San Francisco Opera opens its 2022 Summer Season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni from June 4–July 2 at the War Memorial Opera House. Director Michael Cavanagh’s new production is the third and final chapter of San Francisco Opera’s multi-year Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy, presenting all three operatic collaborations by Mozart and poet Lorenzo Da Ponte within the same American house setting at different points over a 300-year span. Conductor Bertrand de Billy makes his Company debut leading an international cast headed by Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni and Adela Zaharia as Donna Anna, both in Company debuts, with Carmen Giannattasio, Christina Gansch, Luca Pisaroni, Amitai Pati, Cody Quattlebaum and Soloman Howard.
The Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy launched in 2019 with the popular and critically praised production of The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro) set in America’s early postcolonial period when the American house setting and the nation itself were newly founded. The narrative arc continued in November 2021 with Così fan tutte, in which Cavanagh’s “richly inventive touch” (San Francisco Chronicle) moved the action to the 1930s where the house has been converted into a country club and the characters find themselves at moral crossroads.
The director and his creative team of set and projection designer Erhard Rom, costume designer Constance Hoffman and lighting designer Jane Cox conclude their vision for the trilogy with Don Giovanni, set 150 years after the previous installment in an uncertain future where the house and society are crumbling. Cavanagh said: “When we charted the Great American House journey, we deliberately stretched our timeline to demonstrate the universality and timelessness of the common themes in these amazing works. In Don Giovanni, the greed, desire and hunger for power without regard for impact on our fellow human beings has stolen our future and loosed monsters on the world. And those monsters look like us.”
Don Giovanni follows the titular Don, a nobleman whose womanizing and rapacious self-interest lead to a fiery retribution. Witty, darkly humorous and filled with exuberant melodic invention, the opera reveals the 31-year-old Mozart at a creative peak. Parisian conductor Bertrand de Billy will conduct the 1788 version of the score, wherein Mozart added arias and made other changes for the work’s presentation in Vienna six months after its first performances in Prague. In his first performances since joining the Company in January, San Francisco Opera’s Chorus Director John Keene prepares the Opera Chorus.
Canadian baritone Etienne Dupuis, who recently made waves at the Metropolitan Opera as Rodrigue in Verdi’s Don Carlos, brings his acclaimed interpretation of the central character of this Mozart and Da Ponte work. Opera Canada said: “[Dupuis] deploys immense charm and seduction, phrasing with infinite finesse.” Adding to his gallery of memorable Mozartean roles on the War Memorial Opera House stage, bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni is Leporello. Pisaroni’s celebrated portrayal of the Don’s henchman was praised by the New York Times for its “charm” and “touch of swagger.”
Adela Zaharia makes her Company debut as Donna Anna, a role she has recently performed on the leading opera stages of Paris, Amsterdam, London and Madrid. About the Romanian soprano, the Los Angeles Times observed “[Adela Zaharia’s] voice was equal parts shimmer and opulence.” Carmen Giannattasio takes on the role of Donna Elvira. Since making her sensational San Francisco Opera debut as Tosca in 2018, the Italian soprano has received praise in a variety of core Italian repertory, including her “committed” Joan of Arc in Verdi’s early work Giovanna d’Arco: “Carmen Giannattasio brough a voice of beauty, texture and lyrical amplitude to the challenging role” (Opera News).
Samoan-born tenor and former San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Amitai Pati is Don Ottavio and soprano Christina Gansch, a standout in the Company’s 2019 production of Handel’s Orlando, is Zerlina. Former Merola Opera Program participant and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum makes his Company debut as Masetto. Bass Soloman Howard, who appeared earlier this season with San Francisco Opera in Beethoven’s Fidelio and Puccini’s Tosca, will portray the Commendatore.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles the eight performances of Don Giovanni are scheduled for June 4 (7:30 pm), June 10 (7:30 pm), June 12 (2 pm), June 15 (7:30 pm), June 18 (7:30 pm), June 21 (7:30 pm), June 26 (2 pm); July 2 (7:30 pm), 2022.