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S.F. Opera Plans: Wagner Ring Next Summer, Five Operas This Fall

January 17, 2017

Long before San Francisco Opera’s 2017 summer season – Verdi’s Rigoletto (May 31-July 1), Mozart’s Don Giovanni (June 4-30), and Puccini’s La Boheme (June 10-July 2) — SFO Executive Director Matthew Shilvock and Music Director Nicola Luisotti today announced details of plans for the 2017–2018 season.

Shilvock, who succeeded David Gockley at the end of the last season, told SFCV that this is “David's final season, a celebration of his work ... he planned so much of this during several years.” The 2018-2019 season, Shilvock said, will be his first, although supported by Gockley, who now has the title of general director emeritus.

Although the 2017 fall season’s five productions come first, the focus of attention is on the summer 2018 reprise of The Ring of the Nibelung, which takes up a good chunk of the season’s approximately $78 million operating budget. (Without individual operas in preparation for the full cycles and with sets and costumes all ready, the estimated $23 million cost for the 2009-2011 Ring will be significantly less this time.)

The fall season begins on Sept. 8, with something familiar, the picturesque David Hockney production of Puccini’s Turandot, first seen here almost a quarter century ago, and now repeated the seventh and eighth time. Performances again will come in two series, one in September, with Martina Serafin in the title role; the other, in November-December is headed by Nina Stemme. Brian Jagde is Calaf. Luisotti conducts in the fall, Christopher Franklin makes his local debut on the podium in the winter.

Richard Strauss’ Elektra will have six performances in a September premiere, a coproduction with companies in Prague and Karlsruhe. Christine Goerke appears in the title role, Stephanie Blythe sings Klytemnestra, Adrianne Pieczonka is Chrysothemis; Henrik Nánási makes his conducting debut. Shilvock praises the Keith Warner production, which focuses on the Jungian Elektra complex (“rather than Elektra the opera,” wrote one reviewer in Prague).

Verdi’s La Traviata, an always reliable warhorse, will run 10 times in September and October, conducted by Luisotti, in the John Copley production. Romanian soprano Aurelia Florian makes her U.S. debut in the title role, Atalla Ayan and Arthur Rucinski will have their San Francisco debuts as Alfredo and Giorgio Germont, respectively.

Merola and Adler alumna Nadine Sierra’s skyrocketing career has taken her to recent debuts at the Met, La Scala, and Opéra National de Paris. She will sing the title role of Massenet’s Manon in the War Memorial in six November performances, partnered by Michael Fabiano as des Grieux. Patrick Fournillier conducts, in Vincent Boussard’s production.

The fall season concludes with the commissioned world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, dealing with the same period as Puccini’s 1910 La fanciulla del West. Peter Sellars is the author of the libretto and the stage director. The cast includes Julia Bullock, J’Nai Bridges, Hye Jung Lee (Madame Mao in Nixon in China), and San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Lorena Feijoo as Lola Montez.

Subscriptions for the fall season, on sale beginning today, are priced from $105 to $1,890 for the full series of five opera; there are special offers to students and teachers. For the 2018 Ring cycle, ticket prices for the four operas range from $190 to $3,420, also going on sale today

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at janosg@gmail.com.

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