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Inaugural season to include William Kentridge’s Multimedia Setting of Schubert’s Winterreise with Matthias Goerne and Markus Hinterhäuser;
Ana Sokolović’s Svadba-Wedding; Voigt Lessons Starring Deborah Voigt;
The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert; and ChamberWORKS
with SF Opera Orchestra Members and Adler Fellows

San Francisco Opera’s Wilsey Center for Opera—A 38,000-Sq.-Ft.-Complex—comprises the 299-Seat Flexible Taube Atrium Theater featuring Meyer Sound Constellation Acoustic System, Education Studio and Rehearsal Venue,
Costume Studio, San Francisco Opera Archive,
Exhibition Galleries and Administrative Offices

March 4 — San Francisco Opera’s SF Opera Lab opens its inaugural season with innovative programming that celebrates the power of the human voice theatrically in intimate spaces, including the state-of-the-art Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco Opera’s new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera.

“When I began my tenure with San Francisco Opera some ten years ago, I quickly realized the Company’s operations were strewn throughout the city creating a lack of efficiency at a staggering expense,” said San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley. “While we looked at a variety of alternatives, it was San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center Managing Director Elizabeth Murray who provided the most cost-efficient and viable solution with her proposal for us to consolidate the Company’s activities on the War Memorial campus by renovating the fourth floor of the Veterans Building. I am heartened by the overwhelming support for our capital campaign particularly by Dede Wilsey, who provided the lead gift and inspired so many others to generously participate. In recognition of Dede’s leadership it is the Company’s great honor to name this new opera center after her.”

The first season of SF Opera Lab comprises William Kentridge’s multimedia setting of Franz Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise with baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser (March 11–13); Ana Sokolović’s slavic a cappellachamber opera Svadba-Wedding (April 2–10); ChamberWORKS with SF Opera Orchestra members and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows (April 7 & 20); The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert—screenings of the Oscar-nominated French film with live performance of the original score (April 14-23); and Voigt Lessons, a one-woman showstarring soprano Deborah Voigt developed with Terrence McNally and Francesca Zambello with music direction by Kevin Stites (May 6 & 8).

SF Opera Lab also presents a series of Pop-Up events at diverse venues around the Bay Area, the first of which took place on February 11, 2016 at Public Works and the next event will take place on April 1, 2016 at The Chapel, both in the Mission district of San Francisco.

The new Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater is a state-of-the-art performance venue designed to be configured in multiple ways, providing both performer and audience members with a very personal approach to the concert experience. The 299-seat theater is distinguished by the Constellation® acoustic system from Berkeley-based Meyer Sound, which enables composers, conductors and artists to customize different acoustic environments for their performances.

The Taube Atrium Theater and the John M. Bryan Education Studio are the centerpieces of San Francisco Opera’s new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera (located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building, 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco). Adjacent to the War Memorial Opera House, the Wilsey Center for Opera opened in late February 2016 and consolidates most of the Company’s operations into a single campus in the vibrant arts district of San Francisco’s Civic Center/Hayes Valley.

The John M. Bryan Education Studio will be a center for learning, including family, student and adult workshops, activities and community events. Building upon the San Francisco Opera Education Department’s current programs, expanded programming will include Exploration Workshops for Families, Overture Workshops for Adults, and the creation of new programs for middle and high school students, toddler-aged children and their parents. The Bryan Education Studiois also designed to accommodate orchestra rehearsals and host events. The studio features an acoustically isolated floor and is equipped with acoustic treatments behind fabric panels on the walls and ceiling. Natural light floods the room through translucent lay light panels beneath a skylight in the ceiling.

The award-winning Bay Area architectural firm Mark Cavagnero Associates has led the design and renovation of the Wilsey Center complex, creating a series of modern insertions designed to complement the historic building. Throughout the fourth floor, offices have been kept low to allow the large vaulted ceilings to soar uninterrupted, providing natural light to the spaces through the restored historic lay lights. Cavagnero’s design calls for the use of glass walls to provide acoustic separation while accentuating the historic elements of the building.

San Francisco Opera will occupy 28,000 square feet on the fourth floor with administrative offices; the Norby Anderson Costume Studio; two public exhibition galleries, the Hume Family Gallery and the David Gockley Gallery; the Edward Paul Braby San Francisco Opera Archive, the Company’s new and public home for its archive collection; Taube Atrium Theater’s Barbara Moller Ward Lobby; and the William W. Godward Canteen. The Norby Anderson Costume Studio will also utilize an additional 10,000 square feet in the renovated basement to accommodate artist fitting rooms and storage of the Company’s extensive costume collection. The Wilsey Center will provide offices and working space for approximately 130 members of the Company’s staff in Archive, Costume, Development, Education, Human Resources, Marketing and Teleservices.

In late February 2016, the top floor of the Veterans Building came alive once again with public performances in the newly established Taube Atrium Theater, a state-of-the-art performance venue designed to be configured in multiple ways, providing both performer and audience members with a very personal approach to the concert experience.  From traditional theater-style performances and seating, to cabaret settings with café tables and performances in the round, to more experimental configurations, the Taube Atrium Theater will offer intimate and adventurous experiences with its public offerings.

The 299-seat Taube Atrium Theater will be distinguished by the Constellation® acoustic system from Berkeley-based Meyer Sound. The Constellation® system is an extraordinary innovation in acoustical science enabling composers, conductors and artists to customize different acoustic environments for their performances with the press of a button. Specialized acoustic zones enable performers to hear each other while audience members experience optimal acoustics from anywhere in the theater. Meyer Sound’s Constellation® system will use 24 widely distributed microphones and 75 small, self-powered loudspeakers mounted discreetly within the theater walls and ceiling. San Francisco Opera is the first opera company to use this technology, providing a virtually unlimited palette of acoustic possibilities to create the most compelling sound experience.

SF Opera Lab programming at the Taube Atrium Theater has one directive—each presentation must combine a theatrical as well as a vocal performance aspect,” continued Mr. Gockley. “I wanted the Wilsey Center to offer interesting programs that would appeal to individuals seeking more intimate and non-traditional encounters with opera and the performing arts. I’m hoping this will be an incubator for new ideas to infuse the opera art form and will serve as a gateway for new audiences.” Tasked with producing SF Opera Lab’s inaugural season, Director of Programming Elkhanah Pulitzer has curated five varying presentations including three internationally acclaimed programs.

“I am thinking of it more in terms of the Opera’s R&D branch, a testing ground and incubator for new ideas and working methods across the entire Company, with an active flow of creative energy back and forth between the Wilsey Center and the Opera House,” said Ms. Pulitzer. She is involved in every facet of curating this new space, from helping cultivate new talent to reaching out to younger audiences with more intimate work. “SF Opera Lab is not your parent’s opera, but also not opera light,” explained Ms. Pulitzer. “It is a litmus test for what opera can be and can become.”

The Taube Atrium opened to the public on February 28 with the first concert of the Schwabacher Debut Recital Series. A co-presentation of San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, the annual recital series features talented young artists who have participated in these training programs in a wide-ranging and eclectic repertoire of song literature. The series continues with three additional recitals through April.

Season One of SF Opera Lab in the Taube Atrium Theater, March–May 2016

*  March 11, 12, 13:  The West Coast premiere of Winterreise (Winter Journey), a series of 24 animated short films created as a visual response to Franz Schubert’s haunting song cycle Winterreise. In this multimedia collaboration, celebrated South African artist William Kentridge has designed his own imaginary visual journey as a poetic counterpoint to the interpretation of Schubert’s lieder masterpiece. Winterreise is performed by German baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist (and new artistic director of the Salzburg Festival) Markus Hinterhäuser. This production originated in July 2014 at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. [Reserved seating $125]

*  April 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10:  Ana Sokolović’s virtuosic a cappella chamber opera for six women, Svadba–Wedding, in a new production directed by San Francisco Opera veteran Michael Cavanagh (Lucia di Lammermoor, Susannah, Nixon in China). Sung in Serbian, Svadba-Wedding is set the night before a wedding as girlfriends prepare the bride-to-be in a ravishing and cathartic rite of passage. A site-specific performance experience, the production is being created especially for the Taube Atrium Theater. [General admission $75]  

*  April 7 & 20:  ChamberWORKS – Members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra curate two eclectic and intimate nights of music and song featuring the 2016 Adler Fellows. Program highlights include the premiere of “Bourne to Shelley” by Shinji Eshima and “Trio for Violin, ‘Cello and Piano” by David Conte (April 7); Adler Fellow soprano Julie Adams performs works by Previn, Chausson and Ponchielli (April 20). [General admission $35]

*  April 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 23:  The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert—Be transported to 1920s Paris and Le Jazz Hot as composer-conductor Benoît Charest leads Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville and a guest chanteuse in a live performance of his original score during a screening of Sylvain Chomet’s Oscar-nominated French animated film.  [General admission $25]  

*  May 6 & 8:  Soprano Deborah Voigt stars in the West Coast premiere of her one-woman show Voigt Lessons, developed with playwright Terrence McNally and director Francesca Zambello. Voigt Lessons weaves songs and arias into a vivid and moving account of her life and career, with music direction by pianist Kevin Stites.  [General admission $45]

For more information, visit
SF Opera Lab’s 2017 Season will include  

*  February–March 2017:  THE SOURCE
“Hurling from propulsive small-ensemble chamber rock to eerie Auto-Tuned ruminations, Mr. Hearne’s oratorio about Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks doesn’t aim to score easy political points. Instead it does what great art should: It pushes you to think and feel about the world in new ways…“The Source” (with a brilliant collage libretto by Mark Doten) is remarkable and essential.” (The New York Times on The Source album, released by New Amsterdam Records in October 2015)

SF Opera Lab presents The Sourcecomposer Ted Hearne’s “ambitious, bewildering, stealthily shattering new oratorio”(The New York Times) about Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), the US Army private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. The work for four singers and an ensemble of seven musicians features a libretto by Mark Doten that sets Manning’s words and primary-source documents, including sections of the classified material known as the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary.

*  March 2017:  LA VOIX HUMAINE 
“Ms. Antonacci’s remarkable talent is a suspension between artifice and naturalness, theatricality and subtlety. She may be putting on an act, but she’s also telling the truth.” (The New York Times/La Voix humaine, March 2015)

La Voix humaine, Francis Poulenc’s searing lyric tragedy from 1959 with a text by Jean Cocteau, is a one-act, one-character monologue about a woman who, rejected by her lover, engages in a farewell phone conversation with him. Renowned Italian soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci, acclaimed for her tour-de-force interpretation of the role, stars.

Complete information on the SF Opera Lab’s Season Two (Spring 2017) will be released at a later date.


WINTERREISE by William Kentridge WEST COAST PREMIERE March 11 (8 p.m.), 12 (8 p.m.), 13 (3 p.m.), 2016

Taube Atrium Theater
at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera
Veterans Building, Fourth Floor
401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

Sung in German
Approximate running time:  1 hour, 20 minutes with no intermission
First performance of production:  Aix-en-Provence Festival; July 4, 2014

Matthias Goerne, baritone
Markus Hinterhäuser, piano
William Kentridge, stage direction and visual creation
Sabine Theunissen, set design
Greta Goiris, costumes
Hermann Sorgeloos, lighting design
Snezana Marovic, montage video

In this West Coast premiere, Franz Schubert’s Romantic song cycle of longing and loneliness is taken to new heights in a multimedia collaboration between South African artist William Kentridge, German baritone Matthias Goerne and pianist Markus Hinterhäuser.  

WINTERREISE PRE-SHOW TALKS: *  March 12 at 7:10pm – SF MOMA Curator of Media Arts Rudolf Frieling and Stanford Professor Adrian Daub on Franz Schubert *  March 13 at 2:10pm – Frank Smigiel, SF MOMA Associate Curator, Performance and Film, on William Kentridge

$125 (reserved seating).  For tickets and more information visit; phone (415) 864-3330; or visit the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. The Box Office at the Taube Atrium Theater will be open starting 60 minutes before each show.

“Mr. Kentridge’s 24 stop-action films—made up of animated ink drawings and collages—offer a visually mesmerizing and thought-provoking commentary on Schubert’s song cycle.”  The New York Times

“Mr. Goerne is an ideal singer of lieder. His voice is strong, dark and rich. Though he can easily summon chesty power and chilling intensity, he can also bend a phrase with tenderness and focus his sound into streams of ethereal lyricism.”  The New York Times

“Mr. Hinterhäuser’s poetic playing matched Mr. Goerne’s expressivity. He played with beautiful tone in hushed passages and rattling intensity during stormy outbursts.”  The New York Times


San Francisco Opera gratefully acknowledges The Sarah Ratchye and Edward Frank Family Foundation for their support of Winterreise, and Dianne and Tad Taube for their support of Svadba-Wedding.  Classical KDFC is Media Sponsor of SF Opera Lab.

Support for the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera is made possible by the following individuals and companies.

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Norby Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. William K. Bowes, Jr., Edward Paul Braby, M.D., Jaquelin Hume Foundation, Leslie & George Hume, Bradford & Dorothy Jeffries, Franklin & Catherine Johnson, Peggy & Boyce Nute, Dianne & Tad Taube, Barbara Moller Ward, in honor of David Gockley, Webcor Builders, Diane B. Wilsey and Anonymous (2).

BUILDER’S CIRCLE: Jane Bernstein & Bob Ellis, Donna Dubinsky & Leonard Shustek, William & Barbara Edwards, Jennifer Coslett MacCready, Meyer Sound, Mark W. & Mauree Jane Perry, Betty & Jack Schafer, Ann Classen Treadwell, in memory of Zelda Ann Classen, and S. Shariq Yosufzai & Brian E. James.

San Francisco Opera is sponsored, in part, by The Dolby Family, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn, Franklin and Catherine Johnson, Edmund W. and Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Fund, Steven M. Menzies, Bernard and Barbro Osher, Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, Dianne and Tad Taube, Phyllis C. Wattis Endowment Funds and Diane B. Wilsey. San Francisco Opera is supported, in part, by a grant from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.

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