San Francisco Opera Announces Casting Update for Massenet's Manon, Opening November 4

Release date: 7/10/2017    


Ellie Dehn to Make Her Role Debut as Manon, Replacing Nadine Sierra 

Manon Cast Update 2017.pdf  Photos Available  

San Francisco Opera today announced a cast change for Jules Massenet’s Manon, opening November 4 and running for six performances through November 22, 2017. American soprano Ellie Dehn will essay her role debut as Manon, one of the most enticing heroines of the French repertory, replacing Nadine Sierra who has withdrawn. Sierra said her decision to leave the production was “an extremely difficult one to make, but after considerable deliberation I realized the role was simply too heavy at this point in my vocal development.”

Ellie Dehn thrilled San Francisco Opera audiences earlier this summer as Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème in what the San Francisco Chronicle called a “sumptuous, sparkling turn as the sexually irresistible Musetta—her Act 2 rendition of the showpiece ‘Quando me’n vo’ was as joyous and witty as ever.” She joins a Manon cast, which also features star tenor Michael Fabiano in his highly anticipated role debut as Chevalier des Grieux, that returns this Belle Epoque gem to the Company’s repertory after a 19-year absence in a new production directed by Vincent Boussard and conducted by Massenet specialist Patrick Fournillier. Dehn is excited to add Manon to her repertory and has already made plans to visit Paris and the Church of Saint-Sulpice as part of her preparation. She said, "It's an honor to take on Manon for the wonderful audiences in San Francisco. I look forward to bringing this iconic role to life next season."

Dehn has performed on the world’s leading stages, including London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera and Naples’ Teatro di San Carlo, and she sings at Grand Théâtre de Genève prior to her return to San Francisco Opera. Dehn first appeared locally in 2010 as Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. In subsequent engagements with the Company, she completed the Mozart—Da Ponte trilogy of operas with performances as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (2011) and Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (2013), and also performed in La Bohème and Bizet’s Carmen, the latter in the production by controversial Spanish director Calixto Bieito. Other recent successes include her debut at Covent Garden as Countess Almaviva in a new production by David McVicar, Donna Elvira with the Metropolitan Opera, Donna Anna with the Bavarian State Opera and Oper Köln, Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff with San Diego Opera, the title role in Dvořák’s Rusalka with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and her debut at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala as Antonia in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

A Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions in 2005, Dehn made her first appearance with that company as Marguerite in a concert performance of Gounod’s Faust at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park (2007) and then her house debut as Mrs. Naidoo in Philip Glass’ Satyagraha (2008). At a 2012 performance of Don Giovanni at the Met, NPR host Garrison Keillor was in the audience and, after a quick glance in the program, realized that he and Dehn were from the same town: Anoka, Minnesota. The coincidence led to Dehn appearing on Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion as a special guest on multiple occasions.

Along with Dehn and Fabiano, San Francisco Opera’s cast for Manon also features baritone David Pershall as Lescaut, bass James Creswell as Comte des Grieux, baritone Timothy Mix as De Brétigny and tenor Robert Brubaker as Guillot. Vincent Boussard, whose production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi was presented at San Francisco Opera in 2012, returns to direct this new interpretation of Manon, a co-production with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and The Israeli Opera, featuring sets designed by Vincent Lemaire, costumes designed by Boussard and lighting by Gary Marder. Patrick Fournillier conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the chorus is prepared by Ian Robertson.

Last performed by the Company in 1998, Manon has featured many charismatic sopranos in the title role since the opera entered San Francisco Opera’s repertory in 1924 on the stage of the Civic Auditorium. Soprano Thalia Sabanieva portrayed Manon at that premiere performance, opposite the Des Grieux of Italian tenor Tito Schipa. When Ellie Dehn takes on the role in November 2017, she will add her interpretation to the distinguished line of San Francisco Opera sopranos who performed this famous operatic heroine, including Lucrezia Bori, Bidú Sayão, Grace Moore, Licia Albanese, Dorothy Kirsten, Leyla Gencer, Beverly Sills, Reri Grist, Sheri Greenawald and Ruth Ann Swenson.

*For the complete press release, please view the attached PDF.