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San Francisco Opera Presents New Co-Commission El último sueño de Frida y Diego at the War Memorial Opera House, June 13–30

Scenes from El último sueño de Frida y Diego. Photos: Karli Cadel/San Diego Opera
Scenes from El último sueño de Frida y Diego with Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo,
Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera and Yaritza Véliz as Catrina. Photos: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

Local Premiere of Bay Area Composer Gabriela Lena Frank’s First Opera
with Libretto by Nilo Cruz in Production by Director Lorena Maza and Conducted by Roberto Kalb

Daniela Mack and Alfredo Daza Star as the Iconic Twentieth-Century Artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Frida y diego.pdf  Frida y diego Espanol version.pdf   Photos

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 27; updated June 13, 2023) — San Francisco Opera presents the Bay Area premiere of El último sueño de Frida y Diego (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego) June 13–30 at the War Memorial Opera House. The new opera by Bay Area composer Gabriela Lena Frank with librettist and frequent collaborator Nilo Cruz is a San Francisco Opera co-commission and the Company’s first Spanish-language opera (the performances will feature English and Spanish supertitles). Coinciding with the performances are a series of community celebrations and events.

The opera takes place in 1957 on El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), three years after the death of visionary painter Frida Kahlo. The last wish of her lonely husband, famed muralist Diego Rivera, is to see Frida again and the underworld answers his call. The two artists enjoy one last opportunity at reunion, reconciliation and release from the pain of longing.

El último sueño de Frida y Diego had its world premiere with San Diego Opera in October 2022 and comes to the War Memorial Opera House stage in the original co-production by Mexican director Lorena Maza featuring the creative team of set designer Jorge Ballina, costume designer Eloise Kazan and lighting designer Victor Zapatero. Detroit Opera Music Director Roberto Kalb, who led the premiere performances in San Diego, takes to the podium in his Company debut. The opera is a co-commission between San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Fort Worth Opera, DePauw University, School of Music and with support from the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts.

Gabriela Lena Frank’s music is regularly featured by the nation’s leading ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. She is Composer in Residence of the Philadelphia Orchestra and has created new works for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw and conductors Marin Alsop and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. As the founder of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music for emerging music-makers in Northern California, Frank is a mentor to composers and creatives from around the world. El último sueño de Frida y Diego is her first opera.

Playwright Nilo Cruz is renowned for his stage works including his 2003 Pulitzer Prize- winning play, Anna in the Tropics. Increasingly Cruz’s musical collaborations with composers, including Gabriela Lena Frank and Jimmy Lopez, have earned critical and popular acclaim.

Argentine mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack portrays Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who found in death the peace she never knew in life—until she is offered the opportunity to return to life for one day on El Día de los Muertos. A former Merola Opera Program participant and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Mack made her Company debut as Lucienne in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt in 2008 followed by Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Rosmira in Handel’s Partenope and, in three different seasons, Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia including the Company’s return from the pandemic shutdown in drive-in performances at the Marin Center. For her recent performances in Rossini’s Otello in Philadelphia, Parterre said, “whether in florid work (always cleanly articulated but also bound into a legato phrase) or cantilena, the voice pours out like molten gold. We are fortunate to live in a time of sensational mezzos, and Mack is in the top tier.”

Daniela Mack will be featured in San Francisco Opera’s Webby Award-winning video portrait series, In Song­; filmed on location in Buenos Aires, the new episode will be released in June 2023.

Mexican baritone Alfredo Daza, creator of the role of famed muralist Diego Rivera in the world premiere of Frank and Cruz’s opera last October, returns to San Francisco Opera where, like Daniela Mack, he began as an Adler Fellow (Daza in 1998; Mack in 2008, 2009). The San Diego Union Tribune hailed Daza’s “soulful restraint” in performing Frank’s music for Diego which was described as “deep and mournful, reflecting the artist’s regrets over his cruelty.”

Chilean soprano Yaritza Véliz makes her house debut as Catrina, the Keeper of the Dead, and American countertenor Jake Ingbar is the young actor, Leonardo, who briefly returns to the world of the living in the guise of actress Greta Garbo. The cast also includes Mikayla Sager, Gabrielle Beteag, Nikola Printz, Moisés Salazar and Ricardo Lugo. The artists of the San Francisco Opera Chorus are prepared by Chorus Director John Keene and the production includes choreography by Colm Seery.

Sung in Spanish with English and Spanish supertitles, the five performances of El último sueño de Frida y Diego are scheduled for June 13 (7:30 p.m.), 17 (7:30 p.m.), 22 (7:30 p.m.), 25 (2 p.m.) and 30 (7:30 p.m.), 2023.



The Thursday, June 22 performance of Gabriela Lena Frank and Nilo Cruz’s El último sueño de Frida y Diego will be streamed live at 7:30 p.m. PT. The performance will be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Friday, June 23 at 10 a.m. PT. Livestream tickets are $27.50. For more information, visit sfopera.com/digital/Livestream.



San Francisco Opera’s El último sueño de Frida y Diego scholar in residence Jessica Bejarano, founder and conductor of the San Francisco Philharmonic, presents a Pre-Opera Talk prior to each performance inside the theater. Beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain, the 25-minute Pre-Opera Talks are open to ticket holders for the corresponding performance.


Join a pre-show community celebration in the courtyard next to the War Memorial Opera House featuring Mexican dishes (all under $10, catered by Global Gourmet), dance performances by Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí, and a community altar built in partnership with the Marigold Project. All are invited to bring ofrenda (photos, letters, mementos, etc.) to place at the community altar.

Pre-Performance Community Celebrations
June 13, 17, 22, 30, 5:30–7 p.m.
June 25, 12-1:30 p.m.
War Memorial Opera House Courtyard
301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

Prior to 7:30 p.m. performance of El último sueño de Frida y Diego on June 13, 17, 22, 30:

5:30 p.m. – Altar Ceremony 
6 p.m. – Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí performance
6:45 p.m. – Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí performance

Prior to 2 p.m. performance of El último sueño de Frida y Diego on June 25:

12:00pm – Altar Ceremony 
12:30pm – Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí performance
1:15pm – Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí performance

The pre-performance community celebrations are free and open to the public. For more information, visit sfopera.com/frida.


Post-Show Talkbacks
June 17, 22, 25 (beginning 15 minutes after curtain)
War Memorial Opera House, Lower Lounge
301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

40-minute talkbacks moderated by Jessica Bejarano (San Francisco Opera’s El último sueño de Frida y Diego scholar in residence and founder/conductor of the San Francisco Philharmonic) and Cole Thomason-Redus (San Francisco Opera Educational Content Curator). Participants are subject to change.

June 17—composer Gabriela Lena Frank and librettist Nilo Cruz

June 22—conductor Roberto Kalb and tenor Moisés Salazar

June 25—composer Gabriela Lena Frank

Free/open to those attending the June 17, 22, 25 El último sueño de Frida y Diego performances.


Pride Night At The Opera—El último sueño de Frida y Diego
Thursday, June 22 (from 5:30–7 p.m. pre-show and during intermission)
War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102

Join a night celebrating LGBTQ+ identity and creativity. Visit the courtyard next to the Opera House and bring ofrendas (photos, letters, mementos, etc.) to honor LGBTQ+ ancestors at the community altar and enjoy performances by Mexican LGBTQ+ folklore dance group Ensamble Folclórico Colibrí.

During the performance intermission, compete for a prize in the Frida/Diego drag contest at the Loggia; snap photos in our Pride-theme photo booth and discover the history of the Opera House as a safe space in a mini-exhibit of essay and artifacts curated in partnership with the GLBT Historical Society.

Pre-show courtyard activities are free and open to the public; for more information, visit sfopera.com/frida.

June 22 performance tickets include Pride Night at the Opera activities in the Opera House. For more information, visit sfopera.com/pride.


El último sueño de Frida y Diego: Iconic Artists For Fashion, Art And Opera
Monday, June 26, 5:30 p.m.. program and 6:30 p.m. reception
Commonwealth Club, Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

Artists Frida Kahlo and Diego River are icons of Mexican art and culture. This Commonwealth Club panel, featuring composer Gabriela Lena Frank, costume designer Eloise Kazan and local artist/designer Arleene Correa Valencia and moderated by San Francisco Philharmonic founder and Music Director Jessica Bejarano, will focus on the ongoing impact of Kahlo and Rivera’s artistry, fashion and lifestyles.

Tickets are $20 (in person) and $10 (online) at commonwealthclub.org; pre-register to receive a link to the livestream program.

*For the complete press release, including cast and calendar, open the PDF version above.