San Francisco Opera Returns to KQED with Four Spectacular Operas in High-Definition

Contact: Siouxsie Oki, Manager, External Affairs and Arts, soki@kqed.org, 415.553.2435

The series, hosted by Frederica von Stade, will air Thursdays primetime on KQED 9 starting September 4.

Fifth season includes Mefistofele, one of the most impressive productions ever seen at the War Memorial Opera House.

This September, KQED and San Francisco Opera will once again bring the glory of grand opera to the living rooms of the Bay Area. Recorded in beautiful high-definition and in 5.1 surround sound at the War Memorial Opera House, the television specials showcase the imaginative stagings and all-star casts from San Francisco Opera’s recent productions of I Capuleti e i Montecchi,the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet accompanied by some of Bellini’s most beautiful melodies; Verdi’s Attila, a complex look at an ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts; Mefistofele, Boito’s resplendent retelling of Goethe’s Faust; and Verdi’s Rigoletto about a vengeful court jester, desperately trying to protect his daughter from disaster.

Hosted by celebrated mezzo-soprano Frederica “Flicka” von Stade, the operas will premiere Thursdays, September 4 through October 2, on KQED 9. San Francisco Opera’s Porgy and Bess, which was part of the last season of the series, will be rebroadcast as part of the PBS Fall Arts Festival on October 17.

Each opera is presented in its original language with English subtitles and features the acclaimed San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra.

“We are proud to partner with the San Francisco Opera to showcase these world class performances on KQED and make it possible for more people enjoy the best in performing arts,” says Michael Isip, KQED Senior Vice President and Chief Content Officer. “The arts are a key focus for KQED and we are committed to providing our community with opportunities to discover, explore and experience the abundance and diversity of the Bay Area’s arts scene on television, radio and online.”

San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley commented, “KQED Public Television is recognized as one of the nation’s leading presenters of arts programming and I’m very pleased that San Francisco Opera will return this fall for its fifth season, particularly with such an extraordinary repertoire and roster of singing stars.  Our media initiatives continue to be of paramount importance as we continually look for opportunities to ‘blow open the walls’ of the War Memorial Opera House and let audiences engage with opera in places and ways that work best for them. There’s no question that our association with KQED is the right way to go and I anticipate the public will be the true beneficiary of our efforts.”

Support for opera on KQED is provided by a generous gift from Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem.

San Francisco Opera’s fifth season features:

I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues) – Vincenzo Bellini
Thursday, September 4, at 8pm on KQED 9
Bellini’s bel canto masterpiece I Capuleti e i Montecchi, inspired by the tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet, is what The New York Times calls “an opera of definite dramatic appeal.” The cast is headlined by international stars Joyce DiDonato and Nicole Cabell as the star-crossed lovers. Directed by Vincent Boussard in his U.S. debut and led by returning conductor Riccardo Frizza, this new co-production with Munich’s Bavarian State Opera features costumes by renowned fashion designer Christian Lacroix and sets by Vincent Lemaire.

Attila – Giuseppe Verdi
Thursday, September 11, at 8pm on KQED 9
In popular imagination, Attila the Hun was a ruthless barbarian, but to Verdi, he was a far more complex and compelling figure: a brave, ambitious warrior tormented by fierce internal doubts. This new San Francisco Opera/Teatro alla Scala co-production features a distinguished cast, including legendary Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto in the title role. Maestro Nicola Luisotti leads these performances.

Mefistofele (Mephistopheles) – Arrigo Boito
Thursday, September 25, at 9pm on KQED 9
This monumental work of “choral grandeur and melodic richness” (The New York Times), a reimagining of Goethe’s Faust, is one of the most impressive productions ever seen at the War Memorial Opera House. The title role of Mefistofele is sung by Russian Bass Ildar Abdrazakov in his staged role debut. Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in Robert Carsen’s impressive San Francisco Opera production.

Rigoletto – Giuseppe Verdi
Thursday, October 2 at 8pm on KQED 9
Verdi’s Rigoletto brings to life the vivid and compelling story of a vengeful court jester desperately attempting to protect his daughter from disaster. The world-class cast, led by Music Director Nicola Luisotti, features Serbian baritone Željko Lučić in the title role and the San Francisco Opera debut of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda. Acclaimed opera and theater director Harry Silverstein returns to direct this San Francisco Opera production with sets designed by Michael Yeargan.

Featured as part of the PBS Fall Arts Festival
Porgy and Bess – George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin
Friday, October 17, at 9pm on KQED 9

Gershwin miraculously melded classical music, popular song, jazz, blues and spirituals in this quintessentially American masterpiece. Featuring such classics as “Summertime,” Porgy and Bess tells the poignant story of a crippled beggar, the headstrong woman he loves and the community that sustains them both. Director Francesca Zambello’s critically-acclaimed production stars bass-baritone Eric Owens as Porgy and soprano Laquita Mitchell as Bess.

About KQED:
KQED Public Television, the PBS affiliate that serves Northern California, is one of the country’s most popular public television stations. It brings the values of public media to homes around the Bay Area with Emmy Award–winning programming that inspires, informs and entertains, including Downton Abbey and Sherlock from MASTERPIECE, American Experience, American MastersGreat Performances, POV, Independent Lens, NOVA and Nature. KQED produces local series like Check, Please! Bay Area, KQED NEWSROOM, San Francisco Opera, Truly CA and ImageMakers, as well as popular programs for national broadcast such as Film School ShortsEssential Pépin and QUEST. KQED also distributes programming to public media stations across the country including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!Roadtrip Nation and Joanne Weir’s Cooking School. For more information, please visit kqed.org/tv.

About San Francisco Opera
Founded in 1923 by Italian conductor Gaetano Merola, San Francisco Opera is one of the world’s leading producers for the lyric theater stage and has been critically acclaimed for its innovative and bold productions; showcasing internationally renowned singers, conductors, directors and designers; and annually presenting a repertory season of classic opera works alongside dramatic and compelling contemporary works including commissioned world premieres. San Francisco Opera is well regarded for its strong commitment and high standards to the training of young professional artists through the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera Center, having graduated many of the world’s most important singers of the last forty years. Under the current leadership of General Director David Gockley and Music Director Nicola Luisotti, the Company has launched many new media initiatives including the popular High Definition Simulcast performances; the international release of Company productions on DVD and Blu-ray for home enjoyment, as well as a growing cinema series; monthly radio broadcasts heard locally, nationwide and abroad; and an extensive Bay Area education program for students, adults and families.