San Francisco Opera

With the help of a wily barber, a strong-willed young woman outwits a lecherous old man in this eternally fresh comic masterpiece featuring Gioachino Rossini’s witty and charming score. Giuseppe Finzi conducts. Saturday, September 20, 1 to 4:15 pm.

This week it's Arrigo Boito’s resplendent retelling of Goethe’s Faust, a monumental work of "choral grandeur and melodic richness" (The New York Times) recorded live at the famous War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco in 2013.

Tune in for a treat on Saturday, October 26 at 1 pm. Tenor Luciano Pavarotti sings Rodolfo in a San Francisco Opera archival production of Giuseppe Verdi's Luisa Miller. Conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Recorded Fall 1974, War Memorial Opera House.

Synopsis and interview with Luciano Pavarotti

Cory Weaver

A sensitive poet searches for love, and repeatedly finds it lies just beyond his reach in this marvelously melodic masterpiece. Singing the title role is tenor Matthew Polenzani, who was praised by The New York Times as "coming into his prime...singing with increasing ardor, richness and power."

The prayers of a desperate woman are answered in the form of a noble warrior in Richard Wagner's most accessible opera, which contrasts the lust for power with the search for faith. The title role is sung by Brandon Jovanovich, "a first-rate Wagner tenor" (San Francisco Chronicle) who was an electrifying Siegmund in Die Walküre (2011). As his doubt-plagued bride, soprano Camilla Nylund "evokes an affecting degree of dreamy distance in Elsa's account of her mysterious savior" (Gramophone).

Two young soldiers disguise their identities to test their lovers' fidelity in this Mozart masterpiece, a sublime and sometimes startling mix of hilarious farce and poignant drama first performed in 1790.

"Achingly beautiful" is how the Associated Press describes San Francisco Opera's production of Moby-Dick. Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer adapt Herman Melville's meditation on man and the sea into "...a vibrant, compelling piece of musical theater..." (San Francisco Chronicle).

The tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet inspired some of Shakespeare's finest verse—and some of Bellini's most beautiful melodies. "An opera of definite dramatic appeal" (The New York Times) awash in "music of extraordinary grace" (All Music Guide), this bel canto masterpiece features international stars Joyce DiDonato, a singer of "glamour, charisma, intelligence, grace and remarkable talent," and Nicole Cabell, who "wields her radiant lyric soprano like a silken lasso" (The New York Times).

A wounded deity comes to realize the limits of his power in the heartbreaking second installment of the cycle. Wotan, king of the gods, strives to undo the curse of the ring by fathering a pure-of-heart hero by a mortal woman. But he finds himself torn as events spin out of control and his offspring defy his will. Wotan’s deeply loving but disobedient daughter is sung by soprano Nina Stemme, who makes her cycle debut.

The ruler of the Huns fully intends to invade fifth-century Italy until a fierce female captive enchants him with her valiant defiance. In the popular imagination, Attila the Hun was a ruthless barbarian. But to Giuseppe Verdi, he was a far more complex and compelling figure: a brave, ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts. The intense, conflicted anti-hero comes vividly alive in this “vibrant and engrossing musical drama” (The New York Times).