San Francisco Opera Announces 2015-16 Season Programming

Release date: 1/7/2015, REV. 8/11/2015

General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti Announce San Francisco Opera 2015–16 Season Repertory and Casting

Company’s 93rd Season Opens September 11 with a Gala Performance of Verdi’s Luisa Miller Feaaturing Leah Crocetto, Michael Fabiano and Thomas Hampson, Conducted by Nicola Luisotti

The 2015–16 Season Includes: New Production of Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau and Piotr Beczala, Directed by Michael Cavanagh; San Francisco Premiere Of David McVicar’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with Greer Grimsley, Conducted by Mark Elder; Debut of Spanish Director Calixto Bieito’s Controversial Production of Carmen, Conducted by Carlo Montanaro; American Premiere of Double Bill of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Debussy’s La Chute De La Maison Usher, Directed by David Pountney; Company Debut of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with Stephanie Blythe and Gerald Finley, Directed by Lee Blakeley and Conducted by Patrick Summers; Janáček’s Jenůfa Featuring Malin Byström in her Company Debut and Karita Mattila, Conducted by Jiří Bĕlohlávek; San Francisco Opera Revivals Include Don Carlo, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia and The Magic Flute Featuring Nadia Krasteva, Daniela Mack, Nadine Sierra, Krassimira Stoyanova, Paul Appleby, Mariusz Kwiecień, Lucas Meachem and René Pape

Company to Open Diane B. Wilsey Center For Opera in Early 2016 in Veterans Building on War Memorial Campus

Subscription Tickets On Sale January 12, 2015 at 1 P.M. PT. For Tickets and Information, Visit or Call 415-864-3330

2015-16 Season Announcement.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti today announced the Company’s 2015–16 season repertory and roster of  international and critically acclaimed guest artists, conductors and creative teams scheduled to appear at the War Memorial Opera House. The 2015–16 season marks David Gockley’s final season as company general director concluding a distinguished ten-year, seven-month tenure with San Francisco Opera and capping an illustrious, award-winning 44-year career, which included more than three decades at the helm of Houston Grand Opera, as one of the most prominent and respected American opera impresarios of his generation.

San Francisco Opera will present ten operas as part of the new main stage season in addition to a variety of concerts and recitals. In early 2016, the Company will produce, for the first time, a winter/spring season of intimate and innovative operatic works, to be presented in the new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera’s 299-seat Atrium Theater in the Veterans Building adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House.

Beginning Monday, January 12 at 1 p.m. PT, 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. Wilsey Center for Opera programming and ticket information will be announced at a later date. For complete 2015–16 season information, visit

Highlights of San Francisco Opera’s 93rd repertory season include a gala opening on Friday, September 11 with Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller starring Leah Crocetto, Michael Fabiano and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti; the American premiere of The Fall of the House of Usher—a double bill presentation of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Robert Orledge’s reconstruction of Claude Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher—directed by David Pountney and conducted by Lawrence Foster; the Company premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s multi-award–winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring Stephanie Blythe and Gerald Finley, directed by Lee Blakeley and conducted by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers; a new production of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor directed by Michael Cavanagh; the San Francisco premiere of David McVicar’s production of Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, conducted by Mark Elder and starring Greer Grimsley, Brandon Jovanovich and Rachel Willis-Sørensen; and the American operatic debut of controversial Spanish director Calixto Bieito’s raw and physical production of Georges Bizet’s Carmen.

David Gockley said: “Since 2006, I have been privileged to call San Francisco Opera my home. So much of what I have accomplished here would not have been possible without the unshakable commitment of our loyal patrons, subscribers, board of directors and the nearly 800 talented artists and employees who work to produce the finest quality opera on our stage. I have stacked my final season at the helm of this great company with some of my most cherished works, including Verdi’s epic Don Carlo, Sondheim’s Grand Guignol horror show Sweeney Todd, Wagner’s colossal Die Meistersinger and Janáček’s transcendent Jenůfa.”

Nicola Luisotti, who begins his seventh season with the Company this September commented, “It is my great honor to open the 2015–16 season with Luisa Miller and to continue working with San Francisco Opera’s excellent orchestra and chorus. Next season we are bringing the world’s leading singers to San Francisco in very exciting and important repertory that we are very proud to share with opera lovers worldwide.”

Luisotti returns to San Francisco this June to lead the world premiere of noted Italian composer Marco Tutino’s Two Women (La Ciociara) starring Anna Caterina Antonacci. In the 2015–16 season, in addition to Luisa Miller, he conducts a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor with Diana Damrau and Piotr Beczala and Verdi’s compelling Don Carlo featuring Michael Fabiano, Krassimira Stoyanova in her Company debut, Mariusz Kwiecień and René Pape.

In early 2016, San Francisco Opera opens the new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, completing what has been one of David Gockley’s signature projects during his tenure as general director. “Creating this wonderful asset will be our generation’s most important legacy for the Company and the Bay Area community,” said Gockley. “For many years, I’ve wanted to consolidate San Francisco Opera’s diverse activities, which have been located in seven different locations throughout the city, and bring them together on the War Memorial campus. With the Wilsey Center for Opera, we’ll be able to realize much of this goal and create greater operational efficiencies and convenience for our artists, employees and public.”

The Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera will be located in the historic Beaux Arts style Veterans Building, located adjacent to the 1932 War Memorial Opera House. The Wilsey Center for Opera will comprise the top floor of the building, currently undergoing an earthquake seismic retrofit and renovation, and encompass more than 28,000 square feet. This new Company hub will feature the 299-seat Atrium Theater, an intimate and flexible venue that will offer innovative productions of period and contemporary works, as well as programming for young audiences and families. Equipped with a state-of-the-art Constellation acoustic system by Meyer Sound, the Atrium Theater will also accommodate rehearsals, film screenings, lectures, panel discussions, business meetings and receptions. While the Atrium Theater will be the focal point of the Wilsey Center for Opera, the new space will also feature the John M. Bryan Education Studio, the San Francisco Opera Public Archive, the Anderson Norby Costume Shop, administrative offices, and historic and contemporary opera exhibition galleries. The Company will also have an additional 10,000-square-foot space in the building’s basement for Costume Shop storage and fitting rooms.


Luisa Miller – Giuseppe Verdi   / September 1127, 2015

San Francisco Opera’s 93rd Season opens with Giuseppe Verdi’s tragic opera of troubled love amidst political corruption, Luisa Miller. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts a cast headlined by two of opera’s most prominent young singers: soprano Leah Crocetto as Luisa Miller and tenor Michael Fabiano as her beloved Rodolfo. Crocetto, “a major operatic star” (San Francisco Chronicle) and Fabiano, who sings with “stunning emotional power” (San Jose Mercury News) both triumphantly appeared in the Company’s 2014 production of La Bohème. Noted Verdi veteran, baritone Thomas Hampson joins the pair as Luisa’s father. Absent from the War Memorial Opera House stage for 15 years, Verdi’s masterful tale of passion and intrigue is presented in Francesca Zambello’s bold San Francisco Opera production designed by Michael Yeargan and directed by Laurie Feldman. 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Musical Thriller – Stephen Sondheim    / September 12–29, 2015

Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning Sweeney Todd is presented for the first time by San Francisco Opera in a production featuring a cast of notable operatic stars and performed with Sondheim’s original score for the lyric stage (orchestration by Jonathan Tunick). Canadian bass-baritone Gerald Finley and American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe—both in demand at leading opera houses around the world—take on the roles of the tortured barber Sweeney Todd and resourceful meat pie-shop proprietor Mrs. Lovett for the first time. Boasting unforgettable tunes spanning from the darkly humorous “Worst Pies in London” and “A Little Priest” to the hopeful and romantic “Johanna” and “By the Sea,” Sweeney Todd’s “highly charged, arrestingly detailed score” (New York Times) is comprised of a seemingly endless string of hits highlighting every cast member. Conducted by San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers, the ensemble also features Heidi Stober as Johanna, Elliot Madore as Anthony, Matthew Grills as Tobias and Wayne Tigges as the despicable Judge Turpin. This “brilliant” (New York Times) production is directed by Lee Blakeley and designed by Tanya McCallin.  

Lucia di Lammermoor – Gaetano Donizetti   /  October 828, 2015

Two of the world’s most dazzling interpreters of Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor join conductor Nicola Luisotti to bring to life the composer’s bel-canto masterpiece: soprano Diana Damrau as the tortured Lucia and tenor Piotr Beczala as her secret lover Edgardo. Returning to San Francisco Opera following sensational Company appearances respectively as Marie in La Fille du Régiment and Rodolfo in La Bohème, the pair are featured in the premiere of a new San Francisco Opera production directed by Michael Cavanagh and designed by Erhard Rom—the team behind the Company’s “triumphant” (Bay Area Reporter) new Susannah presented in fall 2014.

The Magic Flute – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  / October 20November 20, 2015

San Francisco Opera brings back Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute in Jun Kaneko’s colorful multimedia production directed by Harry Silverstein. Featuring an accomplished cast of young operatic talent, these performances are presented using David Gockley’s English singing translation, with additional English translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin, and are led by prominent American conductor Lawrence Foster in his Company debut. Returning to the Company following successful performances as a “crystalline-toned” (San Jose Mercury News) Musetta in La Bohème and a “magnificent” (San Francisco Chronicle) Ormonte in Partenope, former San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellows soprano Nadine Sierra and bass baritone Philippe Sly are Pamina and Papageno. Tenor Paul Appleby, who was featured in the Metropolitan Opera’s world premiere and subsequent recording of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Tamino. “Audience favorite” Albina Shagimuratova returns to the Company to reprise her role as The Queen of the Night, a performance that “brought down the house with dazzling, pinpoint delivery” (San Francisco Chronicle) in the 2012 premiere of this production. The San Francisco Opera Education Department will present family exploration workshops in conjunction with these performances.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Richard Wagner  /   November 18December 6, 2015

Richard Wagner’s monumental work Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is presented by San Francisco Opera for the first time since 2001 in a “remarkable” (The Guardian), “scintillating” (Seen and Heard)  David McVicar production featuring a stellar cast of noted Wagner interpreters and conducted by Mark Elder in his Company debut. Internationally lauded for his Wagnerian roles such as Wotan in Der Ring des Nibelungen and The Dutchman in Der Fliegende Holländer, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley returns to San Francisco Opera in his role debut as Hans Sachs. Tenor Brandon Jovanovich, recently a “thrillingly pure and tireless” (San Francisco Chronicle) Lohengrin with the Company, is Walther von Stolzing. Soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen makes her San Francisco Opera debut as Eva and Sasha Cooke is Magdalena. McVicar’s production—here directed by Marie Lambertand Ian Rutherford —“brings out the humor and approachability of Wagner's only comedy” (Chicago Tribune) and updates the opera from the original 16th century setting to 1813, the year of the composer’s birth.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) – Gioachino Rossini / November 25December 9, 2015

San Francisco Opera presents encore performances of Gioachino Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) in the critically acclaimed Emilio Sagi production which received its debut in fall 2013, led by Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi. This coloratura showpiece will feature the return of acclaimed baritone Lucas Meachem as Figaro and mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack as Rosina, adding tenor René Barbera—who “brought star power” (San Francisco Chronicle) to his Don Ramiro in the Company’s 2014 production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola—as Count Almaviva. An ideal opera to experience during the holidays as well as with children, the San Francisco Opera Education departmentwillpresent family exploration workshops in conjunction with The Barber of Seville.

The Fall of the House of Usher Double Bill    / December 813, 2015

Usher House – Gordon Getty

La Chute de la Maison Usher – Claude Debussy

Presented for the first time in the United States, The Fall of the House of Usher is an innovative double bill comprises Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Claude Debussy’s La Chute de la Maison Usher, both inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling 1839 short  story. Baritone Brian Mulligan takes on the dual roles of Roderick Usher in both interpretations of the story, and Richard Croft is the Doctor in Debussy’s opera and portrays the author himself in Getty’s Usher House, which receives its U.S. premiere. This double bill provides two contrasting takes on “one of the most transformed pieces of literature ever created” according to director David Pountney. Pountney’s eerie production—designed by Niki Turner—provides an “aptly evocative setting for the Gothic horror writer’s dark imaginings” (The Stage, UK) and features imaginative, other-worldly video projections filmed by David Haneke at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales. Conducted by Lawrence Foster, this presentation marks the American professional premiere of Robert Orledge’s “truly seamless” (The Guardian, UK) reconstruction of Debussy’s unfinished score.

Carmen – Georges Bizet   /    May 27July 3, 2016

A bold, provocative Carmen marks the United States opera debut of the so-called “bad boy of opera,” Spanish director Calixto Bieito. The fiery, tuneful score plays out against Bieito’s sexually-charged, cinematic production, which has been updated to tumultuous post-Franco Spain. In one of two talented casts, mezzo-soprano Irene Roberts is the passionate Gypsy alongside tenor Brian Jagde as Don José, with Zachary Nelson as Escamillo and Nadine Sierra as Micaëla. The other cast is headlined by Ginger Costa-Jackson as Carmen with Riccardo Massi as Don José, Michael Sumuel as Escamillo and Erika Grimaldi as Micaëla. Bieito’s “intelligent, persuasive and intense” (The Guardian, UK) production will be staged by his associate Joan Anton Rechi and conducted by Carlo Montanaro, both making their San Francisco Opera debuts.

Don Carlo – Giuseppe Verdi      /       June 12–29, 2016

One of Giuseppe Verdi’s most iconic political operas, Don Carlo explores a triangle of lovers amidst the backdrop of the brutal Spanish Inquisition. Music Director Nicola Luisotti leads this San Francisco Opera production directed by Emilio Sagi. The exceptional international cast features the return of tenor Michael Fabiano taking on the title role for the first time and the Company debut of celebrated Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Elisabetta. Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva is Princess Eboli and the outstanding roster is completed by Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień as Rodrigo and German bass René Pape as Philip II.

Jenůfa – Leoš Janáček  /  June 14July 1, 2016

Building on an impressive Company history with the works of Czech composer Leoš Janáček, San Francisco Opera welcomes the return of Janáček authority Jiří Bělohlávek to conduct Jenůfa. Swedish soprano Malin Byström makes her Company debut singing the title role for the first time in this critically praised Olivier Tambosi production new to San Francisco. Legendary Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, who brought her “searing dramatic intelligence” (Financial Times) to San Francisco Opera’s 2010 production of Janáček’s Věc Makropulos, will portray Jenůfa’s stepmother Kostelnička and tenor William Burden is Laca Klemeň.

High resolution downloadable photographs of 2015–16 Season productions and artists are available at For complete cast biographies visit



Opening Night Galas, September 11

Opera in the Park, September 13

San Francisco Opera’s 93rd Season opens on Friday, September 11 with Giuseppe Verdi’s Luisa Miller conducted by Music Director Nicola Luisotti—the centerpiece of a spectacular gala evening complemented by two extraordinary social events.

Presented by San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild and hosted by co-chairs Karen Kubin and Jane Mudge, Opera Ball 2015 will indulge guests with a lavish pre-performance champagne reception and sumptuous dinner created by culinary masters, McCalls Catering and Events. Following the season-opening performance of Luisa Miller, thegala—designed by event stylist J. Riccardo Benavides—culminates with a decadent dessert and cocktail reception featuring dancing to live music. 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 11. Hosted by event co-chairs Laurie Diab and Shannon Eliot, the evening features an elegant champagne welcome prior to the opening night performance of Luisa Miller. Following the opera, revelers indulge in a cosmopolitan reception of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and dancing at Jardinière restaurant.

The season-opening weekend concludes with San Francisco Opera in the Park on Sunday, September 13 in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow. This free annual concert features artists from the Company’s Fall 2015 season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Maestro Luisotti.


The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, December 12, 2015

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 concert of opera scenes and arias with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.


Subscriptions for San Francisco Opera’s 2015–16 Season are priced from $192 to $3,286 for Full Series (9 operas) and $78 to $1,838 for Half Series (3 to 5 operas); these prices reflect discounts of up to 30% off single ticket prices. Thematically designed Mini Series (3 or 4 operas) are priced from $104 to $1,264, with savings up to 10%. For travelers, Out of Town Series offer 2 or 3 operas in a 2–3 day period and are priced from $68 to $1,086, also with savings up to 10%. Subscriptions are on sale to new and renewing subscribers beginning January 12, 2015 at 1 p.m. at the San Francisco Opera Box Office by calling (415) 864-3330 or online at  

Single tickets will go on sale beginning June 29, 2015. Single tickets for San Francisco Opera’s 2015–16 Season are priced from $26 to $381. Tickets for Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg are priced from $30 to $410. A $1 facility fee is included in Balcony Side, Rear and Front sections. All other sections include a $2 per ticket facility fee.

The September 13 Opera in the Park concert is free and open to the public; no tickets required. Visit for more information.

Please visit for further details, or call the Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330. San Francisco Opera Box Office hours: Monday 10am–5pm; Tuesday through Friday 10am–6pm; Saturday 10am–6pm beginning January 17 (phone only). All casts, programs, prices and schedules are subject to change.

San Francisco Opera evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances begin at 2 p.m. The exceptions in the 2015–16 Season include Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, which begins at 6 p.m. for evening performances and 1 p.m. for matinees; Don Carlo, which begins at 7 p.m. for evening performances and 1 p.m. for matinees; and the September 11 season opening night performance of Luisa Miller, which will begin at 8 p.m.

All War Memorial Opera House performances (except the September 11 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. Renowned musicologists lead in-depth presentations to familiarize the audience with repertoire from the current season. Admission prices vary. Visit for more information.

Opera Guild Insight Panel Discussions feature renowned artists and personalities from the world of opera who share their insights and experiences during informal panel discussions. Free to Opera members and subscribers, $5 for non-members. Visit for more information.

OperaVision screens, suspended from the ceiling of the balcony section at selected performances, provide close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video. English subtitles appear at the bottom of each screen. OperaVision is made possible by the Koret-Taube Media Suite. See calendar listing for OperaVision dates.

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, casting and calendar, please view the attached PDF.