San Francisco Opera streams ‘Salome’, ‘Manon’ and ‘Susannah’

Richard Strauss’ ‘Salome’ has Nadja Michael in the title role
© Terrence McCarthy/San Francisco Opera

Continuing the Opera is ON series of online presentations, San Francisco Opera has three acclaimed works scheduled for streaming, free of charge, over the next few weeks – Richard Strauss’ Salome on June 20, Jules Massenet’s Manon on June 27 and Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah on July 4. All were filmed live in high-definition at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.

Strauss’ 1905 one-act opera, Salome, is based on the Biblical events surrounding the execution of John the Baptist. Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s 1891 tragedy Salomé – the original version of which was in French – it has a libretto by Hedwig Lachmann who translated play into German.

So shocking was the opera deemed to be that, following its premiere in Dresden on December 9th, 1905, it was originally banned in London – and not performed at Covent Garden until 1910 – also in Berlin and Vienna, and withdrawn after its first performance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Today, however, it has become part of the operatic repertoire and is frequently performed.

This 2009 San Francisco Opera production is a co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opéra de Montréal. The title role is sung by German soprano Nadja Michael, Jokanaan (John the Baptist) by American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, English tenor Kim Begley is Herod, Russian mezzo-soprano Irina Mishura is Herodias, and American tenor Garrett Sorenson is Narraboth. Direction and choreography is by Séan Curran, production designs by Bruno Schwengl, and lighting by Christoper Maravich. Directed for the screen is by Frank Zamacona.

Former San Francisco Opera Music Director, Nicola Luisotti, leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (director Ian Robertson) in this production of Salome, which is performed in German with English subtitles.

Salome can be viewed online at 10.00 am PT on June 20 on and will be available until 11.59 pm PT on the following day.

Michael Fabiano and Ellie Dehn in Massenet’s ‘Manon’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The production of Jules Massenet’s Manon – to be streamed on June 27 – is SF Opera’s most recent staging of the work. This five-act opéra comique, which premiered in Paris in January 1884, has a French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille. It’s based on what is regarded as one of the greatest works in French literature – the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, by the Benedictine Abbé Prévost d’Exiles, about a wilful girl who is torn between true love and a desire for wealth and luxury. Massenet and his librettists took a fair amount of poetic license with their adaptation of the story, but this Manon is neither wilful nor conniving. She is portrayed instead as frivolous and impetuous, and possibly rather naive.

This co-production with Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Israeli Opera features the role debuts of soprano Ellie Dehn as Manon and tenor Michael Fabiano as Chevalier des Grieux. The cast also includes baritone David Pershall as Manon’s cousin Lescaut, bass James Creswell as Comte des Grieux, baritone Timothy Mix as the wealthy De Brétigny and tenor Robert Brubaker as Guillot de Morfontaine. Stage direction and costume designs are by Vincent Boussard, the set designer is Vincent Lemaire and lighting is by Gary Marder.

French conductor Patrick Fournillier leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (prepared by Chorus Director Ian Robertson) in this production of Manon which is performed in French with English subtitles.

Manon will be available to view on, at 10.00 am PT on Saturday, June 27, and until 11.59 pm PT the following day.  

Patricia Racette in the title role of Floyd’s ‘Susannah’
© Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Carlisle Floyd’s 1955 opera Susannah is one of the most frequently performed 20th-century works in the American operatic repertoire. With a libretto by the composer, it is loosely based on the Apochryphal Book Susannah and the Elders and set in New Hope Valley, Tennessee, where Susannah, an innocent teenage girl, is falsely accused as a sinner by her church community. Written while Floyd was a member of the piano faculty at Florida State University, the opera was premiered at the university on February 24, 1955.

Starring soprano Patricia Racette in the title role, this 2014 premiere by San Francisco Opera is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera. Tenor Brandon Jovanovich is Susannah’s brother Sam Polk, bass Raymond Aceto is the villain Reverend Olin Blitch, tenor James Kryshak is Little Bat and mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook is Little Bat’s mother, Mrs McLean. Directed by Michael Cavanagh, Susannah has set designs by Erhard Rom, with costumes by Michael Yeargan, lighting designs by Gary Marder, choreography by Lawrence Pech and fight direction by Dave Maier.

American conductor Karen Kamensek – in her Company debut – leads the cast and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (director Ian Robertson) in a performance sung in English with English subtitles.

Susannah will be available to view on on Saturday, July 4, at 10.00 am PT until 11:59 pm the following day.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Opera program notes

World of Opera

ArtsPreview home page

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