Venue Details

129 Star Starred
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave. San Francisco, CA 94102
415-865-2000
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Website

http://www.sfopera.com/opera.asp?o=238

Description

The Star
Soprano Patricia Racette renders an impeccable and effortless performance as the young geisha. Miss Racette was praised for her “dramatically dazzling portrayal” of Cio-Cio-San by the Houston Chronicle. This former Merola artist’s return is not to be missed.

Sounds
Determined to craft an authentic and vibrant musical landscape, Puccini wove traditional Japanese music into his beloved score. He considered Madama Butterfly to be the most imaginative opera he ever wrote.

Sights
Our “thoughtful, historically respectful production” (San Francisco Chronicle) is redolent of Japan in the late 1800s, down to the finest details. The set, attended by shadowy Kabuki-like figures, features elegant sliding shoji screens, which create a smooth, nearly cinematic pace.

Story
While on assignment in Japan, an American naval officer acquires a bride—the geisha Cio-Cio-San, known as Butterfly. She rejects her religion, family and culture for her new husband, Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, but he soon abandons her and leaves the country. Butterfly waits faithfully for three years for Pinkerton, who returns at last, only to claim the son she bore him, setting Butterfly on a tragic course.

Cast
Cio-Cio-San: Patricia Racette
Suzuki: Zheng Cao
B.F. Pinkerton: Franco Farina*
Sharpless: Phillip Joll*

Production
Conductor: Donald Runnicles
Director: Ron Daniels
Designer: Michael Yeargan
Lighting Designer: Stephen Strawbridge
Chorus Director: Ian Robertson
Simulcast Director: Bruce Bryant*

*San Francisco Opera debut
Cast, programs and schedules are subject to change

Approximate running time: 3 hours
Sung in Italian with English Supertitles

About the Ticket Supplier: San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler were the Company's first two general directors. Merola led the Company from its founding in 1923 until his death in 1953; Adler was in charge from 1953 through 1981. Legendary for both their conducting and managerial skills, the two leaders established a formidable institution that is internationally recognized as one of the top opera companies in the world--heralded for its first-rate productions and roster of international opera stars. Following Adler's tenure, the Company was headed by three visionary leaders: Terence A. McEwen (1982-1988), Lotfi Mansouri (1988-2001), and Pamela Rosenberg (2001-2005). Originally presented over two weeks, the Company's season now contains approximately seventy-five performances of ten operas between September and July. San Francisco Opera recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of its performing home, the War Memorial Opera House. The venerable beaux arts building was inaugurated on October 15, 1932 and holds the distinction of being the first American opera house that was not built by and for a small group of wealthy patrons; the funding came thanks to a group of private citizens who encouraged thousands of San Franciscans to subscribe. The War Memorial currently welcomes some 500,000 patrons annually.

David Gockley became San Francisco Opera's sixth general director in January of 2006 after more than three decades at the helm of Houston Grand Opera. During his first months as general director, Gockley took opera to the center of the community with a free outdoor simulcast--the first in the Company's history--of Puccini's Madama Butterfly in May 2006. Subsequent simulcasts included Rigoletto in October 2006, reaching 15,000 people in San Francisco and Stanford University's Frost Amphitheater; Don Giovanni in June 2007, which was broadcast to 7,000 people in four theaters across Northern California; and Samson and Delilah for an audience of 15,000 at AT&T Park in September 2007. In 2007, Gockley led San Francisco Opera to take these innovations even further and created the Koret-Taube Media Suite. The first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house, the Koret-Taube Media Suite gives the Company the permanent capability to produce simulcasts and other projects including OperaVision, where retractable screens provide full stage, close-up, and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video for patrons in balcony seats. Gockley ushered in another first for San Francisco Opera in December 2007 when the Company announced an agreement for distribution of six operas per year to movie theaters across the globe. This agreement with The Bigger Picture, a subsidiary of Access Integrated Technologies, Inc., marks the first time that any opera company will utilize the feature film quality digital cinema format and underscores how the era of digital cinema is transforming how and where great entertainment reaches new audiences.

Gockley's partner in artistic programming and musical issues is Music Director and Principal Conductor Donald Runnicles, appointed in 1992. During his tenure, Runnicles has championed new repertory ranging from the world premieres of John Adams's Doctor Atomic (2005) to Conrad Susa's The Dangerous Liaisons (1994), in addition to the spectacular American stage premiere of Olivier Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise (2002) and the West Coast premiere of Stewart Wallace's Harvey Milk (1996). After seventeen years with the San Francisco Opera, Maestro Runnicles will step down as music director in the summer of 2009. He will continue his relationship with the Company, conducting a new production of Peter Grimes and the "American" Ring Cycle, which continues into the 2010-11 season. Nicola Luisotti, a rising star in the opera world, will succeed Donald Runnicles as music director in the fall of 2009.

San Francisco Opera offers a comprehensive array of acclaimed training programs and performance opportunities for young artists under the auspices of the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program (each a separate institution). Both are led by renowned soprano Sheri Greenawald.