The Re Naissance of the San Francisco Opera


(E) With the new music director Nicola Luisotti, the San Francisco Opera has already regained some new excitement, energy, and passion. Even with the cold fog over the AT&T Ball Park yesterday night, thousands of people did enjoy the simulcast of Verdi’s favorite leitmotifs of destiny and desires in Il Trovatore. This was the third free public event of the San Francisco Opera after a concert in July at Stern Grove and earlier this month at the Golden Gate Park. At the same time as Il Trovatore, the San Francisco Opera’s performances this month includes, at the War Memorial, Puccini’s Il Trittico and Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. No doubt that Luisotti seems so far to have conquered the Bay Area audience attracting even a young crowd full of enthusiasm. So, I am very much looking forward to the upcoming Strauss’s Salome, Verdi’s Otello, Gounod’s Faust and Wagner’s Die Walkure of the San Francisco Opera 2009-10 Season.

While the San Francisco Opera seems to have started its Re-Naissance, I am a little bit disappointed by the San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Although I have enjoyed over the years, Mr. Thomas celebrations of modern and contemporary music from Mahler, Ravel and Prokofiev, I wish that the San Francisco Symphony will propose a more subtle balance of modern and classics and MTT would amaze us with refreshed and creative interpretations of the classics. Having said that, MTT will be performing in December Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (and I will be in the audience for that performance), this year Yo-Yo Ma is an Artist-in-Residence at the Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic will be performing in November.

We cannot live with only one type of art. To develop and nurture our emotions, we need to access the full spectrum of artistic expressions. At the same that I was discovering recently a wonderful String Quartet from Erich Wolfgang Korngold, I was discovering a very touching Piano Quintet from Schumann. And, in order to appreciate the new recipes of a new Chef, we need to have mastered before the old recipes from Julia Child.

Note 1: The picture above is from the Act I: The Duel of Il Trovatore.

Note 2: Following is the cast and production of the 2009 IL Trovatore from the San Francisco Opera:


  • Manrico: Marco Berti
  • Leonora: Sondra Radvanovsky
  • Azucena: Stephanie Blythe / Malgorzata Walewska
  • Count di Luna: Dmitri Hvorostovsky / Quinn Kelsey
  • Ferrando: Burak Bilgili
  • Inez: Renée Tatum
  • Ruiz: Andrew Bidlack
  • A Messenger: Dale Tracy
  • A Gypsy: Bojan Knezevic


  • Conductor: Nicola Luisotti
  • Director: David McVicar
  • Revival Director: Walter Sutcliffe
  • Set Designer: Charles Edwards
  • Costume Designer: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
  • Lighting Designer: Jennifer Tipton
  • Choreographer: Leah Hausman

Note 3: For a good guide and reviews of concerts in the Bay Area, I recommend the blog “Not For Fun Only” from Axel Feldheim.

Note 4: Dianne Nicolini from 102.1 KDFC wrote an article on her blog about the SF Opera event at the AT&T Ball Park.

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Categories: Arts