John Adams Unveils Antony and Cleopatra in September
John Adams’s new opera, Antony and Cleopatra, debuts this fall at San Francisco Opera, led by Music Director Eun Sun Kim.The opera is a co-commission and co-production with San Francisco Opera, Barcelona’s Liceu Opera, Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, and the Metropolitan Opera.
On September 10–October 5, 2022, John Adams’s new opera, Antony and Cleopatra, premieres at San Francisco Opera, opening the Company’s 2022–2023 Centennial Season. The opera is a co-commission and co-production with San Francisco Opera, Barcelona’s Liceu Opera, Palermo’s Teatro Massimo, and the Metropolitan Opera.
With a libretto in English adapted by the composer from Shakespeare’s tragedy with supplementary passages from Plutarch, Virgil, and other classical texts, Adams, director Elkhanah Pulitzer, and dramaturg Lucia Scheckner blend the mythic imagery of antiquity with the starry glamour of 1930s Hollywood. Pulitzer heads a production team of Tony Award–winning set designer and MacArthur Fellow Mimi Lien, costume designer Constance Hoffman, lighting designer David Finn, projection designer Bill Morrison, and sound designer and mixing engineer Mark Grey.
Antony and Cleopatra adds a new chapter to Adams’s long-running connection with San Francisco Opera. Doctor Atomic (2005) and Girls of the Golden West (2017) were commissioned by the Company and had their world premieres at the War Memorial Opera House, while The Death of Klinghoffer, a San Francisco Opera co-commission, and Nixon in China were presented there in 1992 and 2012, respectively.
“I am proud to continue my longstanding collaboration with the great San Francisco Opera with this, the fourth opera of mine the company has presented over the years. Antony and Cleopatra is a story that embraces not only the intimate and human but also the geopolitical and the clash of civilizations. As is always the case with Shakespeare, its themes mirror the realities of life even as we live it at this very moment.”
San Francisco Opera Music Director Eun Sun Kim leads the world premiere of the composer’s newest stage work, a searing journey into legend with the propulsive rhythms, evocative colors, and storytelling power that have distinguished Adams’s operas, symphonic music, concertos, and chamber works for more than four decades.
Egyptian-born, New Zealand soprano Amina Edris will create the role of Cleopatra. One of today’s fast-rising opera stars, Edris was a 2016–2017 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and has starred as Juliette in the Company’s 2019 production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, opposite the Roméo of her husband, tenor Pene Pati. (Edris replaces Julia Bullock, who has withdrawn from the production. Bullock and her husband, conductor Christian Reif, are expecting the birth of their first child this fall. While Bullock will not debut the role in San Francisco, she remains connected with the project for future engagements.)
Gerald Finley, an acclaimed Adams role creator for his performances as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Doctor Atomic, brings his “unfailingly elegant baritone” (New York Times) to the Roman general and triumvir, Antony. “Bold and ardent” (Mercury News) in his 2015 Company debut as Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, tenor Paul Appleby, who later created Joe Cannon in Girls of the Golden West, is the young Caesar, Octavius. Bass-baritone Alfred Walker is Antony’s confidante Enobarbus and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong portrays Octavia, Caesar’s sister and the wife of Antony.
Antony and Cleopatra
By John Adams
Libretto by John Adams from Shakespeare with supplementary passages from Plutarch, Virgil, and other classical texts. Libretto consultation by Elkhanah Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner.
San Francisco Opera
War Memorial Opera House
September 10, 15, 18 (2pm), 23, 27; October 2 (2pm), 5, 2022
All shows begin at 7:30pm, unless otherwise noted.
Learn more at sfopera.com/Cleopatra.
Cleopatra, Amina Edris
Antony, Gerald Finley
Caesar, Paul Appleby
Enobarbus, Alfred Walker
Octavia, Elizabeth DeShong
Charmian, Taylor Raven
Eros, Brenton Ryan
Agrippa, Hadleigh Adams
Conductor, Eun Sun Kim
Director and Libretto Advisor, Elkhanah Pulitzer
Set Designer, Mimi Lien
Costume Designer, Constance Hoffman
Lighting Designer, David Finn
Projection Designer, Bill Morrison
Sound Designer and Mixing Engineer, Mark Grey
Dramaturg, Lucia Scheckner
Chorus Director, John Keene
Choreographer/Dance Master, Colm Seery
Fight Director, Dave Maier
> Further information on Work: Antony and Cleopatra
Photo: Kristen Loken