Cleopatra's Palace in Alexandria Set design by Mimi Lien for John Adams' "Antony and Cleopatra"

“Anthony and Cleopatra” Makes its World Premiere with SF Opera

Not all ferry rides can be routine. Just ask the “Queen of the Nile” about her final fateful journey.

San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra on Saturday, September 10, with performances through October 5.

From the composer of Nixon in China, this new work is an international co-commission and co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, Barcelona’s Liceu Opera and Palermo’s Teatro Massimo created especially for San Francisco Opera’s 100th season which opens September 9 with a gala concert and Opera Ball. The September 18 matinee performance of Antony and Cleopatra will be livestreamed and available on demand for 48 hours. Virtual tickets for the livestream go on sale later this month.

The libretto for Antony and Cleopatra is adapted from Shakespeare’s drama by the composer with consultation by Elkhanah Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner.

San Francisco Opera Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim will conduct this highly anticipated new work. The cast is headed by Egyptian soprano Amina Edris creating the role of Cleopatra and noted Adams collaborators bass-baritone Gerald Finley as Antony and tenor Paul Appleby as Caesar. Chorus Director John Keene prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus to portray the peoples of Rome and Alexandria.

The production by director Elkhanah Pulitzer presents the story’s political battles and the famous love story of these figures from antiquity through an updated setting inspired by 1930s Hollywood glamor. The use of newsreel footage will enhance the characters’ larger-than-life public personas, while Cleopatra, Antony and Caesar are illuminated in their intimate interactions amid the mounting tension and fierce pulse of Adams’ score. Pulitzer heads a production team of Tony Award-winning set designer and MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien, costume designer Constance Hoffman, lighting designer David Finn, projection designer Bill Morrison and sound designer and mixing engineer Mark Grey.

Antony and Cleopatra adds a new chapter to the storied connection between San Francisco Opera and one of the world’s most prominent composers. John Adams’ Doctor Atomic (2005) and Girls of the Golden West (2017) were commissioned by the Company and had their world premieres at the War Memorial Opera House, while The Death of Klinghoffer, a San Francisco Opera co-commission, and Nixon in China were presented here in 1992 and 2012, respectively. Now celebrating his 75th year, the composer and Bay Area resident was honored this summer with the Nonesuch Records release of John Adams Collected Works, a 40-CD boxed set featuring orchestral, chamber music and opera recordings spanning more than four decades.

Now in her second season as San Francisco Opera’s Music Director, Eun Sun Kim leads Orchestra, Chorus and cast. Named a New York Times 2021 Breakout Star, Kim’s work on the podium leading Tosca for the Company was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle: “New music director Eun Sun Kim seized control of the score and led a performance of heaving intensity, subtle mood shifts and piquant details.” Along with Antony and Cleopatra, she will conduct Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites (October 15–30) and new productions of Verdi’s La Traviata (November 11–December 3) and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly (June 3–July 1, 2023) with the Company this season, along with multiple concerts including the Opening Night Concert (September 9).

Free opportunities to experience Eun Sun Kim conduct San Francisco Opera during the Centennial Season include the Opera in the Park concert at Golden Gate Park (September 11) and the live Opera at the Ballpark simulcast to Oracle Park of La Traviata (November 11). For more information about San Francisco Opera’s Centennial, visit

The seven performances of Antony and Cleopatra are scheduled for September 10 (7:30 p.m.), 15 (7:30 p.m.), 18 (2 p.m.), 23 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (7:30 p.m.); October 2 (2 p.m.), 5 (7:30 p.m.), 2022.