San Francisco Opera opens the second of its three Summer 2014 productions on June 11 – Verdi’s passionate and tragic La Traviata. Based on a French play, La dame aux Camélias, by Alexandre Dumas (the younger) – which in turn was an adaptation of Dumas’ 1848 novel of the same name – La Traviata, with an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, was premiered at Teatro La Fenice in Venice on March 6, 1853.
For this San Francisco Opera production, two sensational casts will take the leading roles. In the June performances, the tragic heroine, Violetta Valéry, will be sung by soprano Nicole Cabell – winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition – and described by Chicago Magazine as “one of the most exciting lyric sopranos to grace the world’s concert halls”.
Taking the role of her lover, Alfredo Germont – for four of these performances – is Albanian tenor, Saimir Pirgu. Regarded as one of the fastest-rising artists on the operatic and concert stage, Mr Pirgu was written of in The Philadelphia Inquirer as “a major talent, with a boyishly light voice and a statuesque presence”.
Bulgarian baritone, Vladimir Stoyanov, makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont – a role with which he has already won acclaim in performances at Teatro La Fenice, and at major European opera companies such as Naples, Florence, Parma, Milan, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Madrid.
For the July performances, the lovers are portrayed by Ailyn Pérez and Stephen Costello. Off-stage husband and wife, Miss Pérez and Mr Costello – winners of the prestigious Richard Tucker Award – are frequent co-stars, whose appearances in La Traviata this season include performances for the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Hamburg’s Saxon State Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin. Miss Pérez – in demand at the world’s leading opera houses – has been described by The New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” and “a major soprano”, whilst – according to the UK’s Daily Express – Mr Costello “has risen rapidly to claim a place among the world’s best tenors”. He will also appear as Alfredo in the performances on June 17 and 20.
Hawaiian baritone, Quinn Kelsey, returns to San Francisco Opera in July as Giorgio Germont, a role he has also performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago, at the Seoul Arts Center, and in which he will appear at Zurich Opera next season.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles, San Francisco Opera’s sumptuous and classic production was conceived by John Copley, designed by John Conklin and is directed by Laurie Feldman. Costumes are by David Walker, and choreography by Bay Area flamenco authority, Yaelisa.
The June performances will be conducted by San Francisco Opera Music Director, Nicola Luisotti, and Resident Conductor, Giuseppe Finzi, will lead the performances in July. All performances feature the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Director Ian Robertson).
La Traviata runs at the War Memorial Opera House from June 11 to July 13, in repertory with Show Boat (running to July 2) and Madame Butterfly (June 15 to July 9).
The July 5 performance of La Traviata will be simulcast live to AT&T Park for the Company’s eighth free Opera at the Ballpark.
For further information on performances and tickets, please visit the San Francisco Opera website.