San Francisco Opera Presents New Production of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, November 11-December 3
Music Director Eun Sun Kim Leads the First of Her Series of Verdi Titles in New Production Directed by Shawna Lucey
Cast Features Three Major House Debuts: Pretty Yende, Jonathan Tetelman, Simone Piazzola
Register Now for November 11 Free Opera at the Ballpark at Oracle Park
Virtual Tickets for November 16 Livestream on Sale Now
The Traviata Encounter Immersive Event on November 19
Tickets Available at sfopera.com and (415) 864-3330
San Francisco, CA (October 13, 2022) — San Francisco Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata conducted by Caroline H. Hume Music Director Eun Sun Kim in a new staging by director Shawna Lucey. This new vision of a beloved classic, the first new production of La Traviata to be built by the Company in 35 years, will open on November 11 simultaneously at the War Memorial Opera House and on the videoboard at Oracle Park in a free Opera at the Ballpark simulcast. The international cast is headed by three stars making their Company debuts: South African soprano Pretty Yende, Chilean American tenor Jonathan Tetelman and Italian baritone Simone Piazzola.
Since its 1853 premiere, Verdi’s La Traviata has won the hearts of generations of music lovers for its deep emotional resonance and memorable music. With highlights like Violetta’s showstopping Act I aria, “Sempre libera,” and the tender strings of the opera’s prelude, La Traviata remains one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. The story follows the Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry whose love affair with Alfredo Germont leads to devastating consequences when Alfredo’s father intervenes.
Director Shawna Lucey said: “Verdi's masterpiece about one of the most incredible women in history lives at the intersection of sex and money. Marie Duplessis, or Violetta as she is known in the opera, through her own ingenuity and tenacity has become Paris' most famous courtesan. When real love sweeps her away, she becomes the victim of the oppressive societal rules she thought she had conquered. Violetta lives her life on display, with no privacy afforded her. In our gorgeous new production set in late 19th-century Paris, the joy and tragedy of history's most famous courtesan shines in every element."
Lucey, who was recently appointed general director of Opera San José, reunites with production designer Robert Innes Hopkins and lighting designer Michael Clark, her collaborators for San Francisco Opera’s 2018 production of Puccini’s Tosca, and is joined by choreographer John Heginbotham.
Music Director Eun Sun Kim previously collaborated with Lucey to present Tosca in August 2021 for the Company’s return to the Opera House stage from the pandemic shutdown. To open the Company’s 100th season this past September, Kim led two opening weekend concerts and the acclaimed world-premiere performances of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra. She is on the podium this month for Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. La Traviata marks the beginning of Kim’s survey of Verdi operas in future seasons. The series, inaugurated with an all-Verdi concert last June, led the San Francisco Chronicle to observe: “Kim created a brisk, robust template that left room for tenderness and expressive flexibility.”
Pretty Yende makes her long-awaited San Francisco Opera debut as Violetta. A renowned bel canto interpreter who has won extensive praise in the florid works of Donizetti, Rossini and Bellini, Yende added Verdi’s heroine to her repertoire in “a magical performance” (Opera News) at the Paris Opera in 2019. Following triumphs with the role in Barcelona, Palermo, Vienna, Hamburg, London and Naples, she brings her celebrated Violetta to an American stage for the first time.
The soprano, who is an exclusive Sony Classical recording artist, will be featured in the next episode of San Francisco Opera’s video portrait series, In Song. Scheduled for release later this month, In Song: Pretty Yende was filmed on location in her native South Africa.
Steeped in the Italian repertoire, Jonathan Tetelman has won wide acclaim in rarities like Zandonai’s Francesca da Rimini and Verdi’s Stiffelio along with roles in La Bohème, Rigoletto, Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana. Following his appearances as a last-minute cast change at the Tanglewood Festival and with the Berkshire Opera Festival, the New York Times proclaimed, “The guy’s a total star.” Tetelman, who records exclusively for the Deutsche Grammophon label, makes his West Coast operatic stage debut with San Francisco Opera as Alfredo.
Simone Piazzola was scheduled to appear with San Francisco Opera in Ernani before the pandemic and now makes his belated Company debut as Giorgio Germont. Piazzola is known for his moving portrayals in many of Verdi’s works, including Rigoletto, Un Ballo in Maschera, Attila and La Forza del Destino. His Germont in La Traviata was hailed by Arts Beat LA as “displaying a true baritone with an intensity of tone that appears to be very well suited to the big Verdi roles. He is an artist to watch.”
Completing the cast are Taylor Raven as Flora Bervoix, Adam Lau as Dr. Grenvil, current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows Timothy Murray (Marchese d’Obigny), Edward Graves (Gastone) and Elisa Sunshine (Annina), Michael Jankosky (Giuseppe), William Bryan (a Messenger) and Andrew Pardini (Flora’s Servant).
La Traviata entered San Francisco Opera’s repertory on the final night of the Company’s second season in 1924. On that occasion, San Francisco Opera founder Gaetano Merola conducted a cast of operatic legends: prima donna Claudia Muzio, tenor Tito Schipa and baritone Giuseppe De Luca. Throughout the Company’s first century, La Traviata has been presented with leading artists and is among the top five most performed operas in San Francisco Opera history. Following Muzio, the long line of Violettas who have performed with the Company includes Licia Albanese, Leyla Gencer, Anna Moffo, Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, Patricia Racette and Ailyn Pérez.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the eight performances of La Traviata are scheduled for November 11 (7:30 p.m.), 13 (2 p.m.), 16 (7:30 p.m.), 22 (7:30 p.m.), 25 (7:30 p.m.), 27 (2 p.m.), 30 (7:30 p.m.); December 3 (7:30 p.m.), 2022.
OPERA AT THE BALLPARK: Free Simulcast of La Traviata, Friday, November 11
Enjoy Verdi’s immortal masterwork and witness the Company debuts of three opera stars for free, all while enjoying ballpark concessions under the stars. On Friday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m., just as Eun Sun Kim gives the down beat and the curtain rises for the first time on director Shawna Lucey’s new production of La Traviata at the Opera House, audiences on the field and in the stands at Oracle Park, the picturesque home of the San Francisco Giants, will share in the opening night excitement.
In partnership with the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco Opera presents Opera at the Ballpark, the popular Bay Area live music event that brings San Francisco Opera performances to Oracle Park’s stunning 71-foot-high x 153-foot-wide, 4K videoboard for free. Since 2007, Opera at the Ballpark has attracted more than 300,000 attendees.
Registration is recommended but not required. For more information about this free community event visit sfopera.com/ballpark.
LIVESTREAM: La Traviata, Wednesday, November 16
San Francisco Opera offers livestreams for each of its 2022–23 productions so audiences around the world can experience the Company’s Centennial Season. The Wednesday, November 16 performance of La Traviata will be livestreamed at 7:30 p.m. PT. The performance will also be available to watch on demand for 48 hours beginning on Thursday, November 17 at 10 a.m. PT. Virtual tickets for the livestream and limited on-demand viewing are $27.50 For tickets or more information about livestreams, visit sfopera.com/digital.
THE TRAVIATA ENCOUNTER, Saturday, November 19
The Traviata Encounter, a one-night-only event, offers attendees the opportunity to experience Eun Sun Kim leading the internationally renowned cast in the first act of La Traviata and then enjoy an immersive evening in the transformed lobbies of the Opera House. Created in collaboration with Shawna Lucey and the La Traviata creative team, the encounter draws inspiration from the opera itself, inviting guests into Violetta’s world. Burlesque performers, a gambling room, special food and drink offerings, dancing and selfie-worthy moments will complete the encounter. Recommended for audiences ages 21 and over. Tickets range from $39–$189. For more information, visit sfopera.com/encounter.
SAN FRANCISCO OPERA GUILD OPERA PREVIEW: LA TRAVIATA
San Francisco Opera Guild presents an Opera Preview on La Traviata by lecturer and San Francisco Opera Dramaturg Emeritus Dr. Clifford “Kip” Cranna. The 90-minute preview provides in-depth insights into the opera’s history, composer, story and music.
San Francisco Chapter
Wednesday, November 9 at 6 p.m., Zoom Webinar
General Admission: $10. Register at Eventbrite.
For more information about Opera Previews, visit sfopera.com/operapreviews.