Andrea Chénier Opens 94th Season, September 9-30


Release date: 7/22/2016   



Opening Night Launches Inaugural Season of the Company's New General Director Matthew Shilvock

Tenor Yonghoon Lee, Soprano Anna Pirozzi and Baritone George Gagnidze Make Their Company Debuts in Performances Conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti in a Lavish Production by Sir David McVicar

Tickets Available at (415) 864-3330 and SFOPERA.COM 


ANDREA CHENIER.pdf   Photos Available

San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season opens Friday, September 9 with a gala performance of Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier in a new production by Sir David McVicar. Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti leads a stellar cast, including three international stars making their San Francisco Opera debuts in the demanding lead roles: South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee in the title role, Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi as Maddalena di Coigny and Georgian baritone George Gagnidze as Carlo Gérard. The opening night festivities are distinguished by San Francisco Opera Guild’s glamorous Opera Ball 2016: La Révolution et L’Amour and BRAVO! Club’s Annual Opening Night Gala. The opening of the Company’s 94th season also marks the beginning of Matthew Shilvock’s inaugural season as General Director. Shilvock is the seventh General Director in the Company’s history.

Last performed by San Francisco Opera in 1992, Giordano’s powerful opera about lovers caught up in the turbulence of the French Revolution returns in a new staging by the director whose productions of Berlioz’s Les Troyens and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences in 2015. Sir David McVicar’s lavish, period interpretation of Andrea Chénier, with sets designed by Robert Jones and costumes designed by Jenny Tiramani, is a co-presentation with London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. When unveiled in London in January 2015, McVicar’s staging was praised as “a ‘realistic’ picture of 18th-century France as it passes from gilded ancien régime splendour to stern revolutionary austerity” (The Telegraph). This vivid realization of Giordano’s passionate tale of love and idealism under the looming shadow of the guillotine will be personally directed by McVicar in its United States premiere at San Francisco Opera.

Filled with soaring arias and duets, including one of the most thrilling finales in all of opera, Andrea Chénier explores this critical period in French history through the love triangle of the patriotic poet Chénier, based on a historical figure who was sent to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror, the young aristocrat Maddalena di Coigny and Carlo Gérard, a servant who rises to become a revolutionary leader and who controls the couple’s fate. South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee, “dramatically intense and vocally elegant” (The New York Times), makes his San Francisco Opera debut in the title role, a favorite among tenors for its passionate, show-stopping arias. The exciting Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi, who “wins hearts and minds through fearsome dramatization and thrilling vocal power” (The Financial Times), performs the role of Maddalena, including her poignant Act III aria, “La mamma morta” (“They killed my mother”). The commanding Georgian baritone George Gagnidze performs arguably the work’s most complex character, Carlo Gérard. In the aria “Nemico della Patria?” (“An enemy of the state?"), Gérard is torn between honor and his love for Maddalena and makes a decision that seals Chénier’s fate.

Giordano populated his opera with several important character roles, each bringing realistic touches to the romantic narrative and revealing how the Revolution affected all aspects of French life. African-American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, a veteran of Lyric Opera of Chicago, will make her San Francisco Opera debut as Bersi. Canadian bass Robert Pomakov portrays the revolutionary Mathieu, baritone David Pershall makes his Company debut as Chénier’s friend Roucher and tenor Joel Sorensen is L’Incredibile, a revolutionary spy. San Francisco Opera Chorus Director Ian Robertson leads the Company’s acclaimed chorus in the crowd scenes that punctuate the work.

Now in his eighth season as San Francisco Opera Music Director, Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this season-opening run of Giordano’s enduring favorite. Luisotti led acclaimed performances last season of Lucia di Lammermoor, Luisa Miller and Don Carlo at San Francisco Opera. During the 2015 summer season, he conducted the world premiere performances of Italian composer Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara). Other recent engagements include Rigoletto at Madrid’s Teatro Real and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Il Trittico and La Traviata at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and Rigoletto at Opéra Bastille in Paris.

Andrea Chénier was the second opera to be presented by the Company during its inaugural season when it was conducted by San Francisco Opera founder Gaetano Merola. The September 27, 1923 performance starred the famous tenor Beniamino Gigli as Chénier, the first in a proud succession of leading tenors to sing the title role with the Company, including Giovanni Martinelli (1930), Mario Del Monaco (1950–1959), Richard Tucker (1955–1965), Franco Corelli (1965) and Plácido Domingo (1975).

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six performances of Andrea Chénier are scheduled for September 9 (8 p.m.), September 14 (7:30 p.m.), September 17 (7:30 p.m.), September 22 (7:30 p.m.), September 25 (2:00 p.m.) and September 30 (7:30 p.m.), 2016.


Andrea Chénier Insight Panel and Guild Preview Lecture Series

Get a rare glimpse into the creative process of our cast and creative team as they share insights about bringing Andrea Chénier to life. The illuminating panel discussion will feature a lively discussion by the artists and a Q&A session. The Insight Panel takes place on Monday, August 29 from 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. Free for San Francisco Opera members, subscribers and students with a valid student ID; $5 for the general public. Pre-registration and tickets are available via Eventbrite; tickets also available at the door. For more information, visit

From August 29–31, Company Dramaturg Dr. Clifford Cranna will give a series of Opera Preview lectures on Andrea Chénier. Presented by Opera Guild Chapters throughout the Bay Area and the San Jose Opera Guild, each 90-minute lecture provides in-depth insight into the opera’s history, composer, story and music. Information can be found at



            Single tickets for Andrea Chénier (not including Opera Ball 2016 gala) are priced from $31 to $397 (subject to change) and may be purchased at or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue or by phone at (415) 864-3330. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only.

             Please note that all evening performances of Andrea Chénier will have a curtain time of 7:30 p.m., except for the September 9 season opening night performance, which begins at 8 p.m. The September 25 matinee performance will begin at 2 p.m.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street. 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 more public transportation information, visit and

            Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about Andrea Chénier and San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season, please visit

For the complete press release, casting and calendar, please view the attached PDF.