Sunday, September 30, 2018

SFO to Present a New Staging of Romantic Strauss

A little over a week ago it was reported that, this coming Wednesday, San Francisco Opera will present a new staging of an opera with a long and proud history in the company repertoire, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. About two week’s later the War Memorial Auditorium will host another new staging, this time drawn from the prodigious operatic catalog of Richard Strauss. Arabella, last seen here during the 1998–99 season, will return in a new production shared with the Santa Fe Opera, the Minnesota Opera, and the Canadian Opera Company.

If Der Rosenkavalier amounts to a bittersweet comedy about the rise of the bourgeoisie in the face of aristocratic decline, Arabella is a romantic comedy of errors about a bourgeois family having trouble making ends meet. The family patriarch Count Waldner (baritone Richard Paul Fink) still has a title but little else. His only hope for economic security involves marrying his older daughter Arabella (soprano Ellie Dehn) to a man of secure means. To keep suitors focused on Arabella, he has forced his other daughter Zdenka (soprano Heidi Stober) to disguise herself as a boy.

Arabella, on the other hand, is determined that she will only marry “the right one,” even if she is not yet sure who that will be. He turns out to be Mandryka (baritone Brian Mulligan), a young man from the country who turns out to be sensibly generous. While Arabella and Mandryka quickly appreciate each other’s qualities, this would not be a comedy without their having to overcome several farcical obstacles.

Conductor Marc Albrecht, making his American operatic debut (photograph by Marco Borggreve, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera)

In this new production just about every role (including those cited above) will be performed by its respective vocalist for the first time. This will also be true of Director Tim Albery, who is responsible for the new staging. In addition conductor Marc Albrecht, currently Chief Conductor of the Dutch National Opera, will be making his American operatic debut.

Arabella will be given five performances, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on October 16, 19, and 24 and on November 3 and at 2 p.m. on October 28. The libretto will be sung in German with English supertitles. The approximate running time will be three hours and fifteen minutes with two intermissions.

The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. Single tickets are priced from $26 to $398. Tickets may be purchased online through an event page on the SFO Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in the outer lobby of the Opera House. The Box Office may also be reached by telephoning 415-864-3330. Standing room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance. They are sold for $10, cash only.

Arabella will also be the topic of the first Insight Panel of the season. SFO Dramaturg Clifford Cranna will moderate a panel whose members will include vocalists Dehn, Stober, and Mulligan. This event will take place in the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House. It will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 13. Like the other events in this series, the discussion will be free to Opera Guild members, SFO subscribers, and students. General admission for others is $5. An Eventbrite event page has been created for preregistration, including for those to be admitted without charge.

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