Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cruzar la Cara de la Luna - 31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

As a special addition to San Diego Opera's 2013 International Season, we present Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, the first Mariachi Opera featuring renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán. Celebrate the music, memories, color and high spirits of Mexico as the rich classical sounds of the traditional mariachi and brilliant soloists create a poignant and moving opera which will appeal to all audiences.

The Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán

  Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán

The renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, known as the World’s Best Mariachi and heard on more than 800 recordings, take the stage for the first mariachi opera, a bi-lingual work following three generations of a single family, spanning countries, cultures and customs.  Performed to ecstatic reviews in Houston and Paris, this semi-staged production receives its West Coast premiere. “A multicultural winner”, “a stunning, emotional Mariachi opera”, “the bright Mariachi orchestration (violins, trumpets, harp and guitars) and endless variation of song forms are irresistible” says the media.

The plot
Mark, a Mexican-American dealing with the approaching death of his immigrant father, faces questions about his own place in the world - straddling two cultures - as well as that of his father and his American daughter. As long-buried secrets are revealed, he finds himself dramatically re-evaluating his own understanding of what makes a family.  Like the Monarch butterflies which migrate every year to the birthplace of Mark’s father, the members of the Velasquez family must travel both physically and spiritually between Michoacán and Texas and look deep into their hearts before they learn where they truly belong.

 A photo of the Mariachi Opera. Photo by Felix Sanchez, Houston Grand Opera.

Directed by Broadway star Leonard Foglia, with supertitles in English and Spanish, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna will speak to your heart.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aida - 31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

Our season will end with the vivid, colorful and famous Aida by Giuseppe Verdi who celebrates his 200th Birthday in 2013.

The plot
Aida tells the story of the tragic love triangle of Amneris, the Pharaoh’s daughter, who is competing for the love of the Egyptian general Radames with her own Ethiopian slave, Aida.

The production
 Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes’ vivid designer’s eye enhances Verdi’s vision of ancient Egypt in this stunning production. Acclaimed in London, San Francisco and Houston, the brilliant sets and costumes are seen in San Diego for the first time, creating a riot of color and pageantry.

 The triumphal march - Photo by Cory Weaver

The cast

Filled with great arias and choruses, including the famous Triumphal March, Aida demands extraordinary singers in every role.

Latonia Moore, Walter Fraccaro, Jill Grove and Mark S. Doss

Rising American star Latonia Moore conquered Covent Garden as Aida: “I can honestly say that I have not heard an Aida like her at Covent Garden…or, for that matter, anywhere else…Moore is a world-class artist”(Opera Magazine, UK). Italian tenor, Walter Fraccaro, as Radames, “…whose singing is “burnished and impassioned” (The New York Times), Jill Grove as Amneris “…a low mezzo bordering on contralto (with) a rich and full bottom voice” (La Scena Musicale), and Mark S. Doss with his “…strong and authoritative bass-baritone voice” (San Francisco Sentinel) as Amonasro, lead the cast. 

Daniele Callegari and Andrew Sinclair

Italian conductor Daniele Callegari makes his San Diego Opera debut with Andrew Sinclair directing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness Murder in the Cathedral

Ildebrando Pizzetti’s ‘Assassinio nella cattedrale’ is based on an actual historic event, the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170.

Thomas Becket
Thomas Becket was born in London in 1118. His humble parents made sure he learned to read and sent him to Paris for his studies. After various jobs as a clerk and deacon, he became the young king’s Chancellor at the age of thirty-six, the second most powerful person in the country. The relationship between King Henry II and the twenty year older Thomas Becket at that time is documented as a strong friendship with both men enjoying splendor. This did however change in 1162 when Henry II made Becket the Archbishop of Canterbury. Feeling like he could not serve two masters, Thomas Becket resigned as Chancellor, choosing God over the king. Along with this switch came a grave change in lifestyle, Becket became a prime example of a disciplined and praying priest.
Conflicts and many misunderstanding between king and archbishop followed, causing him to go into exile in France in 1164. Seven years and many efforts by the pope and the French king Louis VII later reconciliation seemed to have been reached. Becket returned to Canterbury to be murdered 27 days later by four knights on December 29, 1170. On February 21, 1173, — little more than two years after his death — Archbishop Thomas Becket was canonised by Pope Alexander III and has ever since been known as Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Many wonders were found and for the rest of the Middle Ages his shrine was one of the wealthiest and most famous in Europe.

The Murder
Learn more about his murder by watching this excellent BBC documentary:

San Diego Opera's Murder in the Cathedral has its West Coast premiere in America on March 30, 2013. It is directed by Ian Campbell and starring Ferruccio Furlanetto as Becket.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness - Murder in the Cathedral

Conducted by La Scala’s Donato Renzetti, directed by Ian Campbell and starring Ferruccio Furlanetto as Becket, Ildebrando Pizzetti's Murder in the Cathedral has its West Coast Premiere in America, combining faith, passion, tragedy and hope.

The plot
Archbishop Thomas Becket, brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in December 1170 defending his church against the intrusions of King Henry II, became a Christian martyr and Saint at whose tomb Henry was forced to pay penance. Based on the T. S. Eliot play, the opera covers the last 27 days of Becket’s life as he struggles with politics, religion and temptation.

The production
San Diego Opera's new production will be traditional. Here are two sketches of the scenery:

It is directed by San Diego Opera's very own Ian Campbell. The sets are designed by San Diego favorite Ralph Funicello.

 Ian Campbell and Ralph Funicello

Costumes are created by Bulgarian costume designer Denitsa Bliznakova who makes her San Diego Opera debut in this production.

costume sketches

The cast
 Ferruccio Furlanetto

The lyrical and melodic score is a tour-de-force for the great bass Ferruccio Furlanetto who is “…strong in rejecting the temptations and in rebutting the assassins’ charges of treasonous behavior toward the king, yet his singing in the sermon has a touching eloquence…” (The New York Times review of his La Scala performance as Becket).

 Donato Renzetti, Susan Neves, Helene Schneiderman and Allan Glassman

The opera is conducted by Donato Renzetti in his debut here. Susan Neves and Helene Schneiderman lead the women of Canterbury commenting on the action while unable to interfere with events which seem ordained to happen. American Tenor Allan Glassman is the Herald.

Listen to Nicolas Reveles, our Geisel Director of Education, talking about our upcoming production of Murder in the Cathedral:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness - Samson and Delilah

The Composer
Camille Saint-Saëns was born in Paris on October 9, 1835. A generally talented person, he started taking piano lessons aged two and wrote his first work at three. At twelve, he started studying organ and composition at the Paris Conservatory. Finally aged twenty, he had won the support of Berlioz, Liszt, Gounod, Rossini, and other notable figures. Other interests of him were geology, languages and astronomy as well as traveling which he did extensively in the last period of his life. During his life time he was celebrated in England and the United States as France’s greatest living composer leading to a triumphant concert tour in the U.S. in 1915. He died on December 16, 1921, in Algeria.
An anomaly among French composers of the nineteenth century, he wrote in all genres, including opera, symphonies, concertos, songs, sacred and secular choral music, solo piano, and chamber music. Mainly known for works such as The Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre or his Piano Concert no. 2, the French composer wrote 10 Operas in total, of which Samson and Delilah is the most famous.
Samson and Delilah
The story of Samson and Delilah can be found in the book of Judges, chapters 13 to 16. When Camille Saint-Saëns started to work on it in 1867, he intended to create an oratorio. His librettist Ferdinand Lemaire, however, saw the dramatic value of this tragic story and convinced the composer to turn it into an opera. It took Saint-Saëns a long time and the support of Franz Liszt to eventually finish it in 1876. The world premier took place at the Weimar Opera in 1877. In 1882 a second German production in Hamburg followed. Eight years later the work finally reached his home country at Rouen and was first performed in French. After a performance at the Paris Opéra in 1892 the opera managed to get international attention and nowadays belongs to the most often presented work of Saint-Saëns.
Opera vs. Oratorio
Ever since Samson and Delilah’s first performances Opera lovers have been debating about the works musical genre. Camille Saint-Saëns called it an Opera but isn’t it more an oratorio, a sacred concert piece for soloists, chorus and orchestra? Its topic is biblical, the male characters are only two-dimensional and especially the first chorus sounds very much like Mendelsohns Elijah. But it is Delilah that makes this work an Opera. She is three-dimensional, a character of depth whose motivations are more psychological than an oratorio-bound biblical character would allow. Her music is ’french’ - fluid, lush, romantic and brilliantly orchestrated with a touch of fantasy and worldly sensuality. She also is and this is rather rare for the main female character a mezzo-soprano.
But see for yourself, here is the most famous aria from Samson and Delilah ’Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’ sung by the great Olga Borodina:

Our Samson and Delilah
Nadia Krasteva who has previously been seen at the Vienna State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper Berlin, will make her role debut as Delilah. She will soon be seen as Amneris at the Theatro alla Scala and is certainly someone to look out for. If you ask her Samson and Delilah is ’one of the most famous and beautiful operas ever written’ and we can not wait to hear the ’rich, smoky colors and earthy sensuality (in) her voice’ (The Chicago Tribune).
Clifton Forbis returns as Samson, whose “…brilliant voice and acting (as Samson) conveyed the inner torment" (SignOnSanDiego).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Samson and Delilah

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

Our second opera of the season is Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah. The impressive production full of action, ballet dancing, drama and great singing returns to our stage on February 16, 2013.

The plot

The Bible’s Samson and Delilah tells the tragic story of the Hebrew Samson who is send by god to save Israel from the Phillistines. Physically strong, Samson cannot repel the advances of the seductive Delilah. Urged on by the High Priest of Dagon, she makes him reveal the source of his strength, his hair, which she cuts, rendering him powerless. Captured and blinded, Samson calls on God for forgiveness, destroying the temple and all within it, including the treacherous Delilah.

 Act One

The production

Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson and Delilah return to our stage in a production described by the North County Times as “…one of the most memorable San Diego Opera productions of the past decade (with) stunning and gargantuan sets, vivid lighting, gorgeous costumes, an erotic ballet and a seeming cast of thousands…”

Temple scenery

Owned by the San Francisco Opera, it was build in 1980 and designed by Douglas Schmidt.  The 211 costumes were designed by Carrie Robbins who used different fabrics to delineate the different groups. The Philistines have bright colors, fabrics with metallic threads, and a slim silhouette while the Hebrews are more modest in cottons and wools with stripes.  

Ballet Dancing

It is a truly Grand Opera production that includes fascinating scenery, great effects such as 12 bursts of flame and ballet dancing.

The cast

Clifton Forbis and Nadia Krasteva

 Anooshah Golesorkhi and Karen Keltner

Clifton Forbis returns as Samson, whose “…brilliant voice and acting (as Samson) conveyed the inner torment" (SignOnSanDiego). Mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva, described by the Chicago Tribune as having “…rich, smoky colors and earthy sensuality (in) her voice” makes her role debut as Delilah with Anooshah Golesorkhi as the scheming High Priest. San Diego’s own Karen Keltner conducts the sinuous and melodic score and Lesley Koenig directs this thrilling production.

You can take a closer visual look at our production here.

For more information visit our homepage.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tenors of the 2013 Season

Tenors are considered by many audience members as the 'glories' of opera. What they do seems beautiful, athletic, stunning and unreasonable, all at once. Well, we have some wonderful tenor roles this upcoming season: Tonio in The Daughter of the Regiment, Samson in Samson and Delilah, and Radames in Aida. Tune in as Nicolas Reveles, the Geisel Director of Education and Outreach opens up the world of the operatic tenor in this week's installment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Here is a little challenge

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

Today's 31 Days of Opera Awesomeness gives you this amazing Daughter of the Regiment jigsaw puzzle. Have fun!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Music from The Daughter of the Regiment

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

The Daughter of the Regiment is a comic opera which is defined as a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature that usually ends well. Composed by Donizetti in 1840 for the Paris Opera Comique, it tells the story of the young orphan Marie who has been adopted by a regiment and later is found to be the Marquise’s niece. The libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Jean Francois Bayard gave Donizetti the chance to write military rhythms, pastoral chorals, majestic orchestra pieces, passionate arias and love duets. It is an opera that demands exceptional skills from the singers. The tenor aria "Ah me amis" for example requires the singer to sing nine high C's.

Listen to what Nicolas Reveles, our Geisel director of education, has to say about the orchestra, the duets and much more!

The orchestra in The Daughter of the Regiment
The choir in The Daughter of the Regiment

The soprano in The Daughter of the Regiment

The arias in The Daughter of the Regiment

The duets in The Daughter of the Regiment

And last but not least, here are our favorite arias from The Daughter of the Regiment:

Nathalie Dessay as Marie sings 'C'en est donc fait"

The great Pavarotti as Tonio singing "Ah me amis"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

31 Days of Opera Awesomeness

Gaetano Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment 

The first opera of our upcoming season is the Donizetti’s comic opera The Daughter of the Regiment. Written by the Italian composer in Paris, it was first performed at the Paris Opéra-Comique in 1840 in french.  

The Plot
The Daughter of the Regiment tells the story of the young orphan Marie who has been adopted by a regiment of the American army. Young and wild, a true army girl, she travels with the regiment and sees them all as her father. After meeting Tonio, a French peasant, they fall in love with each other. This leads Tonio to enlist in the regiment and everything seems perfect until Sgt. Sulpice meets the Marquise of Birkenfeld who turns out to be Marie’s aunt. Exhilarated about the finding of her long-lost niece, the Marquise decides to take Marie home to the family’s chateau. Comedy ensues as Marie attempts to adapt to her new life, as she discovers that the identity of the Marquise is not what she was led to believe.

Scenes from the production, Photos by Karen Cooper/Washington National Opera 

The Production
This delightful production comes from Italy’s Teatro Comunale di Bologna and sets the Opera in to the waning days of World War II. Costumes and sets were designed by Julio Galan who died in 2006. Since its premiere in 2004 the production has been shown in Geneva, Tokyo, Washington, Houston, Bilbao and Tel Aviv.

Have a look at this video to learn more about the production!

The Cast 
L’ubica Vargicová, described by the New York Times as having “…devilish coloratura with fearless attack” sings Marie with Stephen Costello whose “…polished tenor boasts… command, brightness at the top” ( singing the nine high Cs. Ewa Podles “…a force of nature…”, (U-T San Diego) is the Marquise of Birkenfeld with Kevin Burdette as Sulpice.

L’ubica Vargicová, Stephen Costello, Ewa Podles and Kevin Burdette.

Toronto-born conductor, Yves Abel and stage director, Emilio Sagi, make their San Diego Opera debuts. 

Here is an extended preview on our Daughter of the Regiment by Nicolas Reveles, our Geisel Director of Education!

You can find even more information and interesting facts at !

What year did we perform The Daughter of the Regiment last?