Opera Blog

March 26, 2021

The Incomparable Lawrence Brownlee

Set in the country's heartland at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the Rust Belt enclave of Youngstown, Ohio is better known for its steel and manufactured goods than for producing masters of the music of Rossini and Donizetti. Yet Lawrence Brownlee, lyric tenor and premier exponent of the bel canto repertoire, has emerged as one of that city's most prominent native sons. Endowed with a richly textured tone, lightning quick agility, and extraordinary range, he sits atop opera's A-list, sought after by virtually every notable company on both sides of the Atlantic. And as an African-American male artist at the pinnacle of success, he has learned to thrive in the rarefied air of opera stardom against the headwinds of America's cultural history.

July 17, 2020

Confronting Genius: Director Aria Umezawa on Battling Harassment in Opera

“You need to learn how to slap people around more.” That’s the advice director Aria Umezawa remembers receiving early in her career. It ran contrary to the ideals she had been raised with. It made her question whether she had a place in opera. “Certainly I wondered if the industry wanted me. I never really questioned if I wanted opera,” Umezawa said.

July 3, 2020

Susannah and Sam Polk Speak: An Interview with Patricia Racette and Brandon Jovanovich

The San Francisco Opera premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah on September 6, 2014 was one of those big nights. The opera had been performed in the House before in 1967 by the affiliated yet separate Spring Opera Theater Company (with the composer-librettist himself also acting as stage director), but even as she racked up hundreds of performances worldwide, Susannah had to wait another five decades for a return.

July 1, 2020

American Icon: Carlisle Floyd Talks About Life and Opera

On February 24, 1955, when the final curtain came down on the world premiere of Susannah, Carlisle Floyd’s life changed forever. Until then, the young pianist and assistant professor at Florida State University had no plans to devote himself to composing operas. But, with that moment, the disparate influences and events of his life came together to make his destiny impossible to ignore.

June 26, 2020

Fate, Feminism, and Physics: In Conversation with Sheri Greenawald

If you Google “Sheri Greenawald Manon” you’ll come across an LA Times review written by Martin Bernheimer following Greenawald’s 1986 performance at San Francisco Opera.

June 19, 2020

From Hollywood to the Pit: Flutist Stephanie McNab on Her Journey to San Francisco Opera

Late at night, when her home is finally quiet, she can bring out her flute to practice. School has ended and, with it, the challenge of distance-learning in the time of the coronavirus quarantine.

June 8, 2020

At the Intersection of Opera and Drag, Artists Look to the Future

Hers was the typical opera success story. A young mezzo-soprano with big dreams, she left her native Moscow to apprentice as a young artist in Paris, and there she had her lucky break. It was opening night at the Opera Garnier. Carmen was on the bill. And the performer in the title role? Indisposed after a run-in with a bus.

June 8, 2020

Talking Pride with Mezzo-Soprano Jamie Barton

The cancellations decimated her calendar. Suddenly there were no concerts. No operas. No in-person engagements at all through the end of August. The coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent need for social isolation, had claimed them all.

May 27, 2020

Profile: Gaetano Maria Donizetti

Born on November 29, 1797 in Bergamo and baptized Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti, the future composer was the fifth of six siblings. In 1806, Donizetti was admitted to the music school in Bergamo. There, he was guided by Giovanni Simone Mayr, the distinguished Bavarian composer famous for his operas throughout Italy.

May 19, 2020

Director Leonard Foglia on Moby-Dick

Hear from Moby-Dick director Leonard Foglia as he shares how Moby-Dick came to be and provides insight into the creative process.

May 19, 2020

From Page to Stage: An Interview with Moby-Dick Librettist Gene Scheer

The challenge of turning Moby-Dick, one of the great classics of the English language, into an opera would have struck most librettists as Herculean. But for Gene Scheer, the effort was decidedly more Shakespearean.

May 15, 2020

Transformation in Song and Ink: How tattooing brought tenors Amitai and Pene Pati closer to home

The idea first crossed his mind when he was 7. It was hard not to notice the massive tattoos that his uncle and other family members wore, darkening the skin from their waist down to their knees.

May 15, 2020

The Soundtrack of Togetherness

My life is loud. Most years I spend several months in the San Francisco Opera pit and the rest of my time managing a family of four. When my boys are in school and I’m not rehearsing or practicing, I revel in the silence of an empty house.

May 1, 2020

Catch Up with 'Mephistopheles' Director Robert Carsen

As a child, Robert Carsen dreamed of being an actor — but soon he found himself drawn into a different world, one that lies beyond the curtains, hidden to average theater-goer. He had the instinct for directing. And as a result, opera theaters around the world now play host to his visions, from New York to Paris and beyond.

February 28, 2020 Ernani

Power and passion: Tenor Russell Thomas dishes on Verdi’s ‘Ernani’ and the future of opera

It all started at age eight, with a young boy twiddling the radio dial, fatefully landing on a station that played opera. That moment of discovery, of bliss, of clarity and direction, led tenor Russell Thomas to pursue a career on some of the world’s greatest opera stages, his voice — by turns soft and earth-trembling — winning him legions of fans.

Inside the mind of ‘Steve Jobs’ star Sasha Cooke

She didn’t need to audition. She was simply asked. That’s how Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke landed the role of Laurene Powell Jobs in the world premiere of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, itself a Grammy winner for Best Opera Recording.

February 1, 2020 The Handmaid's Tale

Where Opera Meets Illustration: An Interview with Shawna X

When announcing its 2020–21 Season, San Francisco Opera faced a dilemma: how to illustrate productions that were entirely new to the American stage.

That’s when we turned to visual artist Shawna X, whose illustrations brought splashes of color to the pages of The New Yorker and New York Magazine—not to mention her work for international brands like Adidas and Warby Parker.

December 18, 2019 The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs

Meet Mason Bates, the composer behind the turntable

There’s a degree of mystique surrounding the combination of unlike things — and composer Mason Bates’ fusion of classical music and electronica is no exception. It’s a recipe that’s won him acclaim and even a Grammy: His opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, nabbed the 2019 prize for best opera recording.

November 26, 2019 Hansel and Gretel

Meet San Francisco Opera’s original Gretel, Queena Mario

Of the five seasons Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel has been performed on the San Francisco Opera stage, three featured a familiar face: that of popular American opera singer Queena Mario.

October 28, 2019 Manon Lescaut


When director Olivier Tambosi’s production of Manon Lescaut first arrived in San Francisco in 2006, critics hailed it as “the best Puccini in years.” Now, 13 years later, the acclaimed production returns, with role debuts for two of opera’s most formidable stars: soprano Lianna Haroutounian and tenor Brian Jagde.

October 28, 2019 Hansel and Gretel


Fresh from his high-seas adventure this September in Billy Budd, tenor Robert Brubaker returns to the San Francisco Opera stage, starring this time as the cackling, Hitchcockian witch in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

September 25, 2019 Romeo & Juliet


Tuesday, October 1, marks not only the final performance of San Francisco Opera’s 2019 Romeo and Juliet but also an important role debut for a rising star: New Zealand soprano Amina Edris.

July 24, 2019 If I Were You

Jake Heggie debuts new work with Merola Opera Program

He’s a local talent renowned for bringing original work to San Francisco’s stages — and now he’s back with a brand-new work, tailor-made for the Merola Opera Program.

May 1, 2019 Carmen

From Basement Performances to Broadway, Francesca Zambello Traces Her Journey

For Carmen director Francesca Zambello, the key is to start small. That’s how she built her own career. Though her work now graces the stages of the West End and Broadway, her directorial debut took place in the humblest of venues — her parents’ basement.

April 3, 2019 Rusalka

SPOTLIGHT ON ‘Rusalka’ star Rachel Willis-Sørensen

As a child, Rusalka star Rachel Willis-Sørensen loved the Disney film The Little Mermaid. She loved it so much that she would sing along with the heroine Ariel, whose voice enraptures the human prince she hopes to marry.

March 1, 2019 Carmen

J’Nai Bridges Brings the Sizzle in Carmen Debut

J’Nai Bridges was at a crossroads. As a high-schooler, she juggled her passions as best as she could, but now university was beckoning, and she had a choice to make: Should she pursue her passion for basketball or her love of singing?

September 20, 2017

Hello, Karita.

Finnish soprano Karita Mattila will make her highly anticipated return to San Francisco Opera as Sieglinde in the Ring. Hailed by critics and audiences alike for her definitive style, Mattila is sure to deliver nuanced compassion layered in Sieglinde despite a life scarred with misfortune. Get to know the Finnish diva with three fascinating facts.

August 23, 2017

3 Things You May Not Know About Francesca Zambello

The intracies Ring Director Francesca Zambello weaves into her artistry stem from her varied artistic background and intriguing international upbringing. Here are three things you may not know about Director Francesca Zambello.

August 11, 2016

Looking Back: Working with David Gockley

Andrew Morgan has been with San Francisco Opera for over eight years and currently serves as Director of Individual and Leadership Giving. In today's blog post, he shares some of his fondest memories from David Gockley’s tenure with the Company.

July 27, 2016

Looking Back: My Favorite Operas of the Gockley Era

Kristen Jones has been with San Francisco Opera for nearly seven years. In today's blog post, she reflects on the productions of David Gockley's tenure that have stuck with her most. 

June 21, 2016

A Man with a Vision

San Francisco Opera dramaturg Kip Cranna reflects on the legacy and career of General Director David Gockley.

January 13, 2016

Adler Profile: Anthony Reed

Anthony Reed is a second-year Adler Fellow who appeared in The Magic Flute, Die Meistersinger, and The Fall of the House of Usher this past fall. Read on to learn what he compares his experience as an Adler Fellow to, his original pop music, and more.

December 17, 2015 The Barber of Seville

Singing Together

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack and her husband, tenor Alek Shrader, are enjoying enviable careers on the international operatic stage. They met while they were both participating in the Merola Opera program in 2007 and were married in 2011 after successful Adler Fellowships.  Now, after the birth of their baby daughter Evangelina in January, they are choosing to put their young family at the center of their professional decisions.

5 Questions with Brandon Jovanovich

Tenor Brandon Jovanovich can currently be seen as knight Walther von Stolzing in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. He first made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2007 as Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, and has been thrilling San Francisco Opera audiences ever since. Read on to learn about where he first got his love for singing, his favorite things to do in San Francisco, and more!

November 18, 2015 The Magic Flute

Adler Profile: Efraín Solís

Mexican-American baritone Efraín Solís is a second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who is currently appearing as Papageno in The Magic Flute. He made his Company debut in 2014 as Prince Yamadori (Madame Butterfly) and has appeared in our recent productions of A Masked Ball, Cinderella and Tosca. Read on to learn more about his backstage rituals, how we knew he wanted to be a performer and more.

November 16, 2015 The Magic Flute

Adler Profile: Nian Wang

Mezzo-soprano Nian Wang is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her Company debut as Ascanius in our summer 2015 production of Berlioz' The Trojans. Learn more about this brilliant young mezzo-soprano.

5 Questions With Andrea Silvestrelli

Italian bass Andrea Silvestrelli can be seen in three of our productions this fall: Luisa MillerDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and The Barber of Seville. He has been performing at San Francisco Opera since 1998, and consequently knows the city well. Read on to learn about Andrea's love of motorcycles, his struggle to find shoes, and more!

September 21, 2015 Sweeney Todd

5 Questions with Stephanie Blythe

Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe is back in San Francisco this September starring as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. She kindly gave us some insight into her Mrs. Lovett, her favorite things to do when she's not on stage, and what she will be doing once Sweeney Todd ends...

September 20, 2015 Sweeney Todd

5 Questions with Elliot Madore

Canadian baritone Elliot Madore made his San Francisco Opera debut this month as Anthony in Sweeney Todd. We were curious to find out what his dream roles are, and what profession he would pursue if he weren't a singer.

June 25, 2015

5 Questions with Phillippe Sly

Bass-baritone Philippe Sly finished his Adler fellowship this past December and returned to San Francisco this summer to play the title role The Marriage of Figaro.

June 15, 2015

Adler Profile: Edward Nelson

First year Adler Fellow Edward Nelson made his professional debut at San Francisco Opera this past weekend as Lieutenant John Buckley in the world premiere of Two Women.

April 29, 2015

Adler Profile: Zanda Svede

Second year Adler Fellow Zanda Švēde has graced the War Memorial stage countless times since she joined us last year. Originally from Latvia, Zanda has undoubtedly flourished during her time in San Francisco, and we can't wait to see her shine this Summer and Fall in our productions of La CiociaraLucia di Lammermoor, and The Magic Flute.

April 7, 2015

Adler Profile: Julie Adams

Julie Adams may be a first year Adler Fellow, but she is no stranger to San Francisco. Julie first came to SF for her undergraduate degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and never left, except to pursue further education at prestigious programs like Music Academy of the West and the International Vocal Arts Institute.

February 26, 2015

Adler Profile: Chong Wang

Chong Wang joins us as an Adler Fellow from Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China. Mr. Wang studied at the Conservatory of the People’s Liberation Party in China, and has performed numerous roles at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts...

February 25, 2015

5 Questions with Daniel Knapp

We're excited to welcome Daniel Knapp, our new Director of Production, to the San Francisco Opera family. We had the opportunity to sit down and ask him a few questions about his career in opera and his new home in San Francisco! Enjoy!

June 17, 2014

Earl & Alexis Return to SFO: Somthin' That the Angels Done Plan

It was cold in New York in February, 2008 when I flew into LaGuardia airport, but not too cold...

View More

Resources for the media including press releases, press kits and more.