariodates/Xerxes, Zuniga/Carmen); and basses Morris Robinson (The Commendatore/Don Giovanni) and Marco Vinco (Leporello/Don Giovanni).

Many acclaimed singers will be returning to the War Memorial Opera House, including sopranos Ellie Dehn (Donna Anna/Don Giovanni), Renée Fleming (Lucrezia Borgia/Lucrezia Borgia), Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla/Heart of a Soldier) and Heidi Stober (Atalanta/Xerxes, Pamina/The Magic Flute); mezzo-sopranos Kate Aldrich (Carmen/Carmen), Elizabeth DeShong (Maffio Orsini/Lucrezia Borgia), and Susan Graham (Xerxes/Xerxes); contralto Sonia Prina (Amastris/Xerxes); countertenor David Daniels (Arsamenes/Xerxes); tenors Thiago Arancam (Don José/Carmen), Marco Berti (Calaf/Turandot), William Burden (Daniel J. Hill/Heart of a Soldier), Greg Fedderly (Monostatos/The Magic Flute), Walter Fraccaro (Calaf/Turandot), Alek Shrader (Tamino/The Magic Flute) and Ramón Vargas (Foresto/Attila); baritones Nathan Gunn (Papageno/The Magic Flute), Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla/Heart of a Soldier), Quinn Kelsey (Ezio/Attila), Lucas Meachem (Don Giovanni/Don Giovanni) and Brian Mulligan (Richard Nixon/Nixon in China); bass-baritones Patrick Carfizzi (Henry Kissinger/Nixon in China), David Pittsinger (The Speaker/The Magic Flute) and Christian Van Horn (Timur/Turandot); and basses Raymond Aceto (Timur/Turandot), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Attila/Attila), Vitalij Kowaljow (Alfonso d’Este/Lucrezia Borgia), Samuel Ramey (Pope Leo I/Attila) and Kristinn Sigmundsson (Sarastro/The Magic Flute).

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