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SFO Streaming the First Century

Streaming the First Century

Session 2: Excerpts

For a definition of “light coloratura soprano,” listen to Bidú Sayão in these excerpts from Manon. Her delicate voice is at once supple and taut, the vibrato never interfering with fine articulation. Exquisite is the word. The Manon she sang in San Francisco in 1939 marked her company debut, the start of a relationship lasting until 1953 and encompassing 61 engagements.
Larry Rothe (on Manon, 1939)

American Titans Beverly Sills and Sherill Milnes in this all too infrequently performed masterpiece is what great nights at the opera are made of. Here you have them both at the height of their vocal powers with Sills’ dramatic prowess coming straight through your speakers.
Kenneth Overton (on Thaïs, 1976)


Manon, 1939 (Jules Massenet)




Broadcast (10/15/1939)
4 excerpts: total run time ~ 8 minutes

This historic broadcast preserves the exquisite artistry of two all-time favorites from the Company’s annals, Italian tenor Tito Schipa and Brazilian soprano Bidú Sayão.

Les Troyens, 1966 (Hector Berlioz)




Audience recording (November)
5 excerpts: total run time ~ 8 minutes

Berlioz’s epic roars into the Company’s repertory with two iconic interpreters at its heart: French soprano Régine Crespin as both Cassandre and Didon and Canadian tenor Jon Vickers as Aeneas.

Thaïs, 1976 (Jules Massenet)




Broadcast (09/10/1976)

4 excerpts: total run time ~ 9 minutes
Nearly a decade before his appointment as Music Director, Sir John Pritchard led the Company premiere of Massenet’s Thaïs with the operatic star power of Beverly Sills in the title role and Sherrill Milnes as Athanaël.

Saint François d'Assise, 2002 (Olivier Messiaen)




House recording (October)
5 excerpts: total run time ~ 10 minutes
The U.S. premiere of Messiaen’s only opera was a marquee event in Company history, led by then-Music Director Sir Donald Runnicles and starring Sir Willard White in the title role of St. Francis of Assisi, San Francisco’s namesake.