San Francisco Conservatory of Music joins forces with Portland Opera this spring to present Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco in a new production created and directed by celebrated stage director Kevin Newbury

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Sam Smith


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SAN FRANCISCO, March 6, 2014




The San Francisco Conservatory of Music joins forces with Portland Opera this spring to present Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco in a new production created and directed by celebrated stage director Kevin Newbury. The project marks the Conservatory’s first co-production with a professional opera company.  Both organizations share costs and designers but deploy their own casts and orchestras. After an opening run from March 21 through 29 at Portland’s Newmark Theatre featuring Portland Opera Resident Artists, the production travels to San Francisco, where it will be staged with a cast and orchestra consisting entirely of Conservatory students. Performances  run April 10 through 13 in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street.


“I am thrilled to be directing Argento’s Postcard from Morocco in this exciting new co-production,” says Kevin Newbury. I am drawn to the heightened theatrical structure of the opera and the opportunities it provides for ensemble-based acting and story-telling. I look forward to working with the San Francisco Conservatory students in our exploration of this compelling piece.”


Music Director Curt Pajer appreciates the significance the enterprise carries for students in the Opera program.  “We are ecstatic to welcome acclaimed stage director Kevin Newbury for our spring main stage production of Postcard from Morocco, and we are doubly gratified that this collaboration has led to an exciting co-production with Portland Opera.  By pooling our resources with a professional opera company, we are able to provide our cast with cutting-edge costumes and sets, leading to a much more rewarding experience for our students, both artistically and professionally.”


“We are delighted that the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is collaborating with us on this new production,” concurs Portland Opera General Director Christopher Mattaliano. “The Conservatory has one of the country’s best training programs for young singers, who will benefit greatly by working with stage director Kevin Newbury in this wonderful ensemble piece. We take very seriously our commitment to developing aspiring singers through our Resident Artists, several of whom will be showcased in our performances of Postcard, so working together with the Conservatory seems an especially appropriate opportunity for both organizations.”


Applauding Newbury’s direction of a recent production of Strauss’ Die Liebe der Danae, The New York Times observed that “an opera needs to be able to catch fire onstage, and in the Summerscape production, directed with imagination and emotional nuance by Kevin Newbury, “Danae” certainly does.” His work has been produced at Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Bard Summerscape, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Wexford Festival Opera (Ireland), Minnesota Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Glimmerglass, among many others. Newbury made his San Francisco Opera debut last summer with the premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and returns to direct a new production of Bellini’s Norma in September.


Known for its groundbreaking productions, Portland Opera has presented several premieres, including a commission, and recently released its second commercial recording, from a recent production of Phillip Glass’ Galileo Galilei. Portland Opera To Go, a community outreach and education program, reaches nearly 30,000 students, teachers and parents each year.  The company’s previous collaborators include the Curtis Institute of Music, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Klagenfurt Opera in Austria.


Dominick Argento is a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy© Award-winning composer, and one of America’s most distinguished composers of vocal music. Written in 1971, Postcard from Morocco is a whimsical look at life’s journey that has been called sweet, lyrical, funny and stimulatingly perplexing. After the work’s premiere, The New York Times declared that, “In a day when operatic masterpieces aren’t coming into existence, it deserves attention.”


For current information on all Conservatory concerts, visit Ticketed concerts are $20 general admission, $15 for students, seniors and Friends of the Conservatory. All performances are held at 50 Oak Street, San Francisco.


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About the Conservatory Opera Program:


The Conservatory Opera Theatre draws exceptionally talented young singers from around the world and provides them with advanced training in vocal style, acting, stage movement and other essentials of operatic craft. In the fall semester, the Opera Theatre presents an hour-long version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel or Mozart’s Magic Flute with sets and costumes in matinee performances for children, in addition to outreach performances. Presented in the spring semester, recent fully staged operas have included Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Rake’s Progress, La bohème, Le Nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte, faculty composer Conrad Susa’s Transformations, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Marriage of Figaro, Die Fledermaus, The Crucible, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Count Ory, Tales of Hoffmann and Albert Herring. In addition, eight programs of opera scenes with piano accompaniment from the Opera Workshop program are presented each year, which includes an ensemble devoted to performing one-act operas in their entirety. San Francisco Classical Voice praised the Conservatory’s opera orchestra for playing “like the occupants of the La Scala pit” in a recent performance under the “masterful leadership” of guest conductor Bruno Ferrandis.






About San Francisco Conservatory of Music:


Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Robin Sutherland, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Preparatory Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit








Conservatory Opera Program


Argento Postcard from Morocco


A co-production with Portland Opera




Thursday, April 10 – Saturday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.


Sunday, April 13, 2 p.m.


Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall


San Francisco Conservatory of Music


50 Oak Street, San Francisco




415.503.6275 (M-F 10-4)






Creative Team   


Kevin Newbury, stage director


Curt Pajer, conductor


Curt Enderle, scenic designer


Sue Bonde, costume designer


Connie Yun, lighting designer








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Where it all begins
View our performance calendar



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