San Francisco Opera Announces 2016-17 Season

Release date: 1/11/2016

General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti Announce San Francisco Opera 201617 Season Repertory and Casting

Company's 94th Season Opens September 9 with Giordano's Andrea Chénier; Sir David McVicar Production Features Yonghoon Lee, Anna Pirozzi and George Gagnidze, Conducted by Nicola Luisotti

The 201617 Season Includes:

World Premeire of Dream of the Red Chamber 《紅樓夢》A 21st-Century Opera of Cao Xueqin's Celebrated 18th-Century Novel, By Composer/Co-Librettist Bright Sheng and Co-Librettist David Henry Hwang with Acclaimed Taiwanese Director Stan Lai, Academy Award-Winning Chinese Designer Tim Yip and Conductor George Manahan

 San Francisco Premiere of Laurent Pelly's Don Pasquale Production with Maurizio Muraro, Lawrence Brownlee, Heidi Stober and Lucas Meachem, Conducted by Giuseppe Finzi

RETNA, L.A.-Based Graffiti & Visual Artist, Inspires New Aida Production with Leah Crocetto, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Brian Jagde and George Gagnidze, Directed by Francesca Zambello, Conducted by Nicola Luisotti

San Francisco Opera Revivals Include The Makropulos Case, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Don Giovanni and La Bohème with Casts to Feature Maxim Aksenov, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Erika Grimaldi, Lianna Haroutounian, Audun Iversen, Quinn Kelsey, Nino Machaidze, Ana María Martínez, Nadja Michael, Pene Pati, Scott Quinn, Marco Vinco and Erin Wall

SF Opera Lab Presents Ted Hearne's Oratorio The Source and Anna Caterina Antonacci in Poulenc's La Voix humaine Diane B. Wilsey Center's Taube Atrium Theater, February and March 2017

Subscription Tickets On Sale January 11, 2016 at 1 p.m. PST

For Tickets and Information, Visit or call (415) 864-3330


2016-17 Season Announcement.pdf

San Francisco Opera 2016-17 debut biographies.pdf

Photos Available

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti today announced the Company’s 2016–17 Season repertory and roster of international guest artists, conductors and creative teams scheduled to appear at the War Memorial Opera House, as well as initial programming for SF Opera Lab 2017 presentations at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera’s Taube Atrium Theater. The Company’s 94th Season will also mark Matthew Shilvock’s inaugural year as San Francisco Opera’s new general director, succeeding his mentor and internationally respected impresario, David Gockley, who will step down on July 31, 2016.

David Gockley said: “When I informed the board that I would be retiring after the 2015–16 Season, they gave me the responsibility to program the ’16–17 and ’17–18 Seasons. I have done this, as usual, in close consultation with the Opera’s senior staff, particularly General Director Designate Matthew Shilvock. The new season features a world premiere, three new productions and five revivals with fresh new casting. I am especially excited about the new Aida production by Francesca Zambello with designs by Los Angeles-based graffiti and visual artist RETNA. Complementing the exciting and bigger works on the War Memorial Opera House stage is the new 299-seat Taube Atrium Theater, which gives us the opportunity to offer aggressive and/or unique intimate programming. Ted Hearne’s provocative modern-day oratorio, The Source, and Poulenc’s La Voix humaine starring the astonishing Anna Caterina Antonacci are prime examples of what we hope to offer at the Taube each season.” 

Nicola Luisotti, who will begin his eighth year as San Francisco Opera Music Director in 2016–17, will lead the Company’s opening night in a gala performance on Friday, September 9 of Andrea Chénier, staged in a new and lavish 18th-century period production by Sir David McVicar. Maestro Luisotti will collaborate with director Francesca Zambello for a new and bold interpretation of Aida opening November 5, and will return to launch San Francisco Opera’s summer season on May 31with Rigoletto in a reconceived staging by debuting director Rob Kearley. Luisotti will be on the podium to conduct San Francisco Opera’s annual and popular San Francisco Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on Sunday, September 11.

Highlights of San Francisco Opera’s international season include Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier featuring the Company debuts of South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee, Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi, Georgian baritone George Gagnidze and American mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges in a McVicar co-production from London’s Royal Opera House, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti. Also next season is the world premiere of composer and co-librettist Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, an operatic treatment of Cao Xueqin’s celebrated 18th-century Chinese novel setting an English-language text by co-librettist and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, staged by preeminent Taiwanese director Stan Lai and designed by Academy Award-winning art director Tim Yip, featuring an all-Asian cast conducted by George Manahan. It is followed by the Company debut of renowned Los Angeles visual and graffiti artist RETNA, artistic designer for a new Francesca Zambello production of Verdi’s ancient Egyptian opera Aida starring soprano Leah Crocetto, tenor Brian Jagde, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk and baritone George Gagnidze, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. And famed French director Laurent Pelly’s whimsical production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale marks the Company debut of tenor Lawrence Brownlee, along with San Francisco Opera veterans, bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro, soprano Heidi Stober and baritone Lucas Meachem, conducted by Giuseppe Finzi.

The War Memorial Opera House will welcome revival presentations of Janáček’s The Makropulos Case, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and La Bohème, and new stagings of the Company’s productions of Verdi’s Rigoletto and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. San Francisco Opera will present 68 performances of nine operas in addition to various concerts, recitals and works presented by SF Opera Lab at the Taube Atrium Theater and other Bay Area locations.

Beginning Monday, January 11 at 1 p.m. PST, season tickets will go on sale to current and new subscribers, offering the general public the opportunity to subscribe, save and reserve seats for this memorable opera season. Tickets for 2017 SF Opera Lab performances at the Taube Atrium Theater will go on sale to subscribers beginning this spring. For complete 2016–17 Season information, visit




Andrea Chénier – Umberto Giordano

September 9–30, 2016

Giordano's passionate tale of liberty and love in the French Revolution opens the season in a lavish period production directed by Sir David McVicar, with Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducting the powerful verismo score. Yonghoon Lee, an “outstanding tenor with a melting sound” (The New York Times), makes his San Francisco Opera debut in the title role. Also making Company debuts are the exciting Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi as Maddalena, the young aristocrat who loses everything but her love for Chénier, and the commanding Georgian baritone George Gagnidze as Gérard, the servant who rises to become a revolutionary leader. American mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, a veteran of numerous Lyric Opera of Chicago performances, will make her first San Francisco Opera appearances as Bersi. Last seen here in 1992, Andrea Chénier is presented in a new co-production with Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. London’s Independent praised McVicar’s staging, which debuted last year at the Royal Opera House, as a “scrupulously researched and exquisitely realised production.”

Dream of the Red Chamber紅樓夢–  Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang                                                         

September 10–29, 2016

18th-century Qing Dynasty writer Cao Xueqin’s Dream of the Red Chamber—considered one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature—is the source for this highly anticipated world premiere by renowned Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng. Also known as The Story of the Stone, the opera focuses on a love triangle between the young nobleman Bao Yu and two very different women: Dai Yu, his spiritual soulmate, and Bao Chai, a beautiful heiress. The opera in two acts features an English-language libretto by the composer and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly). Iconic Taiwanese stage director Stan Lai, one of the most celebrated playwrights/directors in Asia, joins forces with Chinese production designer Tim Yip, the Academy Award-winning designer of Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, to bring this visionary work to life. A cast of established and rising Asian singers will star, led by Chinese tenor Yijie Shi (Bao Yu), South Korean soprano Pureum Jo (Dai Yu) and Chinese mezzo-soprano and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Nian Wang (Bao Chai). American maestro George Manahan, known for his advocacy of new works, conducts the lyrical and nostalgic score.

Don Pasquale – Gaetano Donizetti                                                         

September 28–October 15, 2016

Sparkling with virtuosic singing and playful humor, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale returns to San Francisco Opera after an absence of over 30 years. Known for “refreshing every role he touches” (The New Yorker), American tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his long-awaited main stage Company debut as Ernesto alongside Italian bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro in the title role and San Francisco favorites soprano Heidi Stober as Norina and baritone Lucas Meachem as Dr. Malatesta; Meachem shares the role with Adler Fellow Edward Nelson, who sings Dr. Malatesta for two of the six performances. Following his acclaimed productions of La Fille du Régiment (2009) and Les Contes d’Hoffmann (2013), director Laurent Pelly returns to the Company for this fanciful new staging, a co-production with Santa Fe Opera and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. Giuseppe Finzi conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The San Francisco Opera Education Department will present Exploration Workshops for Families in conjunction with these performances.

The Makropulos Case (Věc Makropulos)– Leoš Janáček                            

October 14–29, 2016

Hailed as “the singer-actress of our time” by Opera News, soprano Nadja Michael—who made her Company debut as an electrifying Salome in 2009—stars as the mysterious and seductive Emilia Marty in this revival of one of Janáček’s most intriguing operas. Joining San Francisco Opera for the first time with this assignment, conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov, music director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre, one of Russia’s oldest opera halls, leads a cast that also features tenor Scott Quinn (Albert Gregor), baritone Stephen Powell (Baron Jaroslav Prus), and bass-baritone Dale Travis (Dr. Kolenatý). Director Olivier Tambosi, who also directs Jenůfa in June 2016, brings his inventive production back to the War Memorial Opera House stage.

Aida – Giuseppe Verdi                                                                               

November 5December 6, 2016

Verdi’s grand Egyptian epic is presented in a bold new staging by director Francesca Zambello inspired by contemporary L.A. visual artist RETNA, who makes his Company debut as production artistic designer. One of today’s most celebrated graffiti artists, RETNA combines elements of traditional street art with hieroglyphics and Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy. Soprano Leah Crocetto, acclaimed for her performances as Luisa Miller last fall, and tenor Brian Jagde both make their respective role debuts as the Ethiopian slave girl Aida and the military hero Radames. Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, the cast also features Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk (Amneris), Georgian baritone George Gagnidze (Amonasro) and American bass Raymond Aceto (Ramfis). San Francisco Opera Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer leads the final performance. The production team also includes set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Anita Yavich and lighting designer Mark McCullough. Aida is a co-production with Washington National Opera and Seattle Opera.

Madama Butterfly – Giacomo Puccini                                                  

November 6December 4, 2016

Puccini’s ever-popular opera pairs soprano Lianna Haroutounian as Cio-Cio-San with exciting young Russian tenor Maxim Aksenov as Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton. Haroutounian made her memorable Company debut as Floria Tosca in 2014. Of that performance the San Francisco Chronicle said:“One of the great aspects of [Haroutounian’s] phenomenal San Francisco Opera debut was the way she turned her musical gifts to the service of that conception. You could listen to her singing Puccini’s music all night long, and marvel at the beauty, precision and power that she packed into every measure of the performance.” Rounding out the cast are mezzo-soprano and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Zanda Švēde (Suzuki), baritone Anthony Clark Evans (Sharpless) and tenor Julius Ahn (Goro). This revival of visual artist Jun Kaneko’s “exhilarating” (San Jose Mercury News)and “beautiful and inventive production” (San Francisco Chronicle) is directed by Leslie Swackhamer and conducted by Yves Abel; Jordi Bernàcer conducts the last performance.

Rigoletto – Giuseppe Verdi                                                                          

May 31–July 1, 2017

Verdi’s vivid tale of seduction, betrayal and bitter revenge returns to the repertory with three widely lauded artists heading the cast, led by Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey as the vengeful court jester. Kelsey “could be a Rigoletto for the ages. His richly modulated voice, musical intelligence and dramatic physicality are exactly what the role demands. He gave a stupendous performance…” said Canada’s The Globe and Mail. Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze makes her Company debut as Gilda. Machaidze’s international career was launched in 2007 with her Marie in La Fille du Régiment at La Scala, followed by her 2008 Salzburg Festival debut as Juliette in a new production of Roméo et Juliette opposite Rolando Villazón, and subsequent debuts at many of the world’s major theaters. Tenor Pene Pati, the Samoan-born New Zealander and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, makes his role debut as the philandering Duke. Nicola Luisotti conducts, with the exception of the final performance led by Jordi Bernàcer. The San Francisco Opera production, designed by Michael Yeargan, will be presented in a new staging by director Rob Kearley in his Company debut.

Don Giovanni – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart                   

June 4–30, 2017

Notable Company debuts and an inventive restaging herald the return of Don Giovanni. In his first San Francisco Opera appearance, French conductor Marc Minkowski, known for his outstanding work in opera and with leading European orchestras, leads the dynamic cast. Debuting Italian bass-baritone Ildebrando D’Arcangelo, whose “swaggering confidence and dangerous sex appeal act like a powerful audience magnet” (Los Angeles Times), stars in the title role. Regularly appearing at the world’s leading opera houses, Don Giovanni is central to D’Arcangelo’s repertory today; in recent seasons, he has performed the role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, La Scala, Salzburg Festival and Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. D’Arcangelo is joined by Canadian soprano Erin Wall in her first appearance with the Company as Donna Anna, soprano Ana María Martínez (Donna Elvira), bass Marco Vinco (Leporello), tenor Stanislas de Barbeyrac (Don Ottavio), soprano Sarah Shafer (Zerlina) and bass-baritone Michael Sumuel (Masetto). Italian director Jacopo Spirei, winner of the 2012–13 season audience prize for best production at Salzburg Landestheater for his Così fan tutte, makes his San Francisco Opera debut with a reconceived staging of the Company’s 2011 production, featuring projections and scenic adaptations by Tommi Brem.

La Bohème – Giacomo Puccini                                                                                 

June 10–July 2, 2017

Puccini’s timeless story of love, heartbreak and the fragility of life returns by popular demand. Italian soprano Erika Grimaldi, who debuts with the Company this summer in Carmen, is the consumptive Mimì and Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz is her star-crossed lover Rodolfo. Soprano Julie Adams will star as Mimì opposite Chacón-Cruz for two performances. The cast also includes Norwegian baritone Audun Iversen, recently seen as Figaro in 2013’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as Marcello and soprano Ellie Dehn as Musetta. Director John Caird’s production, first seen in the 2014–15 Season, is designed by Olivier Award-winning scenic designer David Farley. Farley’s setting is conceived as a collage of canvases by the painter Marcello and is inspired by the artistic brilliance and romance of France’s Belle Époque. Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus.




THE SOURCE – Ted Hearne and Mark Doten                                         

February 24–26, March 1–3, 2017


“…The Source prompts dinner-table debates and lingers in the mind. It offers a fresh model of how opera and music theater can successfully tackle contemporary issues…” (The New York Times, October 2014)


“Hurling from propulsive small-ensemble chamber rock to eerie Auto-Tuned ruminations, Mr. Hearne’s oratorio about Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks doesn’t aim to score easy political points. Instead it does what great art should: It pushes you to think and feel about the world in new ways…“The Source” (with a brilliant collage libretto by Mark Doten) is remarkable and essential.” (The New York Times on The Source album, released by New Amsterdam Recordsin October 2015)


SF Opera Lab presents The Source, composer Ted Hearne’s “ambitious, bewildering, stealthily shattering new oratorio”(The New York Times)about Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), the US Army private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. The work for four singers and an ensemble of seven musicians features a libretto by Mark Doten thatsets Manning's words and primary-source documents, including sections of the classified material known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary. The Source—with production design by Jim Findlay and video design by Jim Findlay and Daniel Fish—was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2014 in a Beth Morrison Production directed by Daniel Fish. Composer, singer and bandleader Ted Hearne (b. 1982) draws on a wide breath of influences ranging across music’s full terrain, to create intense, personal and multi-dimensional works. His works include another acclaimed oratorio, Katrina Ballads; a collaboration with hip-hop/soul icon Erykah Badu; and Law of Mosaics for string orchestra. Hearne’s recent and upcoming commissions include orchestral works for the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and New World Symphony.


LA VOIX HUMAINE – Francis Poulenc                                                                 

March 11, 14, 17, 2017


“Ms. Antonacci’s remarkable talent is a suspension between artifice and naturalness, theatricality and subtlety. She may be putting on an act, but she’s also telling the truth.” (The New York Times/La Voix humaine, March 2015) 


“[Antonacci] was fully in control of her resources as she applied her enormous palette of vocal colors and inflections to portray, with an almost unbearably lifelike immediacy, a woman losing control…Every syllable in this performance cut to the quick, as did Antonacci’s mobile face and astute body language, their communicative power amplified by the close quarters.” (Opera News/La Voix humaine, March 2015) 


La Voix humaine, Poulenc’s searing lyric tragedy from 1959 with a text by Jean Cocteau, is a one-act, one-character monologue about a woman who, rejected by her lover, engages in a farewell phone conversation with him. Renowned Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, acclaimed for her tour-de-force interpretation of the role, returns to San Francisco Opera following her previous engagements with the Company in Ermione, Norma, Les Troyens and the world premiere of Tutino’s Two Women. Accompanying Ms. Antonacci will be her frequent collaborator, “the lucid, sensitive pianist” (The New York Times) Donald Sulzen. This program will include other musical works to be announced at a later date.


The Source and La Voix humaine are presented as part of SF Opera Lab’s second season in the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater in the Company’s new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera (located in the Veterans Building in San Francisco). SF Opera Lab, the newly formed producing division of San Francisco Opera dedicated to innovative and eclectic programming, launches its inaugural season in March 2016. Additional programming for SF Opera Lab’s 2017 season will be announced at a later date. For more information about SF Opera lab, visit



Opening Night Galas, September 9

Opera in the Park, September 11


San Francisco Opera’s 94th Season opens on Friday, September 9 with Andrea Chénier, Umberto Giordano’s passionate drama of heroism and sacrifice during the French Revolution. Conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Andrea Chénier is the U.S. premiere of Sir David McVicar’s acclaimed period production and the centerpiece of a spectacular evening complemented by two gala events.


Presented by San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild and hosted by co-chairs Sandra Farris and Patricia Sprincin, Opera Ball 2016 will indulge guests with a lavish pre-performance reception and sumptuous dinner. After the season-opening performance of Andrea Chénier, guests will enjoy dancing and further celebration. Opera Ball benefits San Francisco Opera and the Opera Guild’s many education and community programs.


San Francisco Opera’s BRAVO! CLUB—a group of young professionals and opera lovers—also presents its annual Opening Night Gala on September 9.Hosted by event co-chairs Lauren Groff and Kari Lincks, the celebration begins with an elegant pre-performance reception and continues with an after-party and dancing.


The season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 11 in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s fall 2016 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.



The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, December 2


San Francisco Opera presents The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, featuring the talented artists from San Francisco Opera Center’s prestigious young artist training program, in a special concert of opera scenes and arias with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at the Herbst Theatre.

High resolution downloadable photographs of 2016–17 Season productions and artists are available at For cast biographies, visit




Subscriptions for San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season are priced from $189 to $3,393 for Full Series (8 or 9 operas) and $84 to $1,885 for Half Series (4 or 5 operas); these prices reflect discounts of up to 60% off single ticket prices. Thematically designed Mini Series (3 or 4 operas) start at $105. For travelers, the Out of Town Series offer 2 or 3 operas in a 2–3 day period starting at $66. Subscriptions go on sale to new and renewing subscribers beginning January 11, 2016 at 1 p.m. PST at the San Francisco Opera Box Office by calling (415) 864-3330 or online at


Single ticketsfor the 2016–17 Season, priced from $26 to $397, will go on sale beginning June 27, 2016. A $1 facility fee is included in Balcony 1, Balcony 2 and Balcony 3 sections. All other sections include a $2 per ticket facility fee.


Tickets for The Source, La Voix humaine and other 2017 SF Opera Lab presentations will go on sale to San Francisco Opera subscribers this spring. Complete ticket information, including single ticket on-sale dates, and additional programming for SF Opera Lab’s 2017 season will be announced at a later date.


Please visit for further details, or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330. San Francisco Opera Box Office hours: Monday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.– 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. beginning January 16 (Saturdays phone only). All casts, programs, prices and schedules are subject to change.


San Francisco Opera evening performances at the War Memorial Opera House begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances begin at 2 p.m., with the exception of the September 9 season opening performance of Andrea Chénier, which will begin at 8 p.m.


All War Memorial Opera House performances (except the September 9 season opening) feature an informative Pre-Opera Talk 55 minutes prior to curtain. Pre-Opera Talks are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance. Visit more information.


Opera Guild Preview Lectures are scheduled in communities throughout the greater Bay Area by local Guild chapters. The insightful and in-depth presentations familiarize audiences with repertoire from the current season. Admission prices vary. Visit for more information.


Opera Guild Insight Panel discussions feature cast and creative teams from select operas in informal panel discussions (see attached calendar for dates and more information).


OperaVision screens, suspended from the ceiling of the balcony section at selected performances, show close-ups of the action on stage in high-definition video (see attached calendar for OperaVision dates). English subtitles appear at the bottom of each screen. OperaVision is made possible by the Koret/Taube Media Suite.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue. Patrons are encouraged to use public transportation to attend San Francisco Opera performances. The War Memorial Opera House is within walking distance of the Civic Center BART Station and near numerous bus lines, including 5, 21, 47, 49 and the F Market Street. For further public transportation information, visit and     

For the complete press release, calendar, and biographies, please view the attached PDFs.