Performers and audience at last year’s Opera in the Park (photograph by Stefan Cohen, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera)
Next weekend will see the first two performances of the 96th season of the San Francisco Opera (SFO) with the opening of the double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” (often known as Cav/Pag) on Friday, September 7, and the opening of Gaetano Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux on Saturday, September 8. The weekend will then conclude on Sunday afternoon with the annual free San Francisco Chronicle Presents Opera in the Park concert. Once again SFO General Director Matthew Shilvock will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
As was the case last year, the program will feature performers from the first three operas of the season. This year, however, there will be three conductors, each associated with one of the operas. These will be Daniele Callegari (Cav/Pag), Riccardo Frizza (Roberto Devereux), and Leo Hussain (Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca). Vocalists from two of these productions will be featured. Soprano Liana Haroutounian, mezzo Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Marco Berti, and baritone Dimitri Platanias will all be singing in Cav/Pag; and Tosca cast members will include soprano Carmen Giannattasio, making her SFO debut, tenor Brian Jagde, and bass-baritone Christian Pursell. Other participating artists will include sopranos Sarah Cambidge and Toni Marie Palmertree, mezzo Ashley Dixon, and tenor Pene Pati.
The performance will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 9. The venue will be the shell at the west end of Robin Williams Meadow (formerly known as Sharon Meadow) in Golden Gate Park. This is easily accessible from the Muni bus stop for the de Young museum. Because the event is free, no tickets are required. Food and beverages will be available for sale, but attendees are welcome to bring their own fixings for a picnic. Those who wish further information are welcome to call 415-864-3330.