Gala Time: San Francisco Opera opens its 90th season this evening with Verdi’s grand “Rigoletto”
San Francisco Opera opens its 90th season this evening with a gala celebration, an elegant ball and Verdi’s romantic opera Rigoletto, from 1851, which recounts the tale of the cursed and crippled jester, Rigoletto, who serves his master, the Duke of Matua, in seducing young women and unwittingly murders his own daughter Gilda, whom he has gone to great means to protect. San Francisco Opera’s charismatic Music Director Nicola Luisotti, a Verdi aficionado, will lead the orchestra while opera and theater director Harry Silverstein returns to direct this San Francisco Opera production with sets designed by Michael Yeargan.
Rigoletto: An audience favorite for its captivating and heart-wrenching story and catchy music, Rigoletto will have 12 performances, alternating between two world-class casts and two conductors, Nicola Luisotti and Giuseppe Finzi. Serbian baritone Željko Lucic and Italian baritone Marco Vratogna alternate in role of Rigoletto; Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak and Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova alternate as Gilda. Italian tenor Francesco Demuro and Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz alternate as the Duke of Mantua. Lucic, Kurzak, and Demuro will lead off on Friday evening with Luisotti at the helm. Both casts also feature alumni of the prestigious Merola and Adler training programs.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, including one intermission.
Opera Ball 2012, Notte di Splendore: A highlight of the City’s cultural and philanthropic season, Opera Ball is the Company’s celebrated signature fundraising event co-produced with San Francisco Opera Guild to benefit San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild’s education and community programs. Honorary chairwomen are Cynthia Fry Gunn, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, and Diane B. Wilsey.
Notte di Splendore begins with an elegant pre-performance cocktail reception at 5 p.m. in the historic War Memorial House. A sumptuous dinner by acclaimed chef Lucas Schoemaker of McCall Associates follows in the tented Opera Ball Pavilion, transformed by renowned event architect Robert Fountain into an Italian palace fit for the Duke of Mantua.
At 8 p.m., the curtain rises on the gala opening night performance of Rigoletto. Following the conclusion of the opera, Opera Ball patrons will return to the Opera Ball Pavilion for cocktails, desserts and dancing the night away to the Richard Olsen Orchestra. The event is entirely sold out.
The Gala: The 21st annual BRAVO! CLUB Opening Night Gala starts at 6 p.m. this evening (Friday) with an elegant cocktail reception in the Grand Foyer of the Veterans Building followed by the 8 p.m. opening night performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto. The celebration includes a post-Performance Party, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., in the elegant Green Room of the Veterans Building where the festivities continue with dessert and dancing. More information here.
Sunday’s Grand Slam! Opera in Golden Gate Park: A beloved San Francisco tradition, the annual San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park concert will take place on Sunday, September 9, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. The celebratory event features artists from the Company’s Fall
2012 Season and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Nicola Luisotti. The concert draws thousands of music lovers each year, many of whom enjoy the occasion with elaborate picnics on the lawn. In the event’s time-honored finale, the audience joins with the singers in a rousing rendition of the drinking song (“Libiamo nei’lieti calici”) from Verdi’s La Traviata. This concert, held in Sharon Meadow at Golden Gate Park, is free and open to the public.
Details: War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. One of the last Beaux-Arts structures built in the United States, the Opera House seats 3,146, with 200 standing room places. Every performance features supertitles (English translations) projected above the stage, visible from every seat. Performances: Sept. 7 (8 p.m.), Sept. 8 (8 p.m.), Sept.11 (8 p.m.), Sept. 12 (7:30 p.m.), Sept. 15 (8 p.m.), Sept.16 (2 p.m.), Sept. 18 (8 p.m.), Sept. 19 (7:30 p.m.), Sept.21 (8 p.m.), Sept. 23 (2 p.m.), Sept. 25 (7:30 p.m.) and Sept. 30 (2 p.m.). Tickets: : $22 to $340 at the Box Office, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, by phone at (415) 864-3330, or online at www.sfopera.com. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; $10 each, cash only.
Driving to San Francisco and Parking:
The Sept. 15 performance will be simulcast in a free event at AT&T Park; go to www.sfopera.com/simulcast to register.
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