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B E H I N D

T H E

CURTAIN WINTER 2016

A P U B L I C AT I O N F O R S A N F R A N C I S C O O P E R A S U P P O R T E R S A N D S U B S C R I B E R S


BUILDING A

FUTURE

Behind the Curtain is a semi-annual publication for San Francisco Opera supporters and subscribers.

DE AR F RIEN D OF S AN F R A N CISCO OP ERA,

Roya Clune Jennifer Jordan W R I TE R :

Niels Swinkels DE S I G N :

Janette Cavecche Matthew Shilvock General Director Nicola Luisotti Music Director CO NTAC T U S :

Membership (415) 565-6416 Medallion Society (415) 565-6401 V I S I T US O N T H E W E B AT:

sfopera.com

COMPANY SPONSORS

The Dolby Family Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Franklin and Catherine Johnson Edmund W. and Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Fund Steven M. Menzies Bernard and Barbro Osher Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Dianne and Tad Taube Phyllis C. Wattis Endowment Funds Diane B. Wilsey

P H O T O B Y S I M O N PA U LY

E D I TO R S :

T

his has been a thrilling fall season with which to begin my tenure as General Director! From exciting new works— including the world premiere of Dream of the Red Chamber and a riveting new production of Aida—to welcome returns of successful repertoire classics including The Makropulos Case, these past few months have offered countless memorable moments for audiences in the War Memorial Opera House. None of it would be possible without the support of dedicated patrons like you. Thank you for all you do to bring great opera to life on the War Memorial stage. I look forward to sharing many more unforgettable experiences with you during the summer season and beyond. Until then I hope you’ll join me this spring at the Taube Atrium Theater for our second season of SF Opera Lab, featuring intimate performances of The Source and La Voix humaine, which you can learn more about in this issue’s feature story. I’m eagerly anticipating the return of Francesca Zambello’s Ring cycle in the 2017–18 Season. If you were here for the

SEASON SPONSOR

CORPORATE PARTNERS

San Francisco Opera is sponsored, in part, by a grant from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund

On the cover: Anna Caterina Antonacci stars in La Voix humaine this spring. Photo by Pierre Grosbois. PA G E 2

San Francisco Opera’s fall 2016 production of Aida.

Ring in 2011, you know this production is not to be missed. For a special sneak peek at the exciting cast we’ve lined up for this Ring, see page 8. As we head into 2017 and some very exciting artistic projects, I am committed to inspire audiences and create opportunities to deepen their engagement with the art form. One way this happens at San Francisco Opera is through our Orpheus program, a donor group for opera-goers ages 21–40 whose gifts to the Company are matched by a special funding program founded by San Francisco Opera Board member Ben Nelson and his wife Marina. To see how this unique program benefits young donors and the Opera alike, turn to page 5 for a firsthand account from founding Orpheus member Andrew Lan. Finally, I’d like to thank you for making my first months as your new general director more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I’m excited to continue partnering with you as we build the future of this remarkable Company—your Company—together. Warmly,

Matthew Shilvock GENERAL DIRECTOR

P H O T O B Y C O R Y W E AV E R

WINTER 2016


PHOTO BY KRISTEN LOKEN

A crowd gathers at the SF Opera Lab Pop-Up at The Chapel in San Francisco.

SF OPERA LAB T H E M A N Y FA C E S O F R & D

“Intimacy is the beating heart of the whole operation.” inaugural season have shaped what lies ahead for Season Two. Reflecting on the first season of SF Opera Lab, Pulitzer observes it was a fruitful time of experimentation and learning. “R&D takes many forms,” she says. “We did all kinds of practical testing, including signage and routing so people can easily find us on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building, internal systems and methods, creating the whole frontof-house visitor experience with a less formal approach and experimenting with different start times and levels of pricing for programs.” While Season One saw many triumphs—three of the four programs sold

out and SF Opera Lab was featured in The New York Times—some hard lessons were also learned. Pulitzer notes frankly, “One show did not sell as well as we’d hoped.” Across the board, valuable insights gleaned from Season One experiments— about what worked and what didn’t—have informed the upcoming season. Pulitzer and her team also discovered a great deal about the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, the 299-seat venue for SF Opera Lab performances presented at the Diane B. Wilsey Center

for Opera. “We have learned a lot about what that room can do. We know what the space is capable of—how to work in it and how to tell stories—and what the sound quality is like,” she says. “One surprising takeaway from the new venue is how fulfilling a performance experience can be even with very few forces involved. Intimacy is the beating heart of the whole operation. To get up close and personal with people—that is the reason why I got involved in the first place. Intimately Co n tin u e d o n pa ge 6

P H O T O B Y J A M E S M AT T H E W D A N I E L

SF

Opera Lab, the recently launched R&D branch of San Francisco Opera, is gearing up for its second season of programming. According to Elkhanah Pulitzer, Artistic Curator for SF Opera Lab, many valuable lessons learned from the program’s

The Source explores the media reactions to Chelsea Manning’s story.

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Take advantage of these shuttles as you attend performances!

TRA N S PORTAT I O N I M PR O V E M E NT F O R O P E R A L O VE R S

CHARIOT SHUTTLE SERVICES

I

n an effort to improve transportation options for Bay Area residents, this past summer we began a partnership with Chariot, a San Francisco shuttle startup. Together with Chariot we unveiled two shuttle programs—a shuttle loop from the Civic Center

BART Station and a round-trip shuttle from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station. After having great success with the summer shuttles, we decided to continue the program into the 2016–17 Season. We hope you will take advantage of these shuttles as you attend performances!

1,315

2 0 1 5 —1 6 S E A S O N

B Y THE

Number of children and adults at family workshops and movie screenings

NUMBERS 64 Number of original mini-operas created by students

36,850 Number of adults at Pre-Opera Talks

5,568 Number of attendees to Season One of SF Opera Lab

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SHUTTLE LOOP: Civic Center BART to War Memorial Opera House Before and after all 2016–17 Season performances (excluding Pride weekend, June 23–25, 2017), opera-goers may enjoy a complimentary shuttle from the Civic Center BART station to the War Memorial Opera House. Two 14-person passenger vans will pick up and drop off patrons at the corner of Grove and Hyde streets. These complimentary shuttles run in a continuous loop for 90 minutes prior to each performance and for 60 minutes following each performance. Reservations are not required. ROUND-TRIP SHUTTLE: Palo Alto Caltrain Station to War Memorial Opera House For all Saturday and Sunday performances, Chariot is providing a round-trip shuttle that picks up at the Palo Alto Caltrain station (at the corner

550 Number of participants at the ARIA Festival community event

28,000 Estimated Opera at the Ballpark attendees


WHY I GIVE of Lytton and Alma streets) two hours before curtain and drops off directly in front of the War Memorial Opera House. At the conclusion of the performance, the 14-person passenger van drives patrons back to the Palo Alto Caltrain station. The shuttle requires advance reservation and costs $30 round-trip. Patrons attending three or more Saturday or Sunday performances may purchase a Block Pass of reservations at $20 per round-trip/performance. Learn more about the Palo Alto shuttle at sfopera.com/paloalto. If you have comments or questions about these new services we’d love to hear from you. Please send us an email at transportation@sfopera.com.

13,000 Estimated Opera in the Park attendees

Andrew Lan is a founding member of Orpheus, San Francisco Opera’s dynamic community of young donors ages 21—40 who share a passion for opera and a belief in its future. Thanks to special funding, gifts from Orpheus donors are matched to bring their total contribution to the Medallion Society Founder ($3,000) level. How did you first discover opera? Trained as a violinist growing up, I was very familiar with the classical orchestral and chamber music repertoire, but knew very little about the “intimidating” world of opera. When I got to college at Stanford, I saw a flyer for San Francisco Opera’s student subscription program and decided to give it a try. It opened up a whole new world of classical music for me that involved story lines and characters as well as nearly every other artistic discipline, like an all-encompassing super-art form. I was hooked pretty quickly and have been subscribing ever since! Do you have a favorite opera? My favorite opera is Tosca, which simply has it all...gorgeous music, three vivid characters whose world views

and philosophies of life come crashing together, resulting in compelling scenes of love, jealousy, lust, torture, betrayal, despair—you know, all the ingredients for exciting opera! Why did you join Orpheus at San Francisco Opera? When my friends Ben and Marina told me about their idea of starting Orpheus, I asked them to please sign me up! I want to take this opportunity to thank them for their incredible generosity and vision in sustaining Orpheus over the years. It goes without saying, the longevity of any organization requires laying the foundation for the vital participation by the patrons of the future. Joining Orpheus has inspired my own giving and has made it possible for me to become involved with the Opera well beyond just showing up at curtain time. What have you enjoyed about being an Orpheus donor? The benefits and perks are amazing. I particularly enjoy the social opportunities to meet similarly aged opera lovers, and I also really like the various behindthe-scenes activities, without which one could easily take for granted all the hard work and detailed coordination that has gone on before a finished performance. The chance to glimpse some of these intricacies allows me to grasp more concretely why my ticket represents but a fraction of the cost involved in staging such a massive undertaking night after night.

Interested in helping young patrons like Andrew get more involved at San Francisco Opera? Consider making a gift to the Orpheus Matching Gift Program to help develop the next generation of donors! Contact Derek Jandu, Individual Giving Officer, at djandu@sfopera.com for more information. To learn more about Orpheus visit sfopera.com/orpheus. PA G E 5


P H O T O B Y S T E FA N C O H E N

German baritone Matthias Goerne starred in Winterreise during Season One of SF Opera Lab.

Co n t i n u e d f ro m p ag e 3

scaled music plus theater is a worthy platform for sharing ideas and being relevant in a community.” One such intimately scaled program, ChamberWORKS, turned out to be one of Season One’s biggest successes. “This series allowed us to lift the veil on some of the incredible talent we have in house. Each concert was curated by members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra together with Adler Fellows and a visual artist. A Q&A session followed every performance, allowing the audience to connect with the artists in a very pure and direct way.” Looking ahead to the upcoming season of SF Opera Lab, Pultizer shares that ChamberWORKS will return with another inspiring evening of programming. She also notes there will be more events in SF Opera Lab’s ongoing series of Pop-Ups. “Last season we presented three of these low-cost, very informal pop-up concerts at alternative, non-traditional venues around the City.” Performances at the Taube Atrium PA G E 6

Theater kick off on February 24 with The Source, an immersive production by composer Ted Hearne about Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army Private who leaked military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Then, on March 11, Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci returns to San Francisco with a selection of

”We plan to keep figuring things out—which is exactly the job of an R&D branch—and to keep making interesting work that people want to see!” French art songs and Poulenc’s onewoman opera La Voix humaine. And on April 23 the eight-voice a cappella group Roomful of Teeth performs a program called Shaw & Shakespeare, which will include Caroline Shaw’s Pulitzer prizewinning Partita for 8 Voices, presented in collaboration with SF Performances’ PIVOT series for one night only. Pulitzer admits that running a small

program like SF Opera Lab within a cultural juggernaut like San Francisco Opera comes with challenges. “There are ways of doing business and ways of creating art that are all very grand at San Francisco Opera. Launching a smaller-scale kind of experience inside a machine that is muscled to produce really big things took some adjustment. We’ve had to figure out how to stay institutionally nimble.” In the end, all the experiments and challenges are worthwhile. “Based on our findings from the first season, we can prioritize what to test next,” says Pulitzer. “We plan to keep figuring things out—which is exactly the job of an R&D branch—and to keep making interesting work that people want to see!”

Learn more about Season Two of SF Opera Lab at sfoperalab.com, or visit sfopera.com/labpartners to find out how you can provide support for this cutting-edge program.


P H O T O B Y J A M E S M AT T H E W D A N I E L

SUPPORT MAKE AN HONORARY OR MEMORIAL GIFT This holiday season honor the

P H O T O B Y S T E FA N C O H E N

PHOTO BY KRISTEN LOKEN PHOTO BY KRISTEN LOKEN

MEANINGFUL

opera lover in your life with a gift to San Francisco Opera. Honorary gifts are a wonderful way to celebrate your loved one’s enthusiasm for this beautiful art form while supporting the programs that keep this Company alive and vibrant. Memorial gifts are a special way to remember someone who loved San Francisco Opera. Your contribution is tax-deductible and will be recognized

PHOTO BY MICHELLE PULLMAN

in our program books all season long. Make your gift at sfopera.com/donate or call (415) 565-3212.

CUT YOUR TAXABLE INCOME FOR 2016 THROUGH AN IRA CHARITABLE ROLLOVER GIFT Last year, Congress approved

NURTURING FUTURE

legislation permanently allowing you

TALENT

to make tax-free charitable gifts from

SF Opera Lab Partners are donors dedicated to shaping the future of the art form by supporting emerging artists and cutting-edge new works such as The Source and La Voix humaine. In addition to nurturing adventurous programming and future talent, Lab Partners enjoy special perks during the SF Opera Lab season. Become a Lab Partner with a gift of $75 or more and receive all the regular benefits of San Francisco Opera membership, PLUS a voucher for a complimentary beverage of your choice at any SF Opera Lab performance at the Taube Atrium Theater. Visit sfopera.com/labpartners to join the experiment today!

if you do not itemize tax deductions.

your IRA. Not counted as income, there is no tax. You can even use this gift towards your minimum distribution requirement. This works favorably even You must be 70½ or older and you may give up to $100,000 per year. Your gift must come directly from your IRA and does not apply to other retirement plans. Questions? Contact your IRA provider or reach out to us at (415) 565-6413 or mpham@sfopera.

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I N D E P T H AT T H E

OPERA RETURN OF THE RING

F

our operas, one all-consuming story, 16 hours of some of the most thrilling music ever composed, stagecraft that conveys the history of the world, audiences so

passionate they will spend lifetimes traveling to discover the perfect Ring. This is opera at its highest peak! If you were here in 2011 when San Francisco Opera’s new Ring cycle was inaugurated, you know that it was a defining moment in our Company’s history. So it is with great excitement that we look forward to the return of Francesca Zambello’s compelling production in June 2018. Zambello imbues this larger-than-life work with a contemporary inflection while never losing sight of the powerful story—the complex motivations, emotions and characters—at the heart of Wagner’s epic chronicle of the rise and fall of the world.

Donald Runnicles returns to the podium with the rich, encompassing sweep of sound that characterizes his approach to Wagner. We are also joined by a number of incredible artists new to this Ring: • Evelyn Herlitzius (Brünnhilde), one of Europe’s most revered dramatic sopranos, will make her much-anticipated Company debut with these performances. She brings a soaring musicality and passionate intensity to a role that is considered a pinnacle of the soprano repertoire. • Greer Grimsley (Wotan) is back with us after masterful turns as the Dutchman and PA G E 8

John the Baptist (Salome). Grimsley, one of the preeminent interpreters of the role, lends an air of commanding authority and nuanced resignation as the father of the gods. • Karita Mattila (Sieglinde) returns following riveting performances as Kostelnička in our Jenůfa this past summer. Mattila debuted the role in Houston recently and, like Herlitzius, brings a visceral drama to the stage. These two artists performing together in Walküre, Act III, should be unforgettable. • Daniel Brenna (Siegfried), an American

tenor who has spent most of his professional career in Europe, will be another important Company debut in our Ring. Brenna performed Siegfried earlier this year with Washington National Opera —our co-producer—where he infused the role with energy, drive and heroism. • Falk Struckmann (Alberich) is revered as one of the great European bass-baritones, celebrated for his Scarpia, Iago, and a number of Wagnerian roles including Wotan. This will be an exciting role and Company debut. • Jamie Barton (Fricka) is an exceptional


P H O T O B Y C O R Y W E AV E R

HELP BRING THE

PASSION In the opera world, there is no greater challenge—and no finer reward—than Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung. This epic work stretches an opera company, demanding more of everything: more vision, more planning, more rehearsal, more resources and more heroes dedicated to making it all possible. Ring Circle members and production sponsors understand the financial resources required to bring this most epic work to life. As the backbone of San Francisco Opera’s 2018 Ring, you’ll enjoy special benefits leading up to and during the Ring while helping us bring this important masterpiece back to the Bay Area. The only thing that dwarfs the scale of this production is the passion of our members! Learn more about benefits or join the Ring Circle at

P H O T O B Y C O R Y W E AV E R

sfopera.com/ringcircle.

mezzo-soprano who made an indelible impression in her Company debut as Adalgisa in our 2014 production of Norma. • A number of cast members also return, including Brandon Jovanovich (Siegmund/ Froh), Stefan Margita (Loge), Ronita Miller (Erda) and David Cangelosi (Mime). Join us in 2018 as the most monumental work of art ever created returns to San Francisco. Visit sfopera.com/ring to learn more and buy your Ring tickets today. PA G E 9


C O M P A N Y

P H O T O B Y D R E W A LT I Z E R

HAPPENINGS left: Joy Bianchi poses with French poodles and models at the Opening Night Gala for Andrea ChĂŠnier.

P H O T O B Y D R E W A LT I Z E R

P H O T O B Y D R E W A LT I Z E R

PHOTO BY SCOTT WALL

below: Matthew Shilvock makes opera-themed arts and crafts with his son at the Opera ARIA Festival.

Maestro Nicola Luisotti conducts Michael Fabiano during a final rehearsal for the Celebrating David! gala concert.

Tim Yip, Stan Lai, Cecilia Chang, Gorretti Lo Lui, David Gockley, Pearl Lam Bergad, Doreen Woo Ho, Bright Sheng and Margaret Liu Collins at the Dream of the Red Chamber opening night gala.


P H O T O B Y S T E FA N C O H E N

P H O T O B Y S T E FA N C O H E N

P H O T O B Y C O R Y W E AV E R

PHOTO BY BOB HEMSTOCK

Rising star J’Nai Bridges takes the stage at Opera in the Park.

KDFC’s Star-Spangled Sing-Off winner Juanita Harris wowed AT&T Park with her rendition of the national anthem at Opera at the Ballpark.

San Francisco Opera Board member Sylvia Lindsey invited students and friends to enjoy Opera at the Ballpark from the suites at AT&T Park.


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IN THIS ISSUE

The Many Faces of R&D at SF Opera Lab The Return of the Ring Why I Give with Orpheus Member Andrew Lan Company Happenings And More!

UPCOMING

EVENTS FEBRUARY 24–MARCH 3, 2017 The Source

Taube Atrium Theater

Taube Atrium Theater

Check the following stations for P H O T O B Y J A M E S M AT T H E W D A N I E L

DECEMBER 8, 2016, 8:00PM SF Opera Orchestra Up Close: The Strings

Did you miss your favorite opera or want to relive a stunning performance? upcoming broadcasts of past San Francisco Opera performances. KDFC broadcasts live-recorded San Francisco Opera performances at 8pm PDT/PST on the first Sunday of every month on 90.3, 104.9, 89.9, 103.9, 95.9 and 92.5

Taube Atrium Theater

APRIL 23, 2017, 5:00PM Roomful of Teeth Taube Atrium Theater

P H O T O B Y B O N I C A AYA L A

MARCH 11–MARCH 17, 2017 La Voix humaine

P H O T O B Y C O R Y W E AV E R

FM. Broadcasts are also available for streaming on demand at kdfc.com for four weeks following the original air date.

TUNE IN R A D I O B R O ADCAS T S


Behind the Curtain - Winter 2016