Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto opens San Francisco Opera Summer Season

Release date: 5/2/2017    

 War Memorial Opera House, May 31July 1

Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts cast featuring baritone Quinn Kelsey, soprano Nino Machaidze and tenor Pene Pati

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RIGOLETTO.pdf  Photos Available  

San Francisco Opera’s 2017 Summer Season opens Wednesday, May 31, with Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto at the War Memorial Opera House. Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and an international cast featuring baritone Quinn Kelsey in the title role, soprano Nino Machaidze in her Company debut as Gilda and tenor Pene Pati making his role debut as the Duke of Mantua. In his first San Francisco Opera engagement, English director Rob Kearley will stage this repertory classic.

Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey portrays one of Verdi’s most unforgettable characters: the loving yet vengeful hunchbacked court jester, Rigoletto. Kelsey has emerged as one of the leading Verdi baritones on the operatic stage with acclaimed performances with San Francisco Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opéra National de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich and London’s Royal Opera, Covent Garden. He is especially renowned for his portrayal of the title role in Rigoletto, about which Opera News observed “[It’s] not just the size of his voice or the finish of his technique, although both are impressive. It’s his heart … You hear the pain behind the anger; the man’s vulnerability is evident in every phrase.”

Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze is Gilda, Rigoletto’s sheltered daughter who sacrifices all for a charismatic stranger. Known for her portrayals of a diverse array of operatic heroines, Machaidze was recently praised by LA Weekly as a Verdian interpreter: “The Georgian soprano imbues the softer spaces of Verdi’s elaborate melodies with an intuitive radiance and fills her side of the romantic duets with a majestic presence.”

The Duke of Mantua, Verdi’s carefree seducer who enrages Rigoletto and enthralls Gilda, will be performed by New Zealand tenor Pene Pati. Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “lithe and radiant tone, deep theatrical instincts and plenty of charisma,” Pati performed the role of the Messenger in Verdi’s Aida earlier this season and makes his debut in a leading operatic role with these performances as the Duke. The former Merola Opera Program participant and second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow is also a member of the award-winning, multi-platinum New Zealand vocal group Sol3 Mio with his brother Amitai Pati and cousin Moses Mackay.

In a remarkable coincidence of casting, Pati will be joined on stage by his wife, second-year Adler Fellow soprano Amina Edris (Countess Ceprano) and his brother, first-year Adler Fellow and Sol3 Mio member, tenor Amitai Pati (debut, Matteo Borsa). Featured performers also include bass Reginald Smith, Jr. (debut, Count Monterone), bass Andrea Silvestrelli (Sparafucile), mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde (Maddalena), baritone Andrew G. Manea (debut, Marullo) and bass Anthony Reed (Count Ceprano).

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti leads the cast, Orchestra and Chorus in Verdi’s dramatic score. Company Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer will be on the podium for the final performance on July 1. Acclaimed director Rob Kearley makes his first appearance with the Company directing the popular Giorgio de Chirico-inspired production with sets designed by Michael Yeargan, costumes by Constance Hoffman, lighting by Gary Marder and choreographer Lawrence Pech. Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus.

A cornerstone of the operatic repertory since its 1851 premiere, Verdi’s masterpiece of seduction, betrayal and vengeance continues to win audiences with its propulsive music, fast-moving story and memorable characters. San Francisco Opera has performed Rigoletto in 34 of its 94 seasons, beginning with the inaugural season in 1923 when Company founder Gaetano Merola conducted a cast featuring baritone Giuseppe De Luca as Rigoletto, tenor Beniamino Gigli as the Duke and soprano Queena Mario as Gilda. For more information about the history of Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera, please visit

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of Rigoletto are scheduled for May 31 (7:30 p.m.); June 6 (7:30 p.m.), June 9 (7:30 p.m.), June 14 (7:30 p.m.), June 18 (2 p.m.), June 22 (7:30 p.m.), June 27 (7:30 p.m.); and July 1 (7:30 p.m.), 2017.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

For the complete press release, including calendar listing, please view the attached PDF.