MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

San Francisco Opera: Streaming the First Century

Now that San Francisco Opera has officially launched it 100th-anniversary season — with John Adams’s new opera Antony and Cleopatra, which I’ll be covering soon — the company is also celebrating its remarkable history with a curated series of selected historical recordings. Called Streaming the First Century, this new online hub provides free access to selected historic recordings from the SFO’s past century, along with rare artist interviews, archival photographs, program articles, oral history excerpts, and newly captured conversations among past and present San Francisco Opera creative luminaries.

Streaming the First Century sessions are being released for each month from September through December. Each session includes two complete historic recordings, audio excerpts from four additional performances, and introductions to each preserved audio experience by contemporary scholars, artists, and SFO members to add historical context and insights. The selection have been drawn from performances unique to San Francisco Opera and are not available on commercial recordings.

The themes of the 2022–23 season have been used to guide the selections. Session 1: Slavic Sensibilities pays homage to Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which returns to the stage later this month (25 September–14 October), by offering an in-depth exploration of the works of Czech and Russian composers through landmark San Francisco Opera performances.

The complete recordings for Session 1: Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa, from a 1980 broadcast starring Swedish soprano Elisabeth Söderström and Sena Jurinac as the stepmother (San Francisco Opera’s first production of a Czech opera in the original language ); and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, from a 1981 broadcast starring Anja Silja as Katerina Ismailova.

Coming up on 10 October is Session 2: Parlez-vous français? — which will have a French focus, in tandem with the upcoming production of Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Filed under: music history, music news, San Francisco Opera


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