San Francisco Opera’s 2019 Summer Season kicked off last night with the electric Georges Bizet’s Carmen followed by George F. Handel’s Orlando and Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka through June 29. All three productions are new to San Francisco Opera.
Performing the title heroines in the operas for the first time are mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges as Carmen, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke as Orlando, and Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Rusalka.
Carmen features the French work about a free-spirited woman and her smitten lover with J’Nai Bridges in her debut as the title heroine with tenor Matthew Polenzani performing Don Jose for the first time in his career. Carmen made its debut in Paris in 1875 with the first SFO performance in 1927. This popular opera was last presented by SFO during the 2015-16 Season. Productions of Carmen are June 11, 14, 20, 23, 26, and 29. The opera is sung in French with English supertitles.
Orlando’s Sasha Cooke makes her highly-anticipated role debut this Sunday as the warrior who is envisioned here as a fighter pilot who is mentally tormented by battle trauma and an immoderate passion for his lover, Angelica. The first performance of Orlando was in London in 1733 with the most recent SFO performance during the 1985 season. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, Orlando is slated for June 9, 15, 18, 21, and 27.
Rusalka, the enchanting fairytale about a water nymph who trades her voice for love, returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage June 16, 19, 22, 25, and 28. Making its original debut in Prague in 1901, its first and most recent SFO performance was during the 1995 Season.
More Opera fun facts: All War Memorial Opera House performances feature a Pre-Opera Talk beginning 55 minutes prior to curtain for ticket holders with the corresponding performance. Additionally, two interactive family workshops at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera will explore Carmen through its story, music, production design and characters for families with children ages six and older. Tickets are $10 and attendance at the performance is not required to participate. The workshops are on June 23 at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (visit sfopera.com/community, 415-864-3330).
Opera lovers will also want to take note of the annual conference of Opera America June 12-16 where professionals from opera companies will arrive in San Francisco for sessions, panel discussions, and special events. Visit operaamerica.org for complete details.
For tickets to the SFO 2019 Summer Season and more information, call 415-864-3330 or visit sfopera.com.
ENTERTAINING NOTES. There are still a few more opportunities left to catch the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena during the NBA Finals this week for the final season in Oakland. If you can’t make it to the 6 p.m. game tomorrow night, for $25 you can catch the final official Warriors Watch Party with the fans for
Game 5 on Monday, June 10 at 6 p.m. The party includes performances by Warriors’ in-game entertainment teams, free cheer cards for the first 10,000 fans courtesy of NBC Sports Bay Area, photo opportunities with the Celebrate 47 banner and larger-than-life murals on the concourse as well as indulging in the merchandise and concessions. The doors open at 5 p.m. at Oracle and parking is $20. For tickets and more details visits www.nba.com/warriors/warriorswatchparties... In keeping with watch parties, the spacious lobby/restaurant at The LOT at City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon is also showcasing the NBA Finals on its super large screen. There’s not a bad seat in the house inside or out with seating, food, and libations for the entire family. The center is continuing to expand its unique offerings with the addition of three more eateries – C Casa, Mixt and Social-Affair. C Casa is a Napa-based taqueria serving innovative gourmet Mexican cuisine while Mixt offers locally-sourced salads, grain bowls and plates. Social-Affair is located next to The LOT featuring wine and beer from around the world along with tea and coffee, and artisanal foods. Slated to join the scene at CCBR later this year is Madewell, a popular fashion line offering premium denim, women’s clothing and accessories. Visit citycenterbishopranch.com.
WEEKEND SCENE: Bobby Caldwell Friday-Saturday, DJ Quik Sunday, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Monday-Wednesday at Yoshi’s Jack London Square Oakland, yoshis.com … Stu Allen and Mars Hotel Friday, Tri-Tip Trio Saturday, Soul Sanctuary Dance, Community DRUMMM Circle, Marcella Simien and Her Lovers Sunday at Ashkenaz Berkeley, www.ashkenaz.com … Terry Hanck Band Friday, Attila Viola and the Bakersfield Boys Saturday at Armando’s Martinez, armandosmartinez.com … DC Curry Friday-Sunday at Tommy T’s Comedy Club Pleasanton, tommyts.com.
TAHOE SPOTLIGHT: Grammy award winning artist and king of crunk Lil Jon kicks off the summer season in the Opal nightclub Friday at 9 p.m. at the Montbleu Resort Casino and Spa. General Admission tickets available at Ticketmaster.com (www.montbleuresort.com, 1-800-BE-LUCKY) … The South Shore Room at Harrah’s Tahoe brings a little magic to your world with Masters of Illusion nightly except Tuesday-Wednesday. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.com (www.harrahstahoe.com, 1-800-427-7247) …Over in North Shore, BoomBox with Bazooka Zac appear Friday in the Crown Room and The Golden Cadillacs in the Red Room on Saturday at the Crystal Bay Club Casino (www.crystalbayclub.com, 775-833-6333).
Published in the East Bay Time's TimeOut entertainment section Thursday, June 6, 2019.
FEATURED PHOTO: San Francisco Opera presents Bizet's Carmen featuring J'Nai Bridges. PHOTO COURTESY SF OPERA