San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2016 Season at the War Memorial Opera House opens May 27 with Georges Bizet’s Carmen

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NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2016) — San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2016 Season at the War Memorial Opera House opens May 27 with Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Opera’s ultimate femme fatale returns in a bold staging by the daring Catalan opera and theater director Calixto Bieito in his U.S. opera debut. Mezzo-sopranos Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson star in the passionate title role. In a casting change announced today, tenor Brian Jagde, originally scheduled to star as Don José in six of Carmen’s eleven performances running through July 3, will now sing the role for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by Adam Diegel. Jagde and Diegel replace tenor Maxim Aksenov, who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. San Francisco Opera also returns to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, for a free live simulcast of Carmen on July 2.

Carmen marks the long-awaited United States opera debut of innovative international director Calixto Bieito. The so-called “bad-boy of opera,” Bieito is hailed for his provocative and iconoclastic opera productions. His raw, sexually-charged and cinematic vision of Carmen unabashedly provokes the visceral emotions pulsing through this tale of love, lust and murder. Bieito’s “intelligent, persuasive and intense” (The Guardian, UK) high-energy production will be staged in San Francisco by his longtime collaborator, Spanish director Joan Anton Rechi.

This powerful tale of a defiantly free-spirited woman and her obsessive lover features two outstanding casts. Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson share the role of the impassioned gypsy Carmen. Brian Jagde is the lovesick soldier Don José for all performances except May 28, which will be sung by American tenor Adam Diegel in his San Francisco Opera debut. Diegel performed the role in Bieito’s 2012 production for English National Opera. The casts also feature baritone Zachary Nelson and bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as the dashing bullfighter Escamillo, and sopranos Ellie Dehnand Erika Grimaldi sharing the role of Micaëla. Italian conductor Carlo Montanaromakes his Company debut leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in Bizet’s fiery, tuneful score, with Company Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcerconducting the final performance on July 3.

Bieito commented: “This opera, from my point of view, deals with limits, the emotional and physical boundaries between people, and about freedom, love, violence, sorrow, desperation, solitude. Carmen is a young woman in the context of a difficult life where she has had to survive. She is intuitive, earthy, passionate, melancholy, sensitive—a young person who desires to drink up life— who is living in a dangerous and violent society. My Carmen is not picturesque, nor folkloric, nor a collection of engravings of a stereotypical old Spain. It is a Carmen that walks across the border.” 

Bieito’s Carmen is set in post-Franco Spain in the autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta, the ancient Mediterranean outpost located on the north coast of Africa. According to revival director Joan Anton Rechi: “Calixto wanted a high level of realism to show a wild and cruel universe full of passions and primal virility,” and notes the production is more faithful to the gritty and raw naturalism of the original Mérimée novel that Bizet and his co-librettists adapted.

The San Francisco Opera co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, based on Bieito’s original production, was built by the San Francisco Opera production department and reunites Bieito’s original Carmen creative team including set designer Alfons Flores and costume designer Mercè Paloma. The production design elements include six 1980s-era Mercedes Benz W123 model cars, which were procured in the Bay Area. These Mercedes-Benz sedans are ubiquitous in Ceuta and surrounding areas, where they are used as “Grand Taxis,” a popular form of transportation in the region. The cars appear in the production’s modern-day frontier universe as the method by which the gypsies smuggle their contraband.

Please note: This production contains violence, nudity and suggestive behavior. Parent discretion advised.  

Free Live Simulcast of Carmen, AT&T Park / July 2

Continuing what has become a beloved Bay Area tradition, San Francisco Opera partners with the San Francisco Giants and presenting sponsor Taube Philanthropies for Opera at the Ballpark—a free live simulcast of Bizet’s Carmen at AT&T Park on Saturday, July 2 at 7:30 p.m. Through state-of-the-art technology, the performance ofCarmen will be transmitted live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House to AT&T Park’s high-definition scoreboard. AT&T Park concessions will be open for the simulcast, providing audiences the rare opportunity to pair hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn with world-class opera. Last year’s Opera at the Ballpark drew an audience of 30,130 to AT&T Park for Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Opera at the Ballpark is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Taube Philanthropies, and the extraordinary technology of the Koret/Taube Media Suite. Free registration for early entry/best seating and entry into a special prize drawing is available at   

High resolution downloadable production and artist photographs of Carmen and are available at 

For cast and creative team biographies, go to 

Carmen videos including a trailer and comments from director Calixto Bieito can be viewed at  

Tickets and Information

Tickets for Carmen are priced from $26 to $395 (prices subject to change). For tickets and information, call (415) 864-3330, visit or visit the San Francisco Opera Box Office, 301 Van Ness Avenue (at Grove Street). Standing Room tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on the day of each performance; tickets are $10 each, cash only, limit two per person.

Before every opera performance, listen to charismatic music scholars present a 25-minute Opera Talk including an overview of the opera, with insights on the music, composer and historical background.  Talks begin 55 minutes before each performance in the orchestra section of the War Memorial Opera House and are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance.

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 San Francisco Opera’s Summer 2016 season, please visit  
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* San Francisco Opera Debut   **U.S. opera debut   † Current Adler Fellow   ♪ Role Debut   ● OperaVision Performance
All performances take place at the War Memorial Opera House unless noted. 

CARMEN by Georges Bizet

May 27 (7:30 p.m.), 28 (7:30 p.m.), 29● (2 p.m.), 31 (7:30 p.m.); June 1(7:30 p.m.), 17● (7:30 p.m.), 23● (7:30 p.m.), 26 (2 p.m.), 30 (7:30 p.m.); July 2 (7:30 p.m.), 3● (2 p.m.),2016

San Francisco Opera co-production with Boston Lyric Opera, based on Calixto Bieito’s production which originated at El Festival de Peralada in Catalonia and Opera Zuid in the Netherlands

Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
Approximate running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes including one intermission
Sung in French with English supertitles

First performance:  Paris; March 3, 1875
First SFO performance:  October 1, 1927
Most recent SFO Performances:  2011–12 Season

Carmen – Irene Roberts
Ginger Costa-Jackson (5/28), (5/31), (6/17), (6/30), (7/3)
Don José – Brian Jagde
Adam Diegel*(5/28)
Micaëla – Ellie Dehn
Erika Grimaldi* 
(5/28), (5/31), (6/17), (6/30), (7/3)
Escamillo – Zachary Nelson*
Michael Sumuel (5/28), (5/31), (6/17), (6/30), (7/3)
Zuniga – Brad Walker*
El Dancaïro – Daniel Cilli*
El Remendado – Alex Boyer*
Moralès – Edward Nelson
Frasquita – Amina Edris*
Mercédès – Renée Rapier
Lillas Pastia – Yusef Lambert
Manuelita – Jamielyn Duggan
Torero – Marcos Vedovetto*
Girl – Amalia Abecassis
Saarika Gunapu♪ (5/28), (5/31), (6/17), (6/30), (7/2), (7/3) 

Production Team:
Conductor – Carlo Montanaro*
Jordi Bernàcer* (7/3)
Production – Calixto Bieito**
Revival Director – Joan Anton Rechi*
Set Designer – Alfons Flores**
Costume Designer – Mercè Paloma**
Lighting Designer – Gary Marder
Chorus Director – Ian Robertson

San Francisco Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Chorus and San Francisco Opera Dance Corps

Please note: This production contains violence, nudity and suggestive behavior. Parental discretion advised.  


Free Live Simulcast of Bizet’s Carmen at AT&T Park 

Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza in San Francisco 

Baseball and opera fans alike can experience the live performance of Georges Bizet’s captivating opera—simulcast live from the stage of the War Memorial Opera House—in the beautiful, under-the-stars setting of San Francisco’s AT&T Park with seating both on the field and in the stands. This event is free and open to the public, however advance online registration assures early entrance into the ballpark for preferred seating and entry into a special prize drawing. Registration is available at


San Francisco Opera is sponsored, in part, by Company Sponsors: 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, Diane B. Wilsey and two anonymous donors. Major support is provided by a grant from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. San Francisco Opera is proud to recognize its Season Sponsor, Wells Fargo, and Corporate Partners: Chevron, fueling great performances everywhere, and United Airlines, the Official Airline of San Francisco Opera.

Carmen is made possible, in part, by John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn.Maestro Montanaro’s appearance is made possible by the Conductors Fund, and Mr. Jagde’s appearance is made possible by the Emerging Stars Fund, both established by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem.Opera at the Ballpark is made possible by Presenting Sponsor, Taube Philanthropies. Major support is also provided by Platinum Sponsor, Chevron; Gold Sponsors, Charles Schwab and United Airlines; and PG&E. San Francisco Opera simulcasts are made possible through the extraordinary technology of the Company’s Koret/Taube Media Suite. Media sponsors include the San Francisco Examiner, Classical KDFC 89.9/90.3/92.5/104.9, Bay Area CW/CBS 5, Clear Channel Outdoor and

OperaVision, high-definition projection screens featured in the Balcony level, is made possible by the Koret/Taube Media Suite. Yamaha is the official piano of San Francisco Opera. Pianos provided by Piedmont Piano Company.

Wells Fargo: 2015–16 Season Sponsor

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