San Francisco Opera to offer Theofanidis premiere in 2011-12

January 20, 2011
By Michael Quinn

Christopher Theofanidis. Photo: Alexandra Gardner

San Francisco Opera’s 89th season will include a tribute  to Frederica von Stade and four works new to the Bay Area company’s repertoire, including the world premiere of a new opera by Christopher Theofanidis.

Heart of a Soldier was commissioned to mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and opens on September 10. It features a libretto by Donna Di Novelli and is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart’s book of the same name. It will be staged by SFO artistic adviser Francesca Zambello, with principal guest conductor Patrick Summers in the pit.

Three operas receive their company premieres during the season, including John Adams’ Nixon in China – a full quarter-century after it was first seen at Houston Grand Opera. Michael Cavanagh’s production arrives in San Francisco via Vancouver Opera, where it will be conducted by Lawrence Renes, whose interpretation of Adams’ Doctor Atomic in London, England in 2009 was widely admired.

Also new is John Pascoe’s Washington National Opera production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia – soprano Renée Fleming, for whom the production was created, will reprise the role in San Francisco, with Riccardo Frizza conducting – and Michael Walling’s revival of Nicholas Hytner’s award-winning English National Opera staging of Handel’s Xerxes, with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and countertenor David Daniels.

Three new productions have also been announced: two by Mozart –The Magic Flute, which will be designed by the Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko and directed by Harry Silverstein and Don Giovanni in a production by Italian film and theater director Gabriele Lavia making his U.S. debut; and Verdi’s Attila in a co-production with Teatro alla Scala, Milan conducted by Nicola Luisotti, with Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role.

Luisotti will also conduct a one-off concert celebration of Frederica von Stade, featuring the mezzo and guest artists on December 3.

Jean-Pierre Ponelle’s staging of Carmen’s Bizet and David Hockney’s Turandot are also to be revived, Puccini’s opera opening the season in a gala performance on September 9. For further details go to

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