January is usually the month when the San Francisco Opera (SFO) announces its plans for its next season. The announcement generally takes place just before subscribers receive their annual renewal package. It thus seems appropriate at this time to provide a brief review of the performances that will be available to the general public this summer through the Merola Opera Program, the operatic training program that operates in collaboration with SFO.
As usual, the “main events” of the season will be the fully-staged productions of two operas:
- The first of these will be André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire, with a libretto by Philip Littell based on the play by Tennessee Williams of the same name. This opera was given its world premiere by SFO on September 19, 1998 with Renée Fleming and Rod Gilfry in the leading roles of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. This will be the first time the opera has received a revival production in San Francisco. For this occasion Peter Grunberg is preparing a revision of the score for a reduced orchestra, which will be conducted by Mark Morash. The staging will be by director José Maria Condemi. The opera will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 10, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 12.
- Previn’s twentieth-century account of raw passion will be complemented by the eighteenth-century perspective of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a production staged by James Darrah and conducted by Martin Katz. This opera will also receive two performances. These will again be at 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday (July 31) and 2 p.m. on a Saturday (August 2).
The other event that will receive two performances will be the annual Schwabacher Summer Concert. The program for this concert is a diverse collection of opera scenes that provide an excellent opportunity to savor the talents of the participating “Merolini.” The first performance will again be on a Thursday evening, 7:30 p.m. on July 17. This will be followed by a free repeat of the same program at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 19. The free concert will take place in Yerba Buena Gardens, supported, as always, by the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. The Merola season will then conclude with a Grand Finale, another program of scenes, which, by tradition, are staged in a common framework. This will take place on the stage of the War Memorial Opera House beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 16.
Venues have not yet been set for those events other than the free Yerba Buena concert and the Grand Finale. This information will be available by May, which is when tickets will go on sale. However, given the heavy demand for all of these performances, opera-lovers would do well to start marking the dates in their calendars.