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Which promises to be UNIQUE
By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: S.F. Opera

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The upcoming San Francisco Opera's Centennial Season may only be described as Unique. The perfect mix of well-established productions of previous operas, and the premiers of fresh works with new sounds, themes and magic. In their creation, participated two excellent opera composers. One of them, John Adams, introducing to us his Anthony and Cleopatra. and   Gabriela Lena Frank in a poetic masterpiece of imagination, The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, an opera based on the life of Frida Kahlo,

Commissioned by the San Francisco Opera to celebrate its One hundred years of being founded, composer John Adams, who is turning 75 this year, and is still considered one of the greatest living composers of classical music and operas, will open the Centennial season of the San Francisco Opera on September, 2022 with Anthony and Cleopatra, his newest and the sixth full-length opera of his career.

The libretto of Anthony and Cleopatra the opera set in Egypt, relates the story of Cleopatra's affair with Mark Anthony and Anthony's defeat by Caesar at the Battle of Actium, and his subsequent tragic end. before Caesar parades a humiliated Cleopatra through Rome for everybody to mock her.>

The opera is based, in part, on Shakespeare's first folio Tragedy, The Tragedy of Anthony and Cleopatra, but Adams' libretto, which he wrote with consultation with Elhanan Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner, also draws material from Plutarch, the Greek Platonist philosopher, and from Virgil, the Roman poet best known for his Latin epic poem The Aeneid.

The world premiere, of the opera Anthony and Cleopatra will be  conducted by the San Francisco's Opera's orchestra, directed by its  Musical Director Eun Sun Kim, and sang by American Soprano Julia Bullock singing the role of Cleopatra, Canadian Bass baritone Gerald Finley singing the role of  Mark Anthony, and American tenor Paul Appleby singing the role of  Julius Caesar. Its opening night will be September 10, 2022 which mark the opening of the opera season.

The second new work that he San Francisco Opera will be presenting for its Centennial, will be Gabriela Lyna Frank's The Last Dream of Frida and Diego. which was Commissioned by the Fort Worth Opera, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, and DePauw University School of Music with generous support from the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts, This magical opera is a mixture of reality and fantasy.

Set in 1957, the opera opens in a Cemetery in Mexico on the night of October 31st, which is called in Mexico as El Dia de Los Muertos (The day of the dead) and is the day when people honors their dead relatives by arranging what they call an Altar in their homes.

The Altar (altar) is usually a dinning-room-size table, covered with a fancy table cloth, on top of  which they place one of several photographs of those who had died in their families, different items that belonged to them, candle holders with lighted candles, flower pots with marigold flowers,(considered in Mexico the flower of the dead) and paper maché flowers of different colors, made by hand, and usually one, or more, small  statues of skeletons which in Mexico are that day called "Catrinas" because these skeletons are elegantly dressed, like dolls, the male skeletons with suits, suits, and the female skeletons with long silk attire and even jewelry.. Some people even cook and prepare the food dishes preferred by those diseased and puts them on plates on top of the altar, because the general believe is that on that night, the spirits of those diseased are allowed to return to earth for a few hours to visit their living relatives. Also as part of the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos, the family members spend the night of October 31 in the cemetery,on the tomb where their relatives are resting. praying, crying, and remembering those who were part of their families. Because of it, on that night, in Mexico, most cemeteries are opened all night

As an opera, The Last Dream of Frida and Diego's is a poetic fantasy. Its Cast is small: There is Catrina (death) a soprano, Frida, sang by a mezzo-soprano, Diego, by a Baritone. and the character of Leonardo, by a Countertenor, three soloists and chorus. But the plot of the Opera and the way it is presented to the audience, is poetry in music.

The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, opens on the Dia de Los Muertos, at night with a group of people praying around Frida's tomb. As they sing and pray, the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, who in the opera is still alive, walks among the mourners just as they prepare for the spirit of Frida to return to the world, singing with joy, and surrounded by sugar-coated skulls, (the candies called calaberitas) and candles, and fragrant marigold flowers. When Diego joins them, he tells them that he had come to the cemetery on that night because he longs to see his deceased lover Frida Kahlo once again and talks to her before he passes on.

Then, we move to the afterlife where all the death are getting ready to come to earth and Catrina (la muerte) who is the keeper of their souls and is represented by a woman's skeleton elegantly dressed in silk clothes and wearing ribbons, and jewelry around her bony neck, calls the soul of Frida and explains to it that Diego is waiting for her at the cemetery to return to earth because he cannot live much longer without her, because she always was his angel, and now that the seeds of death are sprouting within him, and he is alone in life, he needs her even more. So, Frida, moved by her love for Diego and by the lamentations of those praying for her and pleading to her to give Diego a chance to see her again, reluctantly, agrees to return to life for a few hours and join Diego.

But because the dead cannot touch the living, and they won't be able to share their passion for each other as they did when they were alive, her soul, will only be able to join Diego for twenty-four hours, and they will be able to relieve their tumultuous love, their passion, and even the pain that once they inflicted upon each other, but... only through their mutual paintings.

In The Last Dream of Frida and Diego, Composer Gabriela Lyna Frank, reveal in this opera: the indigenous rituals of her country, its legends, their faith. their belief in the afterlife, and the passionate love of a Mexican couple. in poetry.. In other words, "The Mexican Spirit".



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The San Francisco Opera has been recognized as one of the world's leading opera companies since its founding in 1923. The Company remains a vital artistic institution through it main stage programming, renowned artist training programs and repertory-expanding commissions, including John Adams' Doctor Atomic and Girls of the Golden West, Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking. André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire and Bright Sheng's Dream of the Red Chamber.

Under the leadership of General Director Matthew Shilvock, San Francisco Opera continues to pioneer new approaches to producing large-scale opera in the 21st century and creating impactful, reciprocal connection with the community. In the fall of 2021 conductor Eun Sun Kim began her tenure as San Francisco Opera's fourth music director and in partnership with Matthew Shilvock, will lead the Company through the 2022-2023 Centennial Season and into the future.