While ferry riders anxiously await the opening of the War Memorial Opera House this fall, San Francisco Opera’s weekly, free opera streams continue in July with Janáček’s intense family drama Jenůfa (July 10–11), Berlioz’s massive epic Les Troyens (The Trojans) (July 17–18), Strauss’ emotional thriller Elektra (July 24–25) and Verdi’s Tyrolean tragedy Luisa Miller (July 31–August 1).
Part of the Company’s Opera is ON initiative, free opera streams are viewable on demand with registration at sfopera.com, beginning at 10 am (PDT) on the first streaming date through 11:59 pm the following day. Current San Francisco Opera subscribers and members (donors of $75 and up) retain access to opera titles after their window of public access through August 20.
JENŮFA JULY 10–11
To begin San Francisco Opera’s July streams is the 2016 staging of Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa that both the San Francisco Chronicle and Mercury News hailed as a “triumph.” Dedicated to his recently deceased daughter, Janáček’s 1904 opera of painful loss and redemption is a 20th-century masterpiece featuring a gripping score by the Czech composer. A renowned interpreter of the titular role in this work, and in this production undertaking Kostelnička for the first time in her career is the legendary Karita Mattila, who continues her tradition of essaying Janáček lead soprano assignments (Kát’a Kabanová and The Makropulos Case) in San Francisco. Swedish soprano Malin Byström makes her Company debut as Jenůfa, the young unwed woman who must face the consequences of an accidental pregnancy. Tenors William Burden and Scott Quinn portray Kostelnička’s cousins Laca and Števa, who are in a love triangle with Jenůfa. French director Olivier Tambosi directs the cast in a Hamburg State Opera production designed by frequent collaborator Frank Philipp Schlössmann with lighting designs by Gary Marder. San Francisco Opera Chorus Director Ian Robertson prepares the Company’s chorus. Czech maestro and Janáček specialist Jiří Bĕlohlávek leads the Opera Orchestra in his final Bay Area engagement before his passing the following year. Jenůfa is performed in Czech with English subtitles and has an approximate running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes.
LES TROYENS (THE TROJANS) JULY 17–18
Rarely performed by even the largest opera companies, Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens is a massive undertaking, requiring a top-tier conductor, cast, orchestra and chorus capable of handling the musical demands of the 1858, five-act score and an extraordinary creative team to stage large-scale scenes, design gigantic set pieces and choreograph multiple ballets. This San Francisco Opera co-production with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and the Vienna State Opera contains the heaviest set ever used in the Company’s history, which necessitated reinforcement of the War Memorial Opera House stage. Leading the cast are masters of the French grand opera repertoire: American tenor Bryan Hymel as the flawed Trojan hero Aeneas, American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham as Dido, the Queen of Carthage, and Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci as the Trojan prophetess Cassandra. Amongst the artists making role debuts in this staging are baritone Brian Mulligan as Coroebus, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as Anna, bass-baritone Christian Van Horn as Narbal and tenor René Barbera as Iopas. Revival director Leah Hausman, with assistance from associate directors Richard Jones and Jose Maria Condemi, restages Sir David McVicar’s production featuring sets by Es Devlin (including a 23-foot-tall Trojan horse engulfed in flames), costumes by Moritz Junge and dramatic lighting, based on the original designs of Wolfgang Göbbel, by Pia Virolainen. San Francisco Classical Voice credits former San Francisco Opera Music Director Sir Donald Runnicles, who conducts the 95-piece Opera Orchestra, for much of the production’s “magnificent success.” Ian Robertson prepares the San Francisco Opera Chorus for the enormous crowd scenes. Associate choreographer Gemma Payne creates the opera’s ballets based on the work of the production’s original choreographer, Lynne Page. Les Troyens is performed in French with English subtitles and has an approximate total running time of 3 hours and 52 minutes.
ELEKTRA JULY 24–25
The Company’s 2017 presentation of Richard Strauss’ dramatic, one-act 1909 opera, Elektra, features an exceptional cast led by one of the greatest interpreters of the title role today, soprano Christine Goerke. She is joined by mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens as her mother, Klytemnestra; soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Elektra’s idealistic sister Chrysothemis; bass-baritone Alfred Walker as her long-lost brother, Orest, and tenor Robert Brubaker as Klytemnestra’s lover, Aegisth. Set partly in a modern museum exhibiting Greek antiquities, the production, featuring the designs of Boris Kudlička, is staged here by Anja Kühnhold (based on the work of the production’s original director, Keith Warner). Kaspar Glarner creates the costumes, John Bishop designs the lighting and Bartek Macias is the video designer. The San Francisco Chronicle calls the Company debut of Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási “unforgettable” and declares this Elektra “a tour de force of musical bravura and theatrical inventiveness.” Elektra is performed in German with English subtitles and has an approximate running time of 1 hour and 52 minutes.
LUISA MILLER JULY 31–AUGUST 1
Set in the 17th-century Tyrolean Alps, Luisa Miller is one of composer Giuseppe Verdi’s mid-career operas with text by Salvadore Cammarano based on a play by Friedrich Schiller. This 2015 San Francisco Opera production by Francesca Zambello is revived by associate director Laurie Feldman. Soprano Leah Crocetto stars as Luisa Miller, opposite Michael Fabiano as her mysterious romantic interest, “Carlo” (Rodolfo in disguise), and whose Act II tenor aria “Quando le sere al placido” is one of the musical highlights of the evening. Bay Area Reporter praises Fabiano for “filling the house with an ardent tone and [his] commitment to character.” Ukrainian baritone Vitaliy Bilyy is Luisa’s father, Miller, and bass-baritone Daniel Sumegi portrays Count Walter, the father of Rodolfo. Making her San Francisco Opera and role debuts as Federica, Rodolfo’s arranged betrothed, is the Minsk-born mezzo Ekaterina Semenchuk. Frequent Zambello collaborator Michael Yeargan creates the sets; Dunya Ramicova designs the opera’s costumes and Gary Marder is the lighting designer. Italian maestro and former San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti leads a “fervid orchestral performance” (Opera News) in this tragedy of love and familial loyalty. Luisa Miller is performed in Italian with English subtitles and has an approximate running time of 2 hours and 24 minutes.