The fourth season of San Francisco Opera’s Grand Opera Cinema Series has already opened in the city, and the next scheduled HD screenings of three of the Company’s highly acclaimed productions start on March 26 at Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in Post Street.
This Cinema Series is the result of a partnership between San Francisco Opera and Sundance Cinemas, whereby the Company’s productions are distributed to arts centers, independent film theaters and universities in the Western region of the country, as well as further afield.
San Francisco Opera launched its digital cinema series in Spring 2008 with its presentation of La Rondine, Samson and Delilah, Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly to movie theaters across the country. In Fall 2010, La Bohème, Tosca, Lucia di Lammermoor and The Elixir of Love were added to the series, and in Winter 2011, The Magic Flute, Otello, Salome and Il Trittico were included.
This year’s season opened with George and Ira Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in early March, and the next production, Aida, is to be screened on March 26 and 30. First presented in 2010, it was designed by Zandra Rhodes - a “fantastically colorful production”, according to San Francisco Classical Voice - and directed by Jo Davies. It features Italian soprano, Micaela Carosi, in the title role, and mezzo-soprano, Dolora Zajick, as Aida’s love rival, Amneris. Tenor, Marcello Giordani, is Radames, the military hero who is the focus of the love triangle around which the story revolves, and baritone, Marco Vratogna, sings Amonasro, Aida’s father. Ramfis, the Egyptian King - and father of Amneris - is sung by Hao Jiang Tian. The conductor is San Francisco Opera Director, Nicola Luisotti.
Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, which follows on May 11 and 14, is described as “a theatrical experience of searing intensity” set against the sumptuous pageantry and political intrigue of mid-16th czarist Russia. American bass-baritone, Samuel Ramey, stars in the title role of the Russian ruler who is haunted by a terrible act committed years earlier. John Uhlenhopp is Prince Shuisky, Vitalij Kowaljow sings Pimen, Vsevolod Grivnov is Grigory and Varlaam is sung by Vladimir Ognovenko. The conductor of this 2008 production is Vassily Sinaisky, production design is by Göran Wassberg, with direction by Julia Pevzner.
Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia is the final production in this series. The libretto was written by Felice Romani, after Victor Hugo’s play, which in turn was based on the legend of Lucrezia Borgia. The opera was first performed on December 26, 1833 at La Scala. This production stars soprano, Renée Fleming, in the title role - portraying a powerful woman whose vulnerability is revealed when she meets her long-lost son, Gennaro, sung by American tenor, Michael Fabiano. Mezzo-soprano, Elizabeth DeShong, is Maffio Orsini and Vitalij Kowaljow is Alfonso d’Este. This production, first staged in 2011 and created for Renée Fleming, was designed and directed by John Pascoe, with Riccardo Frizza conducting.
These performances were all recorded live, in high definition, at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, and include English subtitles. All performances feature the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus under Chorus Director, Ian Robertson.
During the intermission at the screenings, there are behind the scenes interviews, and prior to the Saturday morning showings, San Francisco Opera’s education department presents free, 25-minute lectures which begin at 9.30 am.
Tickets for San Francisco Opera’s Grand Opera Cinema Series are available at the Sundance Kabuki box office or via sundancecinemas.com, where you can find more information about the cinemas. You can also call (415) 346-3243.
For more information about San Francisco Opera’s Grand Opera Cinema Series, including additional theaters screening the series, and further information and video clips of the productions, visit sfopera.com/cinemaseries.