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San Francisco Opera Begins Fifth Season of Broadcasts on KQED

San Francisco Opera opens its 2014/15 Season on Friday, September 5 with Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma. The production will run for seven performances through Tuesday, September 30. On Thursday, September 4, San Francisco Opera’s 2012 presentation of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi will begin the fifth season of KQED’s broadcasts of the company’s productions in high-definition. Four productions follow, including Attila (Verdi), Mefistofele (Boito), Rigoletto (Verdi), and Porgy and Bess (Gershwin). Each production will be broadcast four times.

Ferruccio Furlanetto as "Attila"
Ferruccio Furlanetto as "Attila"Corey Weaver

I Capuleti e i Montecchi is a co-production with Bavarian State Opera. Conducted by Riccardo Frizza and with stage direction by Vincent Boussard, Bellini’s 1830 work is not based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The libretto for this tale of star-crossed lovers was written by Felice Romani who also wrote the libretto for Bellini’s Norma. The production features mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as “Romeo” and soprano Nicole Cabell as Giulietta. Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu appears as “Tebaldo” (betrothed to Giulietta), baritone Ao Li as “Lorenzo” (a doctor, not priest, to the Capuleti), and bass-baritone Eric Owens as “Capellio” (Giulietta’s father). Mr. Owens also appears as “Porgy” in the broadcasts scheduled for October. I Capuleti e i Montecchi is scheduled for broadcasts on 9/4, 5, 8, 9.

Verdi’s Attila broadcasts Thursday, 9/11,12, 15, 16. The opera opened at the War Memorial on June 12, 2012. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts this co-production with Teatro alla Scala featuring Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role, Nathaniel Peake (Uldino), Lucrecia Garcia (Odabella), and a spectacular cameo appearance by Samuel Ramey (Pope Leo I). During my interview with him at the time, Mr. Ramey – whose earlier career included international success in the title role – said to be sure “not to blink.” Nevertheless, surrounded by cherubs and soldiers, the scene is a great example of Verdi’s love of theatrical bravado.

Arrigo Boito’s Mefistofele opened the 2013/14 Season on September 6, 2013. The sumptuous production by Robert Carsen features dynamic Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov (Mephistopheles), Ramon Vargas (Faust) and soprano Patricia Racette (Margherita). The production is bolstered by the dazzling work of the San Francisco Opera Chorus directed by Ian Robertson. The final scene is visually awesome as Heaven triumphs in Satan’s defeat. Mefistofele will be broadcast 9/25, 26, 29, 30.

Serbian baritone Željko Lučić is featured in the title role of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The appealing set designs by Michael Yeargan are based on the architectural paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. The international cast also includes Serbian tenor Franceso Demuro (Duke of Mantua) and Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak (Gilda). Broadcasts of this colorful production are scheduled for October 2, 3, 6 and 7.

Porgy and Bess (aka, The Gershwins® Porgy and Bess) opened June 9, 2009 at SFOpera and ran for seven performances. George Gershwin’s classic American opera received magnificent reviews for its stunning cast which featured Eric Owens (Porgy), Laquita Mitchell (Bess), Chauncey Packer (Sportin’ Life), and former Adler Fellow Karen Slack (Serena). Directed by Francesca Zambello, the score includes some of Gershwin’s signature melodies, including – I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and Summertime. The broadcasts begin Friday, October 17, at 9pm on KQED 9.

Click here for more information on San Francisco Opera’s 2014/15 Season.