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“Directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by John DeMain, this production is a fully-realized, opulent and smooth-sailing time capsule—as near to the original blockbuster as we will ever experience.” (Huffington Post)

“This Show Boat offers a broad array of theatrical delights. There are rollicking dance numbers… and big crowd scenes, balanced by moments of intimate
emotion and sheer romance.”  (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Zambello demonstrates convincing skill in contrasting the striking juxtapositions between slapstick, song-and-dance routines, serious subject
matter and penetrating music.”  (Los Angeles Times)


On June 30, 2015 San Francisco Opera’s production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s quintessentially American masterpiece Show Boat will be released on DVD/Blu-ray. Directed by Francesca Zambello and featuring an ensemble cast spanning the worlds of opera and Broadway, the production was recorded live at the War Memorial Opera House in June 2014 and continues San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley’s long history with this watershed of American musical theater.

Reflecting life on the Mississippi in the 1880s, Show Boat is both a poignant love story and a powerful reminder of America’s bitter legacy of racism. The classic score is filled with  songs such as “Ol’ Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.” San Francisco Opera’s Show Boat remains faithful to the 1927 original through casting and musical resources. As the romantic leads, soprano Heidi Stober as Magnolia Hawks and baritone Michael Todd Simpson as Gaylord Ravenal “convey an easy blend of show-tune naturalism and operatically luxurious vocal production” (Los Angeles Times). Soprano Patricia Racette, in her debut performance as singer Julie La Verne, “balances her rich and powerful soprano chops with a practical experience in cabaret” (Huffington Post). As Cap’n Andy Hawks, the owner of the Cotton Blossom, Broadway veteran Bill Irwin “brought his trademark loosey-goosey physical shtick to the role… and was ably joined by Harriet Harris as his domineering wife, Parthy Ann” (San Francisco Chronicle). Bass Morris Robinson as Joe “brings a penetratingly deep operatic bass to ‘Ol’ Man River.’ [Soprano] Angela Renée Simpson is a sensational scene-stealing Queenie, his sassy wife” (Los Angeles Times).

Maestro John DeMain, who previously led San Francisco Opera’s 2009 production of another music theater masterpiece, Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. DeMain partnered with David Gockley to lead the groundbreaking 1982 production of Show Boat at Houston Grand Opera and was instrumental in restoring much of Jerome Kern’s original score. According to Gockley, “in this day and age, only opera companies command the resources necessary to give a grand work like Show Boat its artistic due. … As a top-tier opera company, we are able to present this work the way Kern and Hammerstein intended it, and we are able to cast the type of rich, legitimate voices required to give it its luster.”

Francesca Zambello’s “splashy, energetic production” (San Francisco Chronicle) features choreography by Michele Lynch, sets by Peter J. Davison, costumes by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Mark McCullough and sound design by Tod Nixon. This San Francisco Opera co-production premiered at Lyric Opera of Chicago in February 2012, and has subsequently been produced at Houston Grand Opera and Washington National Opera. “San Francisco Opera’s Show Boat celebrates the depth and diversity of our musical heritage and with its brilliant cast glorifies the sounds of America” (Huffington Post).

The DVD/Blu-ray release features 33 minutes of artist interviews, among other bonus materials. Show Boat is the sixth release in San Francisco Opera’s collaboration with EuroArts Music International ( and Naxos of America ( The Company’s critically-lauded productions of Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer’s Moby-Dick and Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia were released in October 2013, followed by Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in March 2014, and Boito’s Mefistofele and Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi in fall 2014. For more information and video clips of San Francisco Opera’s media releases, go to


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Headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, Naxos of America is the leading independent classical music distributor in the U.S. and Canada. Specializing in state-of-the-art distribution and marketing and promotion, Naxos of America distributes nearly 65,000 SKUs to traditional brick and mortar retail, as well as offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to consumer direct fulfillment. Naxos of America is also one of the world’s largest digital distributors of independent classical music and video, supplying a catalog of over 1.6 million tracks and 65,000 album discs to hundreds of digital platforms and mobile outlets across the globe. Naxos of America offers marketing, publicity, physical and digital e-commerce services, licensing opportunities, streaming services, sales support and customer service for all new releases and active catalog titles of Naxos Records and nearly 700 distributed labels.

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