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.
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…”.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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