S.F. Opera 2015-16 season healthy, wealthy and wise 

With improvements in the economy, the San Francisco Opera’s upcoming season, announced Monday, is larger in scale than in recent years.

After modest seasons the past five years, the company is offering seven fall operas and three in summer 2015. They include a world premiere, three new productions (among them the long-awaited “The Trojans” by Berlioz) and two company premieres: Handel’s 1730 “Partenope” and “Susannah,” a 1955 American opera frequently performed, but not in The City.

Also new: A curtain time of 7:30 p.m. for all evening performances except “The Trojans,” which is at 6 p.m. Post-recession, General Director David Gockley says the company is “getting back to full strength.” He adds, “I am particularly thrilled to present Carlisle Floyd’s beautiful and popular ‘Susannah.’”

Local favorite Patricia Racette will sing the title role of the opera, which is set in rural America. Karen Kamensek, an American music director active in German opera houses, makes her San Francisco debut as conductor; Michael Cavanagh directs.

The world premiere, Gockley’s 40th commissioning project, is Marco Tutino’s “La Ciociara” (“Two Women”), based on a novel by Alberto Moravia and adapted for a 1960 film by Vittorio De Sica starring Sophia Loren.

Anna Caterina Antonacci stars, along with Sarah Shafer, Stephen Costello and Mark Delavan. San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts and Francesca Zambello directs.

The 2014-15 season, with a budget of approximately $76 million, will be Gockley’s next to last. The director will retire in July 2016 after four decades of leading opera companies here and in Houston.

Even in rumor-rich San Francisco, names of potential successors are not making the rounds. However, Gockley’s influence will be felt after his departure, as the opera’s retiring general director is authorized by the board of directors to plan two seasons beyond his retirement.

Planning for Berlioz’s enormous opera about the Trojan War began in earnest more than a decade ago when former General Director Pamela Rosenberg scheduled it, but later canceled due to financial stress.

David McVicar’s controversial and acclaimed production from London’s Royal Opera was created in cooperation with the San Francisco Opera and other companies. Former San Francisco Opera Music Director Donald Runnicles returns to conduct the work, whose cast includes Antonacci, Susan Graham, Bryan Hymel and Sasha Cooke.

Gockley is especially proud of casting Bellini’s “Norma,” one of his favorite operas, with Sondra Radvanovsky. Former Adler Fellow Karanas sings Adalgisa, Marco Berti is Pollione and Christian Van Horn the Orovesto. Kevin Newbury is the director, and Luisotti conducts.

Subscriptions, on sale now, range from $172 to $3,272. Single tickets, on sale June 30, range from $25 to $480. Call (415) 864-3330 or visit www.sfopera.com for details. v IF YOU GO

San Francisco Opera 92nd season

Norma (Bellini): Sept. 5-30

Susannah (Floyd): Sept. 6-21

A Masked Ball (Verdi): Oct. 4-22

Partenope (Handel): Oct. 15-Nov. 2

Tosca (Puccini): Oct. 23-Nov. 8

Cinderella (Rossini): Nov. 9-26

La Boheme (Puccini): Nov. 14- Dec. 2


The Trojans (Berlioz): June 7-July 1

Two Women (Tutino): June 13-30

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart): June 14-July 5

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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