San Francisco Opera continues to keep opera alive for its many enthusiasts – and in presenting the fall season online, gives many opera lovers the world over an opportunity to enjoy productions by this top tier company as well.
This fall, San Francisco Opera presents Puccini’s Tosca, Verdi’s Attila and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro – all archived recordings from the Company’s repertoire filmed at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.
Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca – the opening production of the season – was written in 1899 and 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 historical melodrama 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, who puts herself at risk as they try to evade the corruption which was rife in the city of Rome at that time.
Tosca premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900, and although it features some of the composer’s most beautiful and best known lyrical arias – such as Vissi d’arte and E lucevan le stelle – it was apparently not particularly well received by the critics. The audiences, however, loved it, and it has retained this popularity with opera-going audiences ever since.
The title role in this San Francisco Opera production is sung by Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian in what was her role debut and also her first appearance for the Company. Ms Haroutounian – of whom the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “You could listen to her singing Puccini’s music all night” – is a much sought-after interpreter of the heroines of Verdi and Puccini, as well as of the French, Russian and Slavic repertoire.
Singing the role of Tosca’s lover, Mario Cavaradossi, is American tenor Brian Jagde – “an artist with a remarkable future” says Opera World. Mr Jagde has previously appeared in this role for San Francisco Opera, as well as in the roles of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Don José in Carmen and Calaf in Turandot.
The notorious villain and chief of police, Baron Scarpia, is sung by American Bass-baritone Mark Delavan who has appeared for San Francisco Opera more than 17 times. These include his portrayal of Wotan in the Company’s 2011 presentation of the Ring cycle – which won high praise – and his appearance as Scarpia in the 2012 production of Tosca.
Other members of the cast include bass Scott Conner as Angelotti, bass-baritone Dale Travis as the Sacristan, tenor Joel Sorensen sings Spoletta, baritone Efraín Solís appears as Sciarrone and baritone Hadleigh Adams as the Jailer.
Direction is by Jose Maria Condemi, whose engagements with San Francisco Opera also include productions of Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Faust, Così fan tutte, Un Ballo in Maschera, The Elixir of Love for Families and the 2013 world premiere of The Secret Garden.
Designer Thierry Bosquet has a long history of set and costume design for San Francisco Opera. The design for Tosca – first conceived by Lotfi Mansouri in 1997- is based on the original by Armando Agnini for the Company’s first presentation of the work in the War Memorial Opera House in 1932.
Lighting is by the Company’s Resident Lighting Designer Gary Marder.
Italian maestro Riccardo Frizza – “one of the most sought after Bel Canto conductors” according to Opera Wire – leads the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus and the San Francisco Boys Chorus (Chorus Director Ian Robertson).
Puccini’s Tosca, performed in Italian with English supertitles, was recorded in October 2014, and can be viewed online on October 10th, from 10.00 am (PDT) until 11:59 pm on October 11th. For details, visit the San Francisco Opera website.
Information sourced from San Francisco Opera programme notes and artists’ websites.