Tuesday, January 17, 2012

San Francisco Opera's 2012–13 ... plus, a teaser that made me gasp

Kathy Bates as Dolores Claiborne
San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company’s 2012–13 repertory season. And although I was really quite jazzed to read about it - there are, after all, two world premiere commissions by Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison (The Secret Garden) as well as Mark Adamo (The Gospel of Mary Magdalene). But, it is the world premiere that is coming in the fall of 2013 that literally made me gasp at my desk. More on that later...

The Company’s 90th season opens Friday, September 7, 2012 with a gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. Maestro Luisotti leads an international cast of singers, including acclaimed Serbian baritone and Verdi specialist Željko Lučić in the title role, and the Company debuts of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro as the Duke of Mantua. Opera Ball, the Company’s celebrated signature benefit event, co-produced with the San Francisco Opera Guild in support of the San Francisco Opera and Opera Guild education programs, will precede the opening night performance at the historic War Memorial Opera House.

In addition to Rigoletto, which features two international casts of singers, San Francisco Opera’s 2012–13 Season offers Bellini’s bel canto gem I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell; the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick with Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab; Wagner’s Lohengrin; Puccini’s Tosca with Angela Gheorghiu and Patricia Racette sharing the role of the Diva; Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Christian Van Horn portraying the four villains and Natalie Dessay essaying all four ladies; and Mozart’s Così fan tutte, with a cast entirely composed of artists making stage role debuts.

Gockley also announced the extension of his contract to lead San Francisco Opera through the 2015–16 Season along with the extension of contracts for the artistic leadership team of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

The biggest announcement, at least in my opnion, was the announcement that San Francisco Opera will present the world premiere of Tobias Picker and J.D. McClatchy’s opera Dolores Claiborne, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by award-winning author Stephen King. Dolores Claiborne will open September 15, 2013, as part of the Company’s 2013–14 season, and will star ... wait for it ... wait for it ... mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in the title role (which was played by Kathy Bates in the 1995 film adaptation.)

My dearest Chiclets ... I was literally speechless at that news. Not only do I think the story of Dolores Claiborne is absolutely perfect for the operatic stage and truly couldn't think of a better composer to put his hands on it than Tobias Picker - but, Dolora Zajick as Claiborne?

No. I can't deal. Done and done. I'm through.

In a word - it's BRILLIANT.

In his Company debut, George Manahan will conduct and James Robinson, whose previous assignments at the War Memorial Opera House include the 2009 season productions of Il Trittico and Salome, will return to direct. This new production will also feature the work of scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schutte, lighting designer Chris Ackerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz.

I'm not the only one worked up about Dolores Claiborne ...

David Gockley stated, “The idea of Dolores Claiborne as an operatic work has been in my mind for quite a while. The sticking point was obtaining the rights from author Stephen King, and once that was accomplished the opera was put on the fast track for development. I’ve always admired the music of Tobias Picker—his musical language that works so well with today’s audiences by offering a spectrum of expressive qualities, his beautiful lyricism, his dramatic abilities and his brilliant orchestrations. And I’ve always thought of the character of Dolores Claiborne and celebrated mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick as a perfect match.”

Composer Tobias Picker commented, “Dolores Claiborne is a character destined for the operatic stage—passionate, desperate, trapped. She will do anything to save the daughter who despises her. Pushed to the extreme edge of life, she does what she has to, fearless and forsaken. I have wanted to write this opera for years. Yes, Stephen King is a master of suspense, but he is also a remarkable reader of human desires and fears. The superb team that San Francisco Opera has assembled allowed me to compose a powerful, heart-stopping piece of music theater for a cast of brilliant voices.”

"If anyone is going to accuse me of killing my husband go right ahead and call me Dolores!"

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