SF Opera Launches New Season With Lavish Opening Night

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The 2015 Opera Ball
The 2015 Opera Ball

Photo Credit: Drew Atlizer

This week is going to be a busy one for San Francisco’s swans. Not only does the Symphony Gala kick start the 2016 high season, but just two days later, on Friday, September 9, the San Francisco Opera and Opera Guild host the 2016 Opera Ball. The ball is in honor of the opening night of the Opera’s 94th season—the gala event will benefit the Company’s out reach and education programs. The evening promises to be a festive one with a performance of Umberto Giodano’s French Revolution opera Andrea Chénier. The four-act opera tells the story of a French poet, Andrea Chénier, who falls in love with a countess’s daughter, Maddalena, on the eve of the French Revolution. The poet is condemned to death and his beloved trades places with a noblewoman who also awaits the guillotine. As the final act closes, the lovers face death together as one. The performance features three international debuts of critically acclaimed singers: South Korean tenor Yonghoon Lee will sing the lead role, Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi will play Maddalena, and Georgian baritone George Gagnidze captures a supporting role as Carlo Gérard. Nicola Luisotti, Company music director since 2009, will lead the orchestra while director David McVicar overseas what is happening on the stage.

Atmosphere at last year's ball
Atmosphere at last year’s ball

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The splendor of France’s Ancien Régime will inspire the evening’s celebration. Famed designer J. Riccardo Benavides will create the elegant and sophisticated Parisian-inspired atmosphere in which Opera goers will revel. The entire event takes place within the War Memorial Opera House, the Veterans Building, and a magnificent tented pavilion located between the two historic buildings. The evening begins with a chic cocktail reception on the Opera House south porte-cochére. From there, guests are invited into the tent for a dinner crafted by Josip Martinovic of McCalls Catering and Events. The three-hour performance begins at 8 p.m. and a post-show celebration with dancing and a buffet of elaborate sweets and savories concludes the extravaganza.

Allan Morrell, Charlot Malin and Kip Cranna
Allan Morrell, Charlot Malin and Kip Cranna

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

According to the SF Opera Guild’s president, Charlot Malin, “This year’s Opera Ball is more special than ever because it launches Matthew Shilvock’s first season as San Francisco Opera’s General Director. Matthew’s youthful spirit, high energy and inclusiveness have served to connect the Opera more closely with the broader community. Thus far, he has been a wonderful partner to the Opera Guild. We continue to be blessed with so many wonderful colleagues and friends in the Bay Area who give so much to Opera Guild events. This enduring friendship is so meaningful as we continue each year to maintain our outstanding education programs.” The event is made possible by a handful of generous sponsors including society grand dame, Dede Wilsey, Ann and Gordon Getty, and our very own haute ambassador, Olivia Hsu Decker—stay tuned for her account of the lavish opening.

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