Tan Dun leads Concertgebouw Orchestra in world premiere of ‘Requiem for Nature’

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at de Gashouder in 2022 – ©  Marcel Molle

This year’s Holland Festival closes with the world premiere of Tan Dun’s Requiem for Nature at the Westergas-Gashouder in Amsterdam, in which the composer leads the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Lauren Symfonisch and soloists from several parts of East-Asia.

The Holland Festival is the oldest and largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands. Taking place in Amsterdam every June, the Festival has, since 1947, been providing Dutch and international theatregoers with some of the most widely acclaimed theatrical, musical, operatic and modern dance productions, and in recent years the roster has been expanded to include multimedia, visual arts, film and architecture.

Tan Dun’s six-movement Requiem for Nature is a work for orchestra, chorus and soloists, which was developed in close collaboration with the Concertgebouw Orchestra’s creative partner Pierre Audi – with whom Tan Dun has worked on several occasions. Inspired by ancient murals in the Mogul Caves in Dunhuang, China, this ode to Earth mourns the demise of nature caused by human action, and asks how can we restore the relationship between nature and humankind.

The Requiem for Nature combines arrangements of sections from Tan Dun’s 2018 work Buddha Passion with newly composed movements. Although created in the Western tradition, it is based on Buddhist rather than Christian texts, and will be sung in English, Mongolian, Tibetan, Cantonese and Sanskrit, with English surtitles. The Los Angeles Times writes: “Theatrical [and] ritualistic, Tan Dun’s music sculpts sound and transforms everything into a riveting experience that is hard to define but very easy to appreciate”.

Tan Dun – courtesy Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

The music of UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador Tan Dun covers the classical, multimedia, Eastern and Western genres, for which he has been recognised with a Grammy, an Oscar, a Grawemeyer, a Shostakovich award, the Bach Prize and Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement. His music has been played the world over by leading orchestras and opera houses, at international festivals, on radio and television, and Tan Dun has led prestigious ensembles such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra.

In these final concerts of The Holland Festival, Tan Dun leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and soloists soprano Candice Chung from Hong Kong, Tibetan indigenous soprano Jiangfan Yong, Chinese pipa player Han Yan, Mongolian khoomai bass (throat singer) and morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) player Hasibagen, together with the choir of the Laurens Symfonisch, in performances of his Requiem for Nature at the Westergas-Gashouder in Amsterdam on June 30th and July 1st. For further information and tickets, visit the website of the Concertgebouw Orchestra or the Holland Festival website.

Information sourced from:

Concertgebouworkest program notes

Holland Festival

Tan Dun

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San Francisco Playhouse revives award-winning musical ‘A Chorus Line’

The San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

A revival of the fabulous musical, A Chorus Line, has opened at the San Francisco Playhouse. Winner of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, nine Tony Awards, four Drama Desk awards, three 1976 Obie awards and the 1984 Special Gold Tony Award for Broadway’s longest-running musical, A Chorus Line was described as “Frankly brilliant!” by the Telegraph, and by Time Out as “Enormously powerful!”.

The music for A Chorus Line was written by three times Oscar winner Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the scores for more than 40 films. These included The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting, and during his highly successful career he was also principal pops conductor with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.

A scene from the San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

A Chorus Line was lyricist Edward Kleban’s first Broadway musical. He won the 1975 Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier awards, and was posthumously nominated for both a Tony and Drama Desk award for his music and lyrics for the musical A Class Act, produced on Broadway in 2001. He is also known for the creation of the Kleban Foundation, which awards grants to aspiring theatre lyricists.
The book on which A Chorus Line is based was co-written by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, both of whom shared the Pulitzer Prize with Marvin Hamlish and Edward Kleban.

A scene from the San Francisco Playhouse production of ‘A Chorus Line’

This funny, yet heartbreaking, musical focuses on one day in the lives of the seventeen dancers, each of whom hopes to win one of the eight places in the chorus line of a Broadway musical. The director and choreographer asks each of them to talk about themselves, explaining that he wants to get to know a bit more about them. Reluctant to start with, the dancers nevertheless begin to share their life experiences, and the audience – through the revelation of these stories – begins to see the individual personalities of what appeared to be merely a group of performers.

Interestingly, these stories are based on the true experiences of actual Broadway dancers, as told to Michael Bennett – who conceived, directed and choreographed the original production of A Chorus Line. Bennett was an American musical theatre director, writer, choreographer and dancer who won seven Tony Awards for his choreography and direction of Broadway shows and was nominated for an additional eleven. Among the shows which Bennett choreographed are Promises, Promises, Follies and Company.

This San Francisco Playhouse production of A Chorus Line is directed by Bill English, with musical direction by Dave Dobrusky and choreography by Nicole Helfer. It runs at the Playhouse until September 9th, 2023. For more information and for tickets please visit the San Francisco Playhouse website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Playhouse program notes


All photographs by Jessica Palipoli

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San Francisco Opera stages Local Premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank’s ‘El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego’

Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo, Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera and Yaritza Véliz as Catrina in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s ‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The San Francisco premiere of Gabriela Lena Frank’s El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego, is to be staged by San Francisco Opera at the War Memorial Opera House as of this week. With a libretto by Nilo Cruz, this production by Mexican Director Lorena Maza stars mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack and baritone Alfredo Daza as 20th Century artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

The Company’s first Spanish-language opera is a co-commission between San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Fort Worth Opera, DePauw University, School of Music and with support from the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (director John Keene) will be led by Detroit Opera’s Music Director, Roberto Kalb, making his San Francisco Opera debut.

The action of El último sueño de Frida y Diego takes place on El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) in the year 1957 – three years after Frida Kahlo’s death. Despite their stormy relationship, the muralist Diego Rivera, who is ailing and lonely, has one last wish – to see Frida once more, to ask for her forgiveness. She does indeed return to earth, even though she is loath to go back to a world where she experienced such pain. The pair enjoy one last opportunity to reunite and reconcile. El último sueño de Frida y Diego was premiered by San Diego Opera in October 2022.

Daniela Mack (center) as Frida Kalho in an Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s
‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Although this opera is Gabriela Lena Frank’s first, the music of this Grammy Award-winning composer is regularly featured on the programs of leading orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. Composer in Residence of the Philadelphia Orchestra, she has written new works for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw and conductors Marin Alsop and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and is founder of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music for emerging music-makers in Northern California.
Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz is well known for his stage works – which include his 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Anna in the Tropics, for which he also received a Tony nomination. A frequent collaborator with composers such as Gabriela Lena Frank and Jimmy Lopez, his works are performed across the US and internationally.

Daniela Mack as Frida Kalho with members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus in
Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s ‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The role of Frida Kahlo is taken by Argentine mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack – described by the Telegraph as “a purringly elegant BMW of a singer”. A former Merola Opera Program participant and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Mack made her Company debut as Lucienne in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt in 2008, followed by Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Rosmira in Handel’s Partenope, Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in three different seasons, and the title role in Rossini’s La Cenerentola.

Daniela Mack (left) as Frida Kalho with members of the San Francisco Opera Chorus in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s ‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

In recent seasons, Ms Mack has made several important debuts including the Kitchen Boy in Dvořák’s Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Rosmira in Partenope at Teatro Real, as Romeo in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi at Teatro de la Maestranza – also a role debut – and with the BBC Philharmonic as Béatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict. She also made her Carnegie Hall debut in a performance of Handel’s Serse with The English Concert. Daniela Mack will feature in San Francisco Opera’s Webby Award-winning video portrait series, In Song­, filmed on location in Buenos Aires, and released this summer.

Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s
‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Mexican baritone Alfredo Daza created the role of Diego Rivera in the world premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego last October, following which The San Diego Union Tribune wrote of his “soulful restraint” in performing Frank’s music, describing his presentation as “deep and mournful, reflecting the artist’s regrets over his cruelty”. Having performed it with Los Angeles Opera as well, he returns in this role to San Francisco Opera, where he began his career as an Adler Fellow, having participated in the Merola Opera Program in 1997.

Other highlights of his appearances in San Francisco include those of Liberto in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, various roles in Sergei Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery, Prince Yamadori in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Schaunard in his La bohème, and as Silvano in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Recent and upcoming appearances include the roles of Enrico in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at Barcelona’s Gran Theatre del Liceu, Zurga in Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Dallas Opera and in the title role in Giordano’s Fedora in Las Palmas. Mr Daza is a frequent performer at the Berlin State Opera, having appeared in leading roles in works by Rossini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Gounod, Massenet and Puccini.

Yaritza Véliz as Catrina and Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo in Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s ‘El último sueño de Frida y Diego’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The cast also includes Chilean soprano Yaritza Véliz making her house debut as Catrina, the Keeper of the Dead, American countertenor Jake Ingbar as the young actor Leonardo, Mikayla Sager, Nikola Printz, Gabrielle Beteag, Moisés Salazar and Ricardo Lugo, wityh choreography by Colm Seery.
The creative team comprises set designer Jorge Ballina, costume designer Eloise Kazan and lighting designer Victor Zapatero.

El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego is sung in Spanish, with English and Spanish supertitles and will run for five performances at the War Memorial Opera House between June 13 and 30. Further information and tickets are available on the San Francisco Opera website.
The performance on Thursday, June 22, will be streamed live at 7.30 pm (PT), and will be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Friday, June 23, at 10.00 am (PT).  For more information, visit sfopera.com/digital/Livestream.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego

Gabriela Lena Frank

Nilo Cruz

Daniela Mack

Alfredo Daza

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Dutch National Opera brings Dvořák’s ‘Rusalka’ into the 20th century

Johanni van Oostrum stars in the title role of Dutch National Opera’s ‘Rusalka’

Recognized as Antonin Dvořák’s most successful creation for stage, the opera Rusalka has had a modern makeover in Philipp Stölzl and Philipp M Krenn’s adaptation for Dutch National Opera. This version stars South African soprano Johanni van Oostrum in the title role, with Czech tenor Pavel Černoch as the Prince, American mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis as the witch Ježibaba and Annette Dasch as the foreign princess. German conductor Joana Mallwitz leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

In early 1900, Antonin Dvořák was looking for a libretto for a theatrical new work – preferably something based on Czech history. He was given a text written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil which bore the title Rusalka, and was based on the story of Ondine (also known as Undine) – a traditional European mythological figure who, according to folklore, gave her love to a human prince at the risk of losing her life should he be unfaithful to her. Kvapil deliberately placed his libretto in the context of a Czech scenario, and the setting of Dvořák’s opera was almost certainly dictated by the composer’s well-known love of nature. Dvořák’s Rusalka premiered at the National Theater in Prague in 1901, and although his music was celebrated internationally during his lifetime, Rusalka is the only one of his operas to gain a following outside Bohemia.

Philipp Stölzl and Philipp M Krenn’s adaptation of Rusalka has a more modern setting, depicting a young woman on the outskirts of society. At the cinema, she falls in love with a Hollywood star, and fantasises about living in the golden heyday of Hollywood. She goes to great lengths to enter this world – but will reality live up to the dream? Both directors have a cinematic background – Stölzl is a film director and set designer, as well as working in opera and the theatre, and Krenn was an actor before moving into directing.

Johanni van Oostrum and Pavel Černoch in Dutch National Opera’s ‘Rusalka’

Following a performance as the Contessa in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro for Minnesota Opera, Johanni van Oostrum was said by Postbullitin to have been “stunning” …. and “…. glorious, with a warmth and purity of tone that floats to all corners of the hall”. A signature role of hers is that of The Marschallin in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier which she has sung at venues such as Dutch National Opera, the Vienna State Opera, at the Royal Swedish Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and Komische Oper Berlin. Ms van Oostrum recently sang the role of Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Bavarian State Opera, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Tokyo Spring Festival 2022 and the Hessische Staatstheater Wiesbaden, and other highlights of her season are performances as Chrysothemis in Strauss’s Elektra in Hamburg, and Eva in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Tokyo Spring Festival 2023. As Agathe in Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz, she was “sensational” in the Dutch National Opera production, and “… an unexpected revelation” at the Barbican in London, according to The Artsdesk.

Johanni van Oostrum and Pavel Černoch in ‘Rusalka’

Pavel Černoch frequently appears at many of Europe’s leading opera houses, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, Opernhaus Zurich, Théatre La Monnaie in Brussels, Opéra National in Paris, Teatro Real Madrid, Dutch National Opera Amsterdam, the Bregenz Festival and the Glyndebourne Festival. He has also appeared as a concert soloist with major orchestras and festivals in the United Kingdom and Europe. Operatic roles which Mr Černoch has taken include those of Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata, the title role in Don Carlos, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème, Pinkerton in his Madama Butterfly, Cavaradossi in Tosca, the title roles in both Gounod’s and Berlioz’s Faust, Lenski in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Albert Gregor in Janáček’s The Makropulos Case. Other appearances include those at the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Summer Festival, Royal Opera House London, Bavarian State Opera Munich and Canadian Opera Toronto.

Johanni van Oostrum and Annette Dasch in Dutch National Opera’s ‘Rusalka’

Annette Dasch returns to Dutch National Opera where she was seen in the lead role in Janáček’s Jenůfa, also appearing as Chawa in Rudi Stephan’s Die ersten Menschen and as Ghita in Alexander von Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg.

Johanni van Oostrum and Raehann Bryce-Davis in Dutch National Opera’s ‘Rusalka’

Raehann Bryce-Davis made notable house debuts during the 2021-2022 season, at the Metropolitan Opera in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, at La Monnaie in Brussels as La Zia Principessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, and as Azucena in Verdi’s Il trovatore at the Glimmerglass Festival. She returned to both Los Angeles Opera and the Staatstheater Nürnberg as Azucena, and to Opera Ballet Vlaanderen as Der Komponist in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. On the concert stage, she was hailed by the New York Times as a “striking mezzo … singing with the BBC Proms as a soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9” with the Chineke! Orchestra.

Scene from Dutch National Opera’s ‘Rusalka’

Joana Mallwitz makes her Amsterdam debut as she leads the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in these performances of Rusalka. General Music Director of the Nuremberg State Theatre since 2018, she was named Conductor of the Year by critics of Opernwelt magazine in 2019, and in 2020 she was the first female conductor to be engaged by the Salzburg Festival to lead Mozart’s Così fan tutte, following which she received rave reviews. Celebrated by critics as an “exceptionally talented conductor”, she has been described by Süddeutsche Zeitung as a “stage designer in sound” in the way she shapes and animates the musical action.

Dvořák’s Rusalka runs at the Dutch National Opera from 2nd to 25th June. Further information and tickets are available from the Dutch National Opera website.

All photographs © Clärchen and Matthias Baus

Information sourced from:

Dutch National Opera programme notes

Rusalka http://www.antonin-dvorak.cz/en/rusalka

Ancient Origins https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/rusalka-mythical-slavic-mermaid-006738

PBS http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/gp-met-rusalka-opera/6877/

Artists’ websites

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New production of Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ opens San Francisco Opera’s Summer Season

Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera opens its 2023 Summer Season with one of the world’s best loved operas, Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, in a co-production with The Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation, Semperoper Dresden and the Royal Danish Opera.

This new staging by Japanese Director Amon Miyamoto stars Korean soprano Karah Son in her Company debut as Cio-Cio-San – the young Japanese girl who falls in love with an American naval officer, with devastating consequences. Tenor Michael Fabiano is Lt Pinkerton, the US Naval officer, mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim is Suzuki, Cio-Cio-San’s servant and confidant, and baritone Lucas Meachem is Sharpless the US Consul. Leading the production is San Francisco Opera’s Music Director Eun Sun Kim.

A scene from Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

This production of Madame Butterfly, staged with associate director Miroku Shimada, presents the story from the perspective of Cio-Cio-San’s child with Pinkerton. Known as Dolore – or Trouble – he is now a grown man, having been raised as a biracial person in 1920s America, experiencing discrimination, and finding out what events led to his being there. The role of Trouble is taken John Charles Quimpo, born and raised in the Philippines, but now a Bay Area-based award-winning performer.

John Charles Quimbo as Adult Trouble and Michael Fabiano as Pinkerton in Puccini’s
‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The original version of Giacomo Puccini’s tragic opera, Madame Butterfly, has a somewhat complicated, but fascinating, history. The Italian libretto, by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa, was partly based on the short story, Madame Butterfly, written by John Luther Long in 1898. Long’s story evolved partly from some stories told to him by his sister, and partly from a French novel, Madame Chrysanthème, written by Pierre Loti in 1887. This novel was then dramatized as a one-act play – Madame Butterfly: A Tragedy of Japan – by American theatrical producer and playwright David Belasco in 1900, the year in which Puccini (1858-1924) attended a performance in London.

A scene from Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Madama Butterfly (as it’s known in Italian) premiered at La Scala in Milan on 17th February 1904, where it was most unenthusiastically received. Having undergone substantial revisions, the opera was performed in Brescia in May of the same year, on that occasion to great acclaim. Puccini, however, made further revisions to his work – there were five in total – the last version of which was performed in 1907. This became known as the ‘standard version’ and is the one most frequently performed today. It was premiered by Monte-Carlo Opera on 23rd March 1912.

Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly’
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Karah Son has performed on stages across Europe, North America, Australia and in Korea. Following a recent appearance as Cio-Cio San in the Sydney Opera House, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote: “Her voice spans innocent playfulness, intimate intensity and unflinchingly thrilling moments, singing Un bel dì, vedremo with tonal purity and grace of line and without undue portent”. Ms Son recently appeared in Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini at the Monte-Carlo Opera, in Madama Butterfly in Korea, Tampere, Leipzig, Warsaw, Berlin, Goteborg and Turin, and in Aida in Korea.  Future engagements include performances in Madama Butterfly in Leipzig, with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in Warsaw, Stuttgart and Helsinki.

Michael Fabiano as Pinkerton and Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Michael Fabiano makes a welcome return to San Francisco Opera as Lieutenant B F Pinkerton. The “intensively expressive” (New York Times) tenor has performed many leading roles with the Company, including Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, Cavaradossi in his Tosca and the title role in Verdi’s Don Carlo. Following a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, the Independent wrote that “Michael Fabiano’s heartrending Lensky is out of this world”, his portrayal of Rodolfo in La bohème at Canadian Opera Company was described by La Scena Musicale as “simply sensational”, and Musical Toronto referred to him as “Fabulous …… A tenor that operatic dreams are made of”. Mr Fabiano will also sing at San Francisco Opera’s 100th Anniversary Concert on 16th June. San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Moisés Salazar performs the role of Pinkerton in the July 1 performance.

Viva Young Maguire as Trouble, Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San, and Hyona Kim as Suzuki in Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Hyona Kim, who sings Suzuki in this production, has been described by the New York Times as a “vibrant mezzo soprano”. In 2018 she joined Dortmund Opera in Germany as a member of the ensemble, and made her much acclaimed house and role debut singing Amneris in Verdi’s Aïda. Other roles that she performed at the Dortmund Opera are Suzuki in Madama Butterfly and Tzippie in Oliver Knussen’s Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen (Where the wild things are). Future engagements include the title role in the German premiere production of Ernest Guiraud, Paul Dukas and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Frédégonde, the role of Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin and Fidès in Meyerbeer’s Le prophète.

Lucas Meachem as Sharpless in Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Grammy-winning Lucas Meachem is, Sharpless. Opera News writes that “His baritone is an instrument of striking finish, smooth and solid throughout its range. He is a masterful musician”, while Opera Pulse refers to him as the “rock star of opera”. During the current 2022/23 season he has sung the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Ravinia Festival, has appeared as Escamillo in Carmen with Canadian Opera Company, as Marcello in La bohème with Opéra national de Paris, and Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Los Angeles Opera.

Kidon Choi as Prince Yamadori, Julius Ahn as Goro, and Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly’ Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Tenor Julius Ahn is the marriage broker Goro, baritone Kidon Choi makes his Company debut as the wealthy Prince Yamadori and actor Evan Miles O’Hare is the elderly Pinkerton. The cast also includes current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Jongwon Han as the Bonze and Mikayla Sager as Kate Pinkerton, along with Andrew Pardini, Jere Torkelsen, Kevin Gino, Crystal Kim, Silvie Jensen and Whitney Steele.

This new staging of Madame Butterfly features the work of set designer Boris Kudlička, lighting designer Fabio Antoci and projection designer Bartek Macias. The costumes are designed by the late fashion icon Kenzō Takada, founder of the global brand and fashion house KENZO, and developed by associate costume designer Sonoko Takeda.

Eun Sun Kim leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus (Chorus Director John Keene) and the San Francisco Opera Dance Corps in eight performances of Madame Butterfly until July 1st at the War Memorial Opera House. Further details and booking guidance can be found on the San Francisco Opera website. The production is sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Audiences around the world will be delighted to hear that the performance on Friday, June 9, will be streamed live at 7.30 pm PT, and will be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Saturday, June 10 at 10.00 am PT.  For more information, visit sfopera.com/digital/livestream.

Information sourced from:
San Francisco Opera program notes
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Karah Son
Michael Fabiano
Hyona Kim
Lucas Meacham

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