Heroines and divas have always been an essential component of opera's firmament, but San Francisco Opera's 92nd season, opening Friday, is unusual.
Five of the fall season's seven titles are names of heroines: Bellini's “Norma,” Floyd's “Susannah,” Handel's “Partenope,” Puccini's “Tosca” and Rossini's “La Cenerentola” (“Cinderella”). The other two — with famed heroines, but not in the title — are Verdi's “A Masked Ball” and Puccini's “La Bohème.”
Noting how diverse the season’s iconic roles are – requiring “women who are unique, exceptional singers and gifted actresses” – Greg Henkel, the opera’s director of artistic and music planning, says, “I personally am very pleased to be presenting so many of today’s generation of leading ladies on our stage.”
Those leading ladies include Sondra Radvanovsky as Norma, Patricia Racette as Susannah, Danielle de Niese as Partenope, Lianna Haroutounian as Tosca, Karine Deshayes as Cinderella, Julianna Di Giacomo (replacing Krassimira Stoyanova) as Amelia and Heidi Stober as Oscar in “A Masked Ball”; and Alexia Voulgaridou and (Merolina/Adler Fellow) Leah Crocetto alternating as Mimi in La bohème.
SFO General Director David Gockley is particularly happy with the lineup and constellation of talent, pointing with pride to the engagement of Radvanovsky, who triumphed in the role at the Met last year – her first “Norma” – in a new production designed by David Korins.
The opposite is the case with SFO’s “Tosca.” The opera has been a staple in San Francisco since its 1932 opening, and the same three or four productions have been running for decades.
Of course, the season also boasts promiment men, with stars such as Brandon Jovanovich as Sam Polk in “Susannah,” Ramon Vargas as the king in “A Masked Ball,” David Daniels, the world's preeminent countertenor, as Arsace in “Partenope,” Mark Delavan as Scarpia in “Tosca” as well as talented young singers from San Francisco’s Adler Program.
IF YOU GO
San Francisco Opera 2014 Fall Season
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: Friday through Dec. 2
Tickets: $25 to $370 for single tickets
Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com
“Norma” – Friday through Sept. 5-30
“Susannah” – Saturday through Sept 21
“A Masked Ball” – Oct. 4-22
“Partenope” – Oct. 15-Nov. 2
“Tosca” – Oct. 23-Nov. 8
“La Cenerentola” – (Rossini) – Nov. 9-26
“La Boheme” – Nov. 14-Dec. 2