The season, the first programmed by general director David Gockley, opens on September 7 with Nicolas JoêŠl's staging of Saint-SaêŠns's Samson et Dalila, starring mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina and tenor Clifton Forbis (in his company debut) in the title roles and bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo as the High Priest of Dagon. Sandra Bernhard directs the recival; Patrick Summers conducts.
Susan Graham takes the title role in Handel's Ariodante, which opens June 15, 2008; joining her are Ruth Ann Swenson as Ginevra, soprano Veronica Cangémi making her U.S. debut as Dalinda, and contralto Ewa Podles making her house debut as Polinesso. The cast also features Richard Croft as Lurcanio and Eric Owens as the King of Scotland. The Dallas Opera production features designs by John Conklin; John Copley directs and Patrick Summers conducts.
San Francisco's "American" Ring cycle, directed by Francesca Zambello and shared with Washington National Opera (where it began in March 2006), gets started with Das Rheingold on June 3. Company music director Donald Runnicles conducts a cast featuring Mark Delavan as Wotan, Richard Paul Fink as Alberich, Stefan Margita as Loge, Jennifer Larmore as Fricka, Jill Grove as Erda, David Cangelosi as Mime, Andrea Silvestrelli as Fasolt and G‹nter Groissb‹ck as Fafner.
The Wagner lineup also includes Tannh‹user, opening September 18 and featuring tenor Peter Seiffert in the title role, Petra Maria Schnitzer as Elisabeth and Petra Lang as Venus; all three are making their house debuts. James Rutherford is Wolfram and Eric Halfvarson returns as Hermann. This first new production of the David Gockley era also marks company debuts for British director Graham Vick and his countryman, designer Paul Brown. Donald Runnicles conducts.
Philip Glass, whose Waiting for the Barbarians recently opened at the Austin Lyric Opera, has another new opera in the wings: Appomattox, a San Francisco commission with a libretto by British playwright Christopher Hutton that will receive its world premiere on October 5. George C. Wolfe makes his company debut directing; Dennis Russell Davies conducts baritone Dwayne Croft and bass-baritone Andrew Shore as Generals Lee and Grant, respectively. Sets are by Riccardo Hernandez and costumes by Paul Tazewell.
Maurice Sendak created the sets and costumes for Houston Grand Opera's production of The Magic Flute, which opens in San Francisco on October 13. Donald Runnicles conducts a cast headed by tenor Piotr Beczala as Tamino and sopranos Rebecca Evans and Dina Kuznetsova alternating in the role of Pamina. Erika Mikl‹sa sings Queen of the Night, Christopher Maltman is Papageno and Georg Zeppenfeld is Sarastro.
Angela Gheorghiu makes her house debut as Magda de Civry in Puccini's La Rondine, which opens November 7. Tenor Misha Didyk sings Ruggero, soprano Anna Christy sings Lisette and tenor Gerard Powers makes his house debut as Prunier. Ion Marin conducts the Nicolas JoêŠl production, a collaboration between the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and the Th_ê¢tre du Capitole de Toulouse.
Verdi's Macbeth stars Thomas Hampson in the title role; soprano Doina Dimitriu makes her company debut as his wife and tenor Carlo Ventre is Macduff. Conductor Massimo Zanetti makes his company debut on the podium for David Pountney's Zurich Opera production, which opens November 14.
Next season also brings Zambello's staging of The Little Prince, which premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2003 and has since been seen in several other cities. This run will be co-produced with Cal Performances and presented at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. It opens on May 2; casting will be announced later.
Canadian director Robert Lepage stages a new co-production (a collaboration with Covent Garden and the major houses in Brussels, Lyon and Madrid) of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, opening November 23. Donald Runnicles conducts William Burden as Tom Rakewell, Laura Aikin as Anne Trulove, Denyce Graves as Baba the Turk and James Morris as Nick Shadow.
The season closes with Lucia di Lammermoor, in the same Mary Zimmerman staging that opens the 2007-08 Metropolitan Opera season. Natalie Dessay takes the title role and tenor Giuseppe Filianoti is Edgardo; both are making house debuts. Jean-Yves Ossonce conducts.