Sonya Yoncheva & Plácido Domingo – Gala Concert streamed from Sofia

The Saint Alexander Nevsky Square in Sofia is the setting for a highly-anticipated Gala Concert on August 31st, when soprano Sonya Yoncheva and baritone Plácido Domingo appear with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nayden Todorov.

Against the backdrop of the magnificent Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, these illustrious stars will present a selection of arias and duets in a performance which is to be streamed live from Bulgaria, with an on-demand concert available to watch immediately afterwards.

Regarded as one of opera’s most versatile artists, Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva has appeared – in highly acclaimed performances – in some of the world’s finest opera houses. Ms Yoncheva’s expansive repertoire ranges from Baroque composers such as Purcell, to Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Dvořák and Bizet – as comfortable on the concert and recital stage as she is in opera.

Ms Yoncheva’s most recent appearances include a performance earlier this month at the Arena di Verona as Violetta Valéry in Verdi’s La Traviata – which she has also sung at the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Zurich Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and in a new production at Staatsoper Unter den Linden, prompting Die Welt to hail her as “the finest Violetta since Maria Callas” and “possibly the best Traviata in the world at present”. This was followed by an all-Italian programme with the Donizetti Opera Ensemble at the Salzburg Festival.

Sonya Yoncheva has just been named an honorary citizen of her hometown Plovdiv in Bulgaria, followed by the announcement that her Rebirth concert has won her the title of Singer of the Year in the 2021 Opus Klassik Awards.

Singer, conductor, cultural impresario and entrepreneur, Plácido Domingo has been appearing on stages across the globe for over half a century, with engagements in leading opera houses, and in concerts marking some of the greatest international events. He has an impressive repertoire of over 150 roles which span more than 4000 performances, and – having recorded over 100 complete operas, compilations of arias and duets, and crossover discs – Mr Domingo has 12 Grammy Awards to his name – three of which are Latin Grammys. He has also recorded more than 50 music videos, and is the recipient of two Emmy Awards.

He is Chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, President of Europa Nostra and the Founder of Operalia, the World Opera Competition.

Plácido Domingo was most recently honoured with the Bellini d’oro Award, following his appearance as conductor of the Teatro Massimo Bellini Orchestra in the first of two extraordinary performances of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the gorgeous Teatro Greco Antico di Taormina, in Sicily. Leo Nucci (also a Bellini d’oro) sang the title role, with Federica Guida as Gilda.

Sonya Yoncheva and Plácido Domingo will be accompanied by the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nayden Todorov. Also a native of the city of Plovdiv, Maestro Todorov has had a special bond with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, since his debut performance with them in 2001 at the UNESCO Hall in Paris. In 2004 he was named permanent guest conductor of the Orchestra, following which he became principal guest-conductor, and from the beginning of 2017 was elected director of the Sofia Philharmonic. His repertoire covers a wide range of genres – opera, ballet, symphonic and film music – and he has guested on the stages of many major cultural centres across Europe, as well as in Asia, Africa and the United States.

Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathredal, Sofia, Bulgaria

The gold-domed Neo-Byzantine Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built in the early 20th century in memory of the 200,000 Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian and Bulgarian soldiers, who died in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, which resulted in Bulgaria’s liberation from Ottoman rule. One of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, it is the cathedral church of the Patriarch of Bulgaria and is one of the symbols of Sofia, as well as one of the city’s primary tourist attractions. It was named in honour of 13th century Russian prince, Alexander Nevsky, who was canonised in 1547.

The open-air Gala Concert on August 31st will be video streamed live at 5:30pm UTC (6.30 pm UK, 7:30pm Central European Time, 1:30pm Eastern Time). An on demand video will be available immediately after the concert. To vew the concert, follow this link.

Information sourced from:

Artists’ websites

Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Saint Alexander Nevsky

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SFJAZZ Collective plays Jobim on ‘Fridays at Five’

The SFJAZZ Collective at the San Francisco Jazz Center – © Don Dixon

This week’s Fridays at Five session from SFJAZZ features the SFJAZZ Collective a group of musicians with an enviable international reputation, based at San Francisco’s JAZZ Center. This week’s streamed performance is devoted to the creator of the bossa nova style of music, Antônio Carlos Jobim.

Founded by SFJAZZ in 2004, the Collective is a leaderless group, very much representative of the current jazz scene, and in honoring some of the genre’s greatest figures, the group maintains the SFJAZZ commitment to jazz as a living, relevant, art form. Every year, the Collective aims to perform an original piece written by each of its members, as well as new arrangements of numbers by a modern master of jazz. Over their seventeen-year existence, the Collective has paid tribute to the mastery of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis and Sly Stone, creating over 100 new arrangements and original compositions.

The Fridays at Five session being transmitted this week was recorded during the 2018-19 season at SFJAZZ, when the group premiered new arrangements of the music of Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim. During the 1960s, Jobim, merging Brazilian popular song with jazz, formed a new, and hugely popular style of music – the bossa nova – which has been captivating music lovers ever since the launch of the Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto collaboration in 1963. Regarded by some as the George Gershwin of Brazil, Jobim also credits Claude Debussy as having had a strong influence on his harmonies, and the Brazilian samba for its effect on the rather exotic rhythms of his music. He has gone on to write a vast number of compositions which are now considered jazz and pop standards.

For the SFJAZZ Collective’s latest project, existing group members Dávid Sanchez, Etienne Charles, Warren Wolf and Edward Simon will be joined by new members – Chris Potter, Lizz Wright, Aneesa Strings and Kendrick A.D. Scott – in the recording of a new studio album of original material, and the Collective will also be undertaking a tour in the Fall of this year.

The SFJAZZ Collective plays the Music of Jobim on August 27th at 5.00 pm (PT) and August 28th at 10.00 am (PT) for SFJAZZ members. For log-in information, and how to become a member, please visit the SFJAZZ website. The August 27th transmission includes a real-time chat with members of the Collective, but this will not be repeated during the August 28th transmission. This encore transmission on August 28th will be streamed at 1.00 pm NYC, 6.00 pm in London, and 7.00 pm in Paris and Johannesburg.

The SFJAZZ Collective – photo courtesy SFJAZZ

Fridays at Five is a weekly membership-based online concert series that brings people closer to the music, while providing support for artists, through exclusive hour-long broadcasts of SFJAZZ Center archival performances every Friday at 5.00 pm (PT). Conceived to create a unique shared experience, each event features multi-camera HD video and state-of-the-art audio, as well as real-time chats with artists, jazz fans, and SFJAZZ Members.

Information sourced from:

SFJAZZ program notes

Artists’ websites

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Inaugural season of San Francisco Opera’s Music Director opens with Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

Ailyn Pérez & Michael Fabiano in San Francsico Opera’s production of ‘Tosca’

Eun Sun Kim opens her inaugural season as San Francisco Opera’s Music Director with Puccini’s Tosca – a work which has long been associated with significant moments in the history of the Company. Maestra Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus (Director Ian Robertson – in his final season opener before retiring at the end of December) and soloists, headed by Ailyn Pérez in the role of Floria Tosca, tenor Michael Fabiano as her lover Cavaradossi, and Alfred Walker as the sinister police chief Scarpia. The production is directed by Shawna Lucey.

Dale Travis as the Sacristan & members of the Chorus of San Francisco Opera

Accolades have been showered on Eun Sun Kim – the first woman to be appointed to the leading musical role of a top-flight American opera company. The New York Times declared her to be “a major star…with great sensitivity and flexibility”, and the Cincinnati Business Courier referred to her as “…. a brilliant rising star in the conducting world. A maestra to watch…”.

Eun Sun Kim – Music Director of San Francisco Opera © Nikolaj Lund

Her first appearance with San Francisco Opera took place in June 2019 when she led a production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance”. OperaChaser wrote that she “…. captures the darkness, the gossamer-like, the bombastic and mystery of the score with elan”, and Opera Warhorses that “Her shimmering, beautifully contoured performance of the Dvorak’s melody-immersed operatic masterpiece, elicited a brilliant response from the San Francisco Opera Orchestra”. Musical America presciently wrote that “The orchestra’s vibrant responsiveness made Kim’s debut here a spectacular one for a company currently in search of a music director”. Eun Sun Kim was appointed Music Director of San Francisco Opera in November of that year.

Scene from San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Tosca’ with Alfred Walker as Scarpia

This will be the second time that Maestra Kim will have conducted performances of Tosca – the first having been at the Macerata Festival in Italy 2014. This season she continues a series of debuts – at Wiener Staatsoper and the Metropolitan Opera with La bohème, and at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Tosca, before returning to Houston Grand Opera for a new production of Turandot. Symphonic engagements include concerts in Berlin, Detroit, Toronto, Portland, and with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Bedford in the UK.

Michael Fabiano as Cavaradossi & Ailyn Pérez in the title role of ‘Tosca’

Soprano Ailyn Pérez – with “…. her rich and seductive tone ….” (OperaWire) – returns to San Francisco in a role debut as Tosca, following two previous engagements as Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata in 2009 and 2014. Ms Pérez was last seen in these pages in one of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in Concert streams which took place in May.

Michael Fabiano as Cavaradossi

Michael Fabiano is Cavaradossi. The tenor – with what The Guardian describes as his “thrilling, vibrant tone” – sings this role for the first time in North America, following his role debut at Opéra National de Paris, and performances at Teatro Real in Madrid.

Ailyn Pérez as Floria Tosca & Alfred Walker as Scarpia in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

In another role debut in this performance of Tosca, bass-baritone Alfred Walker is Scarpia. His first engagement with San Francisco Opera was his portrayal of Orest in Strauss’ Elektra, making “a formidable company debut”, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Also included the cast are bass-baritone Dale Travis as the Sacristan, tenor Joel Sorensen as Spoletta and bass Soloman Howard as Angelotti.

Ailyn Pérez as Tosca & Michael Fabiano as Cavaradossi

Director Shawna Lucey made her debut in San Francisco Opera’s 2017 production of La Traviata, and originally directed this version of Tosca for the Company in 2018. Sets and costumes are by Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting by Michael Clark.

Ailyn Pérez in San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Tosca’

San Francisco Opera’s production of Tosca, with a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, is sung in Italian with English supertitles. It runs at the War Memorial Opera House between August 21st and September 5th. For further information and booking details, visit the San Francisco Opera website.

All photos © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera unless otherwise indicated

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

Artists’ websites

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San Francisco Opera closes ‘Opera is ON’ season with Donizetti’s ‘Roberto Devereux’

Sondra Radvanovsky in Donizetti’s ‘Roberto Devereux’ © Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera goes back to the Tudor period with Gaetano Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux – the final free stream of the Company’s Opera is ON series. In this production, soprano Sondra Radvanovsky sings the role of Elisabetta, Queen of England, tenor Russell Thomas takes the title role, and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is Sara, Duchess of Nottingham.

Roberto Devereux is the third in what’s known as Donizetti’s ‘Tudor Trilogy’ – the other two being Anna Bolena and Maria Stuarda – although the operas were apparently not designed as such. The libretto for Roberto Devereux is by Salvatore Cammarano, and is thought to have been based largely on Felice Romani’s Il Comte d’Essex – but he is also said to have drawn for his material on the work of two French authors, Pierre Corneille and Francois Ancelot. Whatever the truth, Donizetti and Cammarano’s interpretation of the story of the romantic association between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Essex, might not be historically accurate, but it certainly makes a dramatic plot for an opera.

From SF Opera’s original staging of ‘Roberto Devereux’

In Donizetti’s opera, Elisabetta is in love with Roberto Devereux, the Earl of Essex, whom she has sent to Ireland to lead a military expedition. Against her orders, he has signed a peace treaty with the Irish rebels, and her advisors, fueled by jealousy of his favored position at Court, use this opportunity to issue a charge of treason against him. Elisabetta faces the terrible choice of acknowledging where her loyalty lies – with her country or the man she loves. She then discovers that he has betrayed her – as well as his friend and ally, the Duke of Nottingham – by conducting an illicit affair with Nottingham’s wife, Sara. When Lord Cecil informs Elisabetta that Parliament has reached a decision and that Devereux faces the death penalty, she knows she has to make a difficult decision.

The 1837 premiere of Roberto Devereux, at the Teatro San Carlo, was only moderately successful, and the work lay largely unperformed from about 1850 until the renewed interest in music of the bel canto in the latter part of the 20th century.

During the 2015-16 season Sondra Radvanovsky became the first singer in the history of the Metropolitan Opera to sing the soprano leads of Donizetti’s ‘three queens’ in his Tudor dramas – Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Roberto Devereux. She made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2009 as Leonora in Il Trovatore, and returned in 2014 in the title role in Bellini’s Norma – her debut performance in the role.

Russell Thomas – known for his vivid character portrayals – made his San Francisco Opera debut as Pollione in Norma in 2014, and returned to the Company in a role debut of Roberto Devereux in this 2018 production.

Multi-award-winning Jamie Barton debuted at San Francisco Opera in 2014 as Adalgisa in Norma, and recently appeared, with banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, in the premiere of San Francisco Opera’s new short-form song and storytelling video portrait series, In Song. The forthcoming season will see her perform in The Homecoming, a concert led by San Francisco Opera’s new Music Director Eun Sun Kim, and simulcast live to audiences at Oracle Park.

The role of the Duke of Nottingham is sung by Romanian-American baritone and Adler Fellow Andrew Manea, New Zealand tenor Amitai Pati appears as Lord Cecil, and base-baritone Christian Pursell sings the role of Walter Raleigh.

Scene from San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Roberto Devereux’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This Canadian Opera Company production – new to San Francisco Opera in 2018 when it was recorded – is directed by Stephen Lawless whose highly successful production of Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice for Glyndebourne Touring Opera was recorded by the BBC for television and video release. He also produced the first ever live telecast of an opera from the Soviet Union to the UK, with his debut production of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov for the Kirov Opera in Leningrad.

Italian conductor Riccardo Frizza leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director Ian Robertson, having made his debut with the company when he led performances of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia in 2011, returning in 2012 with Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, and again in 2014 with Puccini’s Tosca. Maestro Frizza is artistic director of the 2021 Donizetti Opera Festival in November, in which he will conduct L’elisir d’amore with Javier Camarena in the lead role.

Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux – sung in Italian with English supertitles – can be viewed online from 10.00 am (PT) on Saturday, August 14th, until 11.59 pm (PT) the following day. Further information and registration details can be found on the San Francisco Opera website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes


Artists’ websites

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Starry Nights: San Francisco Ballet celebrates Return to the Stage

San Francisco Ballet in Balanchine’s ‘Serenade’ // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet, in partnership with Stanford Live, celebrates the joy of live performances in Starry Nights: SF Ballet’s Return to the Stage in Stanford this week. This debut performance at the Frost Amphitheater features two works by George Balanchine Serenade and TarantellaDanielle Rowe’s For Pixie and Helgi Tomasson’s The Fifth Season. The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra will be led by Music Director Martin West.

Frances Chung in Balanchine’s ‘Serenade’ // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Serenade was the first original work that Balanchine choreographed after his arrival in the United States in 1933, and one that wasn’t initially intended for performance. It was originally created as a lesson in stage technique for the students of the School of American Ballet. One of those gorgeous classical works in the Russian tradition which needs no set or synopsis to enhance it, Serenade is performed by dancers simply costumed in pale blue romantic tutus – designed by Barbara Karinska – and set to Tchaikovsky’s exquisite Serenade for Strings – a composer, according to the Balanchine Trust, for whom the choreographer had a special affinity. Tchaikovsky composed the work in four movements – Sonatina, Waltz, Elegy and Russian Dance – however Balanchine reversed the order of the last two movements, ending his ballet on a somewhat melancholy note.

Sasha De Sola and Esteban Hernandez in Balanchine’s ‘Tarantella’ // Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Balanchine’s Tarantella is a lively pas de deux inspired by Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s delightful Grande Tarantelle for Piano and Orchestra, reconstructed and orchestrated by American composer and arranger Hershy Kay. A showcase for the virtuosity of the dancers, this work was described by the choreographer as “a dazzling display piece, full of speed and high spirits”. It has a definite air of the Neapolitan about it, from the costuming (again after Karinska) to the use of tambourines, despite the fact that Gottschalk – with his French forenames – actually came from New Orleans. Gottschalk was the first American pianist to achieve international recognition, and the first American composer to incorporate Latin American and Creole folk themes and rhythms in his music.

Sasha De Sola in Balanchine’s ‘Tarantella’ //Choreography by George Balanchine © The Balanchine Trust; Photo © Erik Tomasson

Danielle Rowe’s For Pixie is an intimate and emotional pas de deux, shadowy in its presentation, and performed to the deep, mellow voice of Nina Simone. A highly personal work, For Pixie was the first piece ever choreographed by Rowe, and took its inspiration from the complex and passionate relationship of her grandparents.

Dores André and Joseph Walsh in Rowe’s ‘For Pixie’ // © Erik Tomasson

Soirées Musicales is a pas de deux by Helgi Tomasson, set to some of the music which Benjamin Britten orchestrated from songs by Rossini. Soirées Musicales was the first suite of ballet music arranged by Britten, followed some years later by a second suite, Matinées Musicales. The two suites were combined in 1941 into one ballet suite for a South American tour by the American Ballet Company. This performance by San Francisco Ballet uses the March, Canzonetta, Bolero and Tarantella from Soirées Musicales, with the Waltz from Matinées Musicales as the middle variation.

Angelo Greco in Tomasson’s ‘Soirees Musicales’ // © Erik Tomasson

Helgi Tomasson’s The Fifth Season is danced to the music of contemporary Welsh musician and composer Karl Jenkins – his five-part String Quartet No 2, and the largo from his immensely popular piece Palladio. Taking its title from the first movement of the String Quartet, the ballet moves through different styles of music, including a mesmerizing almost minimalist theme, a delightful tango, a Baroque-style air and an elegant waltz, with the adagio pas de deux performed to the movement from Palladio.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s ‘The Fifth Season’ // © Erik Tomasson

Starry Nights: SF Ballet’s Return to the Stage will be presented at the Frost Amphitheater, Stanford, on August 13th and 14th. Tickets can be reserved on the Stanford Live website, and further information on the program is available on the San Francisco Ballet website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Ballet program notes

Serenade – The George Balanchine Trust

Louis Gottschalk

Tarantella – The George Balanchine Trust

For Pixie

Soirées Musicales

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San Francisco Opera streams Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’

Scene from San Francisco Opera’s production of ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Prior to the opening of San Francisco Opera’s 2021-22 season on August 21st, the Company has added two more productions to its Opera is ON season of free opera streams – Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux.

The first of these is a production by Sir David McVicar – regarded as one of the world’s foremost opera directors – of Wagner’s comedy opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, recorded at the War Memorial Opera House in 2015. It stars baritone James Rutherford as Hans Sachs, tenor Brandon Jovanovich as Walther von Stolzing and soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Eva.

The only comedy amongst Wagner’s mature operas, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is also the only one which was based on an original story – Wagner wrote the libretto himself – and the only one which he set in an actual historical time and place (as opposed to a mythical or legendary setting). The premiere – conducted by Hans von Bülow – took place on June 21, 1868, at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich, now the home of the Bavarian State Opera.

The opera revolves around a guild of Master Singers – an actual association of amateur poets and musicians in Nuremberg who were often master craftsmen as well – and whose music-making was dictated by a complicated system of rules for composing and performing their songs. One of the main characters in the opera, Hans Sachs, is based on a person of the same name, a cobbler who lived between 1494 and 1576, and was the most famous of the historical Mastersingers.

Wagner’s opera was originally set in 16th century Nuremberg, but David McVicar has brought his production forward to the early 19th century. It tells of a young knight, Walther, who is smitten with Eva, the daughter of a goldsmith and Meistersinger who has agreed to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the winner of the next Meistersingers’ contest. Walther’s main rival is another singer, Beckmesser, who also hopes to win Eva’s hand, but through the efforts of Eva’s maid, Magdalena, Hans Sachs agrees to help Walther, despite the fact that he, too, is in love with Eva, although he accepts that he’s too old for her. The intricacies of the plot are many and varied, but eventually they unravel, leading to the happy ending – although tinged with sadness – that (almost) everyone wants.

James Rutherford has won wide acclaim for his interpretation of German romantic opera, and of leading Wagnerian roles in particular. He has performed on some of the world’s greatest opera stages, and made his debut with San Francisco Opera as Wolfram von Eschenbach in Tannhäuser in 2007. He has sung the role of Hans Sachs for the Bayreuth Festival, Vienna State Opera, Hamburg Opera, Cologne Opera, Budapest Wagner Festival, and in David McVicar’s production for Glyndebourne.

Brandon Jovanovich returns to San Francisco Opera for this performance of Die Meistersinger, making his role debut as Walther von Stolzing. Also known for his passionate stage portrayals of leading roles in French, Italian and Slavic, as well as German opera, Mr Jovanovich has previously appeared for San Francisco in Wagner’s Ring cycle in 2011, in Lohengrin in 2014, and in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah in 2014.

Brandon Janovich & Rachel Willis-Sørensen in Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersing von Nürnberg
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This performance marks a double-debut for American soprano Rachel Willis-Sørensen – her first performance with San Francisco Opera, and her first appearance as Eva. Ms Willis-Sørensen is known for the diversity of her repertoire which ranges from Mozart to Wagner, and she has appeared in leading opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Vienna State Opera.

Also in the cast are bass Ain Anger as Eva’s father, Veit Pogner, baritone Martin Gantner is Walther’s rival, Sixtus Beckmesser, and tenor Alek Shrader is Hans Sach’s apprentice, David. Eva’s nurse, Magdalene, is performed by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and bass-baritone Philip Horst is fellow mastersinger Fritz Kothner.

Marie Lambert and Ian Rutherford co-revive McVicar’s staging in this 2015 San Francisco Opera co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director Ian Robertson) are led by Sir Mark Elder in his first appearance with the Company. Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, Sir Mark is a principal artist of the British period instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Opera Rara.

San Franciso Opera’s production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, sung in German with English supertitles, can be seen from 10.00 am (PT) on Saturday, August 7th, through 11.59 pm (PT) on August 8th

In another piece of news, this fall, San Francisco Opera will present a new live streaming option for select performances of Music Director Eun Sun Kim’s inaugural season. For the first time in Company history, livestreams of San Francisco Opera’s new productions of Beethoven’s Fidelio on October 14, 17 and 20 and Così fan tutte on November 21, 23 and 27 will enable audiences from anywhere in the world to view these live performances. Virtual tickets will be available for $25. For more information, visit

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

Artists’ websites

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Met Opera’s ‘Live in HD’ Summer Encores presents Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

Vittorio Grigolo & Sonya Yoncheva in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of ‘Tosca’

The Metropolitan Opera continues its encore series of popular Live in HD transmissions from past seasons. The latest of these, Puccini’s historical melodrama Tosca, will be screened in cinemas in the United States (from August 4th) and the United Kingdom (from August 11th).

Scene from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of ‘Tosca’

Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca – written in 1899 – was based on Victorien Sardou’s 1887 play, La Tosca, which featured the actress Sarah Bernhard in the title role.  Set to a libretto by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa, this dramatic tale of love, lust, political intrigue and corruption, takes place in 1800, when the control of Rome by the Kingdom of Naples was threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of Italy. It recounts the story of artist Mario Cavaradossi and the woman he loves, singer Floria Tosca, as they try to evade the corruption which was rife in the city of Rome at that time.

(Trailer for original production of Tosca in 2018):

Tosca premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on January 14th, 1900, and although it features some of the composer’s most beautiful and best known arias, it was apparently not particularly well received by the critics. The audiences, however, loved it, and still do.

This production by Sir David McVicar – new in 2018 when it was filmed – stars Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva as the tempestuous Tosca. Ms Yoncheva is currently appearing in a series of concerts and recitals in six different cities across Europe, following which she will appear in the title role of La Traviata at Arena di Verona, in concert at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, and at a Gala Concert at St Alexander Nevsky Square in Sofia, Bulgaria.

(Trailer for original cinema screening of Tosca in 2018):

Charismatic tenor Vittorio Grigolo is Tosca’s lover, the idealistic painter Mario Cavaradossi, whom she fights to save from the wiles of the sinister Baron Scarpia. Earlier this year, Vittorio Grigolo appeared with Ms Yoncheva at Arena di Verona in an evening of song, in which they performed some of the most beautiful love arias and duets written for opera, including Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and Tosca.

Sonya Yoncheva & Željko Lučić in Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

Baritone Željko Lučić is Scarpia, the corrupt chief of police, who uses brutality to capture criminals and entrap his sexual conquests. Regarded as one of today’s foremost Verdi baritones, Mr Lučić has performed for major opera companies around the world, such as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, l’Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala and the Wiener Staatsoper.

Leading the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus in one of Puccini’s most glorious scores is Emmanuel Villaume who will be returning to the Met in December to lead performances of Cinderella, the latest in the series of abridged opera adaptations for family audiences presented by the Met.

Scene from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’

Tosca will be screened at select cinemas across the United States from August 4th (search for your nearest cinema via this link) and in the United Kingdom as of August 11th (search for your nearest cinema via this link).

All photographs © Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Information sourced from:

Metropolitan Opera program notes

Royal Opera House program notes

Artists’ websites

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