Michael Fabiano, Elza Van Den Heever & Sondra Radvanovsky Headline San Francisco Opera’s 2020-21 Season

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Courtesy of San Francisco Opera)

The San Francisco Opera has announced its 2020-21 season featuring a number of new productions and stars. Here is a look.


The first production of the season will be Beethoven’s “Fidelio” celebrating the composer’s 250th anniversary. The new production will be directed by Matthew Ozawa with Music Director Designate Eun Sun Kim conducting a remarkable cast that includes Elza van den Heever as Leonora, Simon O’Neill as Florestan, Falk Struckmann as Pizarro, Eric Owens in the role of Rocco and Alfred Walker as Fernando.

The new production will be built entirely in the Company’s Bay Area scenery, costume and wig shops and will feature a rotating cube of cells, interrogation rooms and offices with video surveillance feeds showing the activities of detainees in all areas of the facility.

Performance Dates: Sept. 12–Oct. 1, 2020

Verdi’s “Rigoletto” returns to the stage with conductor Sir Mark Elder leading a cast that includes George Gagnidze in his signature role, Pene Pati, Nina Minasyan, Alfred Walker, Zanda Švēde, and Reginald Smith, Jr.

Performance Dates: Sept. 13–Oct. 4, 2020

The Company continues its Da Ponte trilogy with Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” with Michael Cavanagh directing the company’s production set in the “Great American House of Mozart and Da Ponte.” A new production of “Don Giovanni” will complete the trilogy in the 2021–22 Season.

Italian conductor Speranza Scappucci conducts the new production with Jennifer Davis in her American debut as Fiordiligi and baritone John Chest as Guglielmo. The cast will also include Irene Roberts returns as Dorabella, tenor Frédéric Antoun, making his Company debut, as Ferrando. The cast will be rounded out by legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto as Don Alfonso and soprano Hera Hyesang Parkas Despina.

Performance Dates: Oct. 6–28, 2020

Grammy-nominated Danish composer Poul Ruders’ powerful adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” makes its West Coast debut. Royal Danish Opera Artistic Director John Fulljames directs the production with Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård at the podium making company debut.

The cast will include Sasha Cooke, Michaela Martens, Sarah Cambidge and James Creswell.

Performance Dates: Oct. 29–Nov. 22, 2020

Puccini’s “La Boheme” returns to the stage with two different casts. Maria Agresta and  Michael Fabiano headline the first cast with Amina Edris as Musetta and Artur Ruciński as Marcello.

Meanwhile the second cast of Bohemians is headed by Aurelia Florian, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, Janai Brugger, and Anthony Clark Evans. Bass Soloman Howard portrays Colline in all performances and bass-baritone Dale Travis plays the dual roles of Benoit and Alcindoro. Nicola Luisotti conducts.

Performance Dates: Nov. 15–Dec. 6, 2020

Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” stars Lucas Meachem, Daniela Mack, Stephanie Lauricella, Levy Sekgapane, Lawrence Brownlee, Maurizio Muraro, Simon Lim, and Catherine Cook reprises Berta. Roderick Cox leads the opera in his company debut.

Performance Dates: April 25–May 16, 2021

Alexander Zemlinsky’s rarely performed operatic adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tale “The Birthday of the Infanta,” “Der Zwerg,” gets its company premiere with Darko Tresnjak directing.

Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási takes to the podium to lead a cast that includes Clay Hilley, Heidi Stober, and Sarah Cambidge,

Performance Dates: April 27–May 15, 2021

The spring season will be capped by a celebration of the music of Puccini, Verdi, Strauss and Wagner with Lianna Haroutounian and Iréne Theorin. Henrik Nánási conducts the special celebration.

Performance Dates: May 2, 6 and 8, 2021


The season will open with an Opening Night Celebration Concert, Opera Ball, Opera Supper, BRAVO! CLUB Gala. The gala will be conducted by Music Director Designate Eun Sun Kim and will feature soprano Albina Shagimuratova and tenor Pene Pati. The 80-minute program will feature virtuosic arias and passionate love duets spanning from Bellini to Broadway. There will be a celebratory post-concert toast to the season for the entire audience in the Opera House.

San Francisco’s most glamorous party of the year, Opera Ball, will inaugurate the Company’s 98th season. Presented by San Francisco Opera Guild and hosted by co-chairs Kim Dempster and Nafiseh Lindberg, the evening will begin with cocktails in the Beaux-Arts lobby of the historic War Memorial Opera House followed by a sumptuous dinner, the opening night concert and the Opera Ball after-party.

New to the season opener will be the Opera Supper, where opening night audiences will celebrate in an intimate,
black-tie-optional setting.

Performance Date: Sept. 11, 2020

Finally Opera in the Park will host Sondra Radvanovsky with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra performing a series of arias and musical favorites.

Performance Date: October 18, 2020