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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. Photos: Karli Cadel/San Diego 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, 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).

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 composed 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 this summer.

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 they 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, Nikola Printz, Gabrielle Beteag, 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.

June 5–8 at locations throughout the Bay Area, San Francisco Opera Guild presents a series of Opera Previews on El último sueño de Frida y Diego by scholar Lucy Caplan. Each 90-minute lecture provides in-depth insight into the opera’s history, composer, story and music. For more information, visit sfopera.com/operapreviews.

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