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Conductor Giuseppe Finzi Leads Cast of Bel Canto Specialists,
Including Tenor Lawrence Brownlee in His Company Debut

Ancillary Events Include an All About Don Pasquale Family Workshop,
an Insight Panel Discussion and a CD Signing Event


Bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro; soprano Heidi Stober; tenor Lawrence Brownlee;
baritone Lucas Meachem; baritone Edward Nelson

SAN FRANCISCO (September 6, 2016)—San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season continues with Donizetti’s Don Pasquale in six performances from September 28–October 15, 2016. After a 32-year absence from the Company’s repertory, the sparkling comedy of cruel games and young love returns in Laurent Pelly’s fanciful staging, which is a co-production with Santa Fe Opera and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu. Maestro Giuseppe Finzi conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, Chorus and a cast including bass–baritone Maurizio Muraro in the title role, soprano Heidi Stober as Norina, tenor Lawrence Brownlee in his Company debut as Ernesto and baritones Lucas Meachem and Edward Nelson as Dr. Malatesta. Several ancillary events, including a family workshop All About Don Pasquale, an Insight Panel discussion with the cast and creative team and a CD signing event with Brownlee, offer a variety of opportunities to engage with the opera and artists. 

French director and designer Laurent Pelly made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2009 with his celebrated production of Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, which delighted audiences at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera before coming to the War Memorial Opera House. He returned to San Francisco Opera in 2013 to direct Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann starring tenor Matthew Polenzani in the title role. This season, Pelly returns to bel canto and Donizettian comedy with Don Pasquale, one of the composer’s most humorous and charming works. Pelly’s staging utilizes a rotating stage that allows the performers to move between the opera’s different scenes without lengthy pauses for set changes. “Don Pasquale is a masterpiece of comedy and music together,” said Pelly, “It has as its ancestor the Italian commedia dell’arte, but in the settings and, above all, in the costumes we refer to the golden age of Italian film comedies, that is to say, the films of the 1950s and early 1960s. It is the story of an old man who still feels an impulse towards life. This is a comedy that is at the same time very funny and cruel in that it is the story of an old man who is abused by the three younger characters. During the second half of the show, the set is upside down as Don Pasquale’s whole world is turned upside down; his chair is on the ceiling and the chandelier is on the floor.”

Last heard at San Francisco Opera during the 1984 Season, Donizetti’s bubbly and, at times, poignant comedy pits the conspiratorial trio of Dr. Malatesta, Norina and Ernesto against the old miser Don Pasquale who has decided to take a young wife and prevent his young nephew Ernesto from inheriting his wealth. The madcap energy of the schemes and the moments of tenderness are given wing by Donizetti’s lyrical invention in rapid-fire, tongue-twisting patter songs and expressive arias that epitomize the style known as bel canto, or “beautiful singing.”

A distinguished group of Donizetti specialists will bring Don Pasquale to life on the War Memorial Opera House stage. Italian bass-baritone Maurizio Muraro will portray the title role. Last heard at San Francisco Opera in 2013 as Doctor Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Muraro has been hailed as “a quintessential buffo bass” (New York Classical Review) and for putting on a “veritable patter clinic” in the rapid-fire comedic arias that figure prominently in the 19th–century comedies of Rossini and Donizetti. American soprano Heidi Stober—“the complete package: a winsome presence along with an instrument of stunning brilliance, proportion and beauty” (Opera News)—sings Norina, who is both Ernesto’s sweetheart and the formidable “Sofronia,” a shrew who torments Pasquale and spends his money. African-American tenor Lawrence Brownlee makes his San Francisco Opera debut as Ernesto. Acclaimed for his creation of the role of legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker in Daniel Schnyder’s 2015 opera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, Brownlee is an internationally renowned artist and heralded for his “light lyric tenor, bright of timbre and absolutely secure in his dizzying flights into the coloratura heavens” (Chicago Tribune). The role of Dr. Malatesta, the orchestrator of the opera’s central scheme to teach Pasquale a lesson, will be performed by baritones Lucas Meachem (Sept. 28, Oct. 2, Oct. 12, Oct. 15) and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Edward Nelson (Oct. 4 and 7). Maestro Giuseppe Finzi, praised for his “infectious vitality” (San Francisco Chronicle) in this repertory, will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Ian Robertson is the Chorus Director.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the six San Francisco Opera performances of Don Pasquale are scheduled for September 28 (7:30 p.m.), October 2 (2:00 p.m.), October 4 (7:30 p.m.), October 7 (7:30 p.m.), October 12 (7:30 p.m.) and October 15 (7:30 p.m.), 2016.


Single tickets for Don Pasquale are priced from $26 to $417 (subject to change) and may be purchased at or through the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue or by phone at (415) 864-3330. Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only. The War Memorial Opera House is located at 301 Van Ness Avenue at Grove Street. Patrons are encouraged to use public transportation to attend San Francisco Opera performances. The War Memorial Opera House is within walking distance of the Civic Center BART station and near numerous bus lines, including 5, 21, 47, 49 and the F Market Street. For more public transportation information, visit and

Casting, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change. For further information about Don Pasquale and San Francisco Opera’s 2016–17 Season, please visit


DON PASQUALE by Gaetano Donizetti
Production new to San Francisco Opera
September 28
(7:30 p.m.), October 2 (2:00 p.m.), 4 (7:30 p.m.), 7● (7:30 p.m.), 12● (7:30 p.m.), 15● (7:30 pm), 2016

Libretto by Giovanni Ruffini and Gaetano Donizetti
Co-Production with Santa Fe Opera and Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
Approximate running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including one intermission
Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Don Pasquale                    Maurizio Muraro
Norina                                Heidi Stober
Ernesto                              Lawrence Brownlee*
Dr. Malatesta                      Lucas Meachem (September 28, October 2●, 12● and 15●) 
Dr. Malatesta                      Edward Nelson† (October 4● and 7●)
A Notary                             Bojan Knežević


Production Team:
Conductor                                         Giuseppe Finzi
Director                                             Laurent Pelly
Associate Director                             Dan Dooner*
Set Designer                                     Chantal Thomas
Costume Designer                             Laurent Pelly
Lighting Designer                               Duane Schuler
Chorus Director                                  Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Chorus

* San Francisco Opera debut                      † Current Adler Fellow
● Opera Vision Performance 


This production is made possible, in part, by Leslie and George Hume. Additional support is provided by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem, through the Emerging Stars Fund, and for Maestro Finzi’s appearance through the Conductors Fund.



A calendar of ancillary events follows below; for further information visit

San Francisco Opera Guild Opera Previews, September 19-22

San Francisco Opera Guild’s chapters and the San Jose Opera Guild present Deborah Rosengaus, who will present 90-minute in-depth presentations exploring Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at the following Bay Area locations:

● Marin Chapter – September 19, 7:30pm at The Redwoods in Mill Valley
(Admission: $10)

● San Francisco Chapter – September 20, 12pm at Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Public Library (Free)

● San Jose Opera Guild – September 21, 10am at Addison-Penzak JCC Silicon Valley in Los Gatos (Admission: Free to San Jose Opera Guild and JCC members; $10 general public)

● East Bay Chapter – September 22, 8pm at Lafayette Library & Learning Center (Admission: $10)

San Francisco Opera Guild Insight Panel Discussion, September 26, 6:30 pm, Herbst Theatre

San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Opera Guild present an Insight Panel discussion with members of the cast and creative team of Don Pasquale. Get a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative process as panelists share their insights about the challenges and rewards of bringing Don Pasquale to life. Free for San Francisco Opera members and students with valid ID and $5 for the general public; tickets are available online at and at the door.

Exploration Workshops: All About Don Pasquale, October 2, 11:00am–12:00pm, 12:30pm–1:30pm

Two interactive family workshops all about Donizetti’s Don Pasquale will be held in the Bryan Education Studio in the Wilsey Center for Opera. Workshop participants will explore the music, characters and story of Don Pasquale through theater and music activities (no music or performance experience required). The whole family is sure to enjoy the twist and turns of this romantic comedy. The workshops are highly interactive and creative! Recommended for families with children ages 7 and older. Children should be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Admission is $10; discounts available for any families in need by emailing [email protected].                                                  

Meet Lawrence Brownlee CD Signing, October 2, 4:45 pm

Immediately after the October 2 matinee performance of Don Pasquale, tenor Lawrence Brownlee will sign copies of his new CD, Allegro io son: Donizetti and Bellini, at the Opera Shop in the South Mezzanine of the War Memorial Opera House. Meet the artist and get a signed copy of his newest release.

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