News Archive – 2011

News Archive – 2011

NPR’s ‘Deceptive Cadence’ – Sept. 11 On The Opera Stage: Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart Of A Soldier (NPR, Tom Huizenga)

NPR’s Tom Huizenga interviews composer Christopher Theofanidis about the upcoming world premiere of his opera, Heart of the Soldier, at San Francisco Opera, directed by Francesca Zambello.

Click here to listen to the segment and read the entire article

SF Opera Pays Homage to Man Killed During 9/11 Attack (KTVU News, San Francisco)

“A true story about a man, who gave his life to save thousands of others 9/11, will soon grace the stage of the San Francisco Opera House… American baritone Thomas Hampson returned to San Francisco to sing the lead role of Rick Rescorla, a veteran and security officer killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11… The opera creators said the inspiration behind their newly commissioned work came from a book of the same name “Heart of a Soldier” By Pullitzer Prize winning journalist James Stewart. The book is the biography of Rick Rescorla… “I read this book and I was immediately drawn to the themes of bravery heroism courage, a sense of what does it mean to be an American,” said director Francesca Zambello… In an interview he gave in 1998, Rescorla was chillingly prophetic. “Hunting down terrorists, this will be the nature of war in the future,” he said in an earlier interview. “Not great battle fields, not great tanks rolling.”

Click here to see the segment and read the entire article

Opera Recalls A Hero’s Life, Love and Song (Cori Ellison, The New York Times)

“Having coined the phrase “the banality of evil,” Hannah Arendt went on to suggest that the most heinous crimes have often been committed by morally desensitized ordinary people. The inverse may be equally true: that “ordinary” heroes like Rick Rescorla, who saved almost 2,700 lives on Sept. 11, 2001, only to lose his own, are the yang to Arendt’s yin, demonstrating what you might call the profundity of virtue.

“The story of Rescorla’s heroism during the World Trade Center attacks is the stuff of opera, a hypertheatrical medium that holds a magnifying mirror up to nature. So it’s not entirely surprising that Rescorla’s story will materialize on the stage of the San Francisco Opera in the form of “Heart of a Soldier” beginning on Saturday, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The opera, composed by Christopher Theofanidis to a libretto by Donna DiNovelli, is based on the book of the same title (Simon & Schuster), written in 2002 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart…

Francesca Zambello, the director of “Heart of a Soldier” and an artistic adviser to the San Francisco Opera, as well as the general and artistic director of the Glimmerglass Festival, sensed the theatrical potential of Mr. Stewart’s book immediately. “Though it’s a true and recent story,” she said from San Francisco, where rehearsals had begun, “it has timeless, epic themes: a warrior’s code of honor, the intense bonds of loyalty, late-found love. And it ends in a cataclysm not unlike that of ‘The Ring.’ ” Ms. Zambello recently staged Wagner’s epic cycle, “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” for the San Francisco Opera to great acclaim.” (Click here to read the entire article.)

Washington Opera Names Glimmerglass Chief as Artistic Adviser (Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times)

Francesca Zambello, a busy director of opera and theater and the artistic and executive director of the Glimmerglass Festival, has been appointed artistic adviser of the Washington National Opera — heralding a possible link between the institutions, officials said on Wednesday. The appointment is part of the Washington company’s reorganization as it merges with the Kennedy Center, which was a response to the Washington opera’s financial troubles….Ms. Zambello is also artistic adviser to the San Francisco Opera and is putting on a Ring cycle there. (Click here to read the entire article.)

Francesca Zambello aims to bring ‘a new image’ to Washington National Opera (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post Lifestyle)

The Washington National Opera announced Wednesday the final elements of the leadership team that will guide its first seasons as an official affiliate of the Kennedy Center. The most visible change: The opera’s artistic adviser will be the acclaimed stage director Francesca Zambello.

Zambello, 54, is a savvy opera director with decades of experience at the world’s leading houses and has directed eight productions with the WNO since her debut with Of Mice and Men in 2001. But she is also committed to reaching beyond the traditional opera-going public, be it in film (her Covent Garden production of Carmen was made into a 3-D movie released this year) or on Broadway (where her production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid ran for a year and a half).

Her role at the WNO will include “addressing how to make opera more a part of the city at large,” she said Wednesday from San Francisco, where she is in rehearsals for Wagner’s Ring cycle at the San Francisco Opera. She added, “I want to help make a new image of WNO in its collaboration with the Kennedy Center. I think that collaboration calls out for a new way of approaching [opera] and a new way of selling it.” (Click here to read the entire article.)

WNO appoints Francesca Zambello Artistic Advisor

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Washington National Opera (WNO) today announced that American director Francesca Zambello has been appointed the company’s Artistic Advisor. As Artistic Advisor, Ms. Zambello will offer advice and expertise related to opera repertoire, casting and creative teams, working in close collaboration with Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser, WNO Director of Artistic Operations Christina C. Scheppelmann, WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin and newly appointed Executive Director Michael L. Mael. The Artistic Advisor position is designed to further develop WNO’s artistic profile.

“Francesca Zambello is a highly respected, creative artist, known for her forward-thinking, innovative style. Her deep experience in the international opera community, coupled with her intimate knowledge of Washington audiences, make her an ideal advisor as we work to extend the range of artistic opportunities for WNO,” stated Mr. Kaiser.

Ms. Zambello responded, “I am proud to join the team led by Michael Kaiser of such a world famous cultural center in our nation’s capital. This is a city I love; I love the architecture, the diversity, the atmosphere, the drama. For me, this is the right job at the right time, and I will work to present a rich range of international and national programming and use all of the various venues to produce the finest standards in opera and musical theater. I look forward to working with Michael Kaiser, and the Kennedy Center and WNO staff, to carry on and further the tradition of quality established by Martin Feinstein and continued by Plácido Domingo.”

Francesca Zambello joins Washington National Opera (BBC News – Entertainment & Arts)

Plácido Domingo’s recently vacated post as artistic advisor to the Washington National Opera will be filled by opera director Francesca Zambello.

Zambello advises National Opera as Domingo departs (Brett Zongker, The Washington Examiner)

The Washington National Opera has appointed Francesca Zambello as the company’s artistic adviser as famed tenor Plácido Domingo steps down after 15 years with the opera.

The appointment announced Wednesday comes as the company merges with the Kennedy Center to provide stability after years of financial struggles. Zambello previously worked with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser at London’s Royal Opera House.

“I think that opera has the chance to attract people in ways that we don’t always think about, quite honestly,” she said in an interview. “I’m all about creating productions that are accessible to the audience, that are entertaining, that are storytelling.”

Zambello is a respected director in both opera and musical theater. (Click here to read the entire article.)

Wall Street Journal feature on Francesca Zambello: “Restoring Glimmerglass”

“A nighttime chill still grips the hills around Lake Otsego here, but Francesca Zambello, 54, the new general and artistic director of the Glimmerglass Festival — formerly known as the Glimmerglass Opera, and once one of the most exciting opera companies in the U.S. — is thinking ahead to July and August. She has 40,000 tickets to sell, and most will be bought by people who come from somewhere else. So, in addition to putting her own stamp on the opera programming, much needed after several uninspiring seasons under her predecessor, she is busy rebranding the whole experience. The new “Festival” will encompass ancillary concerts and events as well as operas, and Ms. Zambello is reaching out to merchants and other cultural institutions in the area with the idea that some vigorous collaboration can turn this agricultural corner of upstate New York into a Destination…”

Read the entire article here: The Wall Street Journal: “Restoring Glimmerglass”.

San Francisco Opera’s RING CYCLE, featured in the June 2011 Gramophone

The June 2011 issue of Gramophone magazine leads with San Francisco Opera’s RING CYCLE, directed by Francesca Zambello. Performances begin in War Memorial Opera House on May 29. View the article as a PDF (389 KB).

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit San Francisco Opera’s website.

Francesca Zambello interviewed in the current issue of Das Opernglas

Francesca Zambello is interviewed by James L. Paulk in the current issue of Das Opernglas, which can be read online at their website, or on a PDF here (913 KB PDF).

Carmen in RealD 3D comes to theaters in March 2011

Coming soon to a cinema near you, the world’s most popular opera, Georges Bizet’s CARMEN — for the first time ever in spectacular 3D! A co-production of RealD and London’s Royal Opera House, CARMEN IN 3D gives viewers the best seat in the house, taking them on a magic carpet ride into the heart of the Zambello-directed production — immersing them into this exciting story of love, jealousy and betrayal.

CARMEN IN 3D is a dazzling film, filled with some of the best-loved music ever written — and performed by a world-class cast. With English subtitles throughout, it is the perfect event for life-long opera fans and first-timers alike! Available exclusively in RealD theaters beginning in March 2011.

For more information, and to find a theater near you, visit the Carmen in 3D website:

San Francisco Opera’s new season to include 9/11 opera, Heart of a Soldier (Los Angeles Times’ ‘Culture Monster’ blog, David Ng, 1/18/2011)

The San Francisco Opera announced its 2011-12 season Tuesday, with highlights that include the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, Christopher Theofanidis and Donna Di Novelli’s piece based on events of Sept. 11, 2001. Heart of a Solider (Sept. 10 to 30), which had been previously announced, is based on the nonfiction book by James B. Stewart that tells the story of Rick Rescorla, a retired U.S. Army officer who died on Sept. 11 while assisting in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center site. Baritone Thomas Hampson will play Rescorla in a production directed by Francesca Zambello and conducted by Patrick Summers. The staging will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Glimmerglass Cabin Fever Film Series features Royal Opera House’s Carmen

The seventh annual Cabin Fever Film Series at Glimmerglass begins on Friday, January 7, with a free screening of Carmen at 7:00 p.m. at Fenimore Art Museum. Sponsored by The Glimmerglass Festival, Fenimore Art Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, this season’s series, “Cabin Fever Saves the Day,” features films that include heroes, such as The Incredibles, The Pink Panther and Annie Oakley. The series’ showing of Carmen is the new Royal Opera House production directed by Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello. It is a darkly passionate reading of one of the world’s favorite operas, with Anna Caterina Antonacci and Jonas Kaufmann bringing rare intensity to the drama of Carmen and Done José. The full Cabin Fever Film Series schedule is available at

Zambello to Present Master Class and Discussion at SUNY Oneonta

The Glimmerglass Guild’s Education Committee, in collaboration with the theater and music departments of the State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta), will present a program with Glimmerglass Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello on Wednesday, January 26.

The event will be held on the SUNY Oneonta campus in the Goodrich Theater in the Fine Arts Building. Zambello will present a master class for music students at 3:00 p.m., followed by a “Conversation with Francesca Zambello” at 4:00 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Arrangements have been made for visitors to park in the commuter lot (yellow signs) to the right of the Alumni Field House on Ravine Parkway. The Fine Arts Building is across the road from this lot. A campus map is available on the SUNY Oneonta website.

San Francisco Opera to Present Heart of a Soldier — World Premiere September 10, 2011

San Francisco, CA (December 7, 2010) ­ San Francisco Opera today announced details of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna DiNovelli, starring baritone Thomas Hampson, tenor William Burden and soprano Melody Moore. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera, Heart of a Soldier is based on the critically acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart and the life stories of Susan Rescorla, Rick Rescorla and Daniel J. Hill. The announcement was made at a press conference by San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley and members of the opera’s creative team, including Christopher Theofanidis, Donna DiNovelli, Patrick Summers, Francesca Zambello, James B. Stewart and Susan Rescorla.

Heart of a Soldier will premiere on Saturday, September 10, 2011 — the eve of the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks — as part of the Company’s 2011­12 repertory season. Six additional performances will be presented through September 30 at the historic War Memorial Opera House. San Francisco Opera Artistic Adviser Francesca Zambello will direct this world premiere production and San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The production team includes set designer Peter J. Davison, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projection designer S. Katy Tucker, movement director Rick Sordelet and company chorus director Ian Robertson.

A story of war, love, friendship and heroism, Heart of a Soldier reflects on the extraordinary true story of Rick Rescorla, a man trained to be a consummate warrior who gave up his own life saving thousands in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Inspired by the American soldiers he saw as a boy in Cornwall, England preparing to launch the Normandy invasion on what became D-Day, and his adult friendship with American fighting man Dan Hill, whom he meets in war-torn Rhodesia, Rescorla emigrates to the United States in the early 1960s to become a soldier and a “Yank,” ultimately becoming a decorated platoon leader during the Vietnam War.

On September 11, 2001, as head of security for Morgan Stanley at Two World Trade Center, Rescorla is thrown to the floor when United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. Amidst the unimaginable chaos that ensues, Rescorla uses his commanding presence and booming voice to literally sing his colleagues down smoke-filled stairs and out of the building. While he successfully evacuates all of his company’s 2,700 employees from the South Tower before it collapses, Rescorla makes the ultimate sacrifice when he goes back into the building to search for stragglers. Heart of a Soldier is an opera about a hero who disdains that very term, and about his deep friendship with an American soldier, so unlike him in approach and yet so similar in dedication and bravery.

“When I read James Stewart’s true story of an unsung hero of 9/11, its epic themes of a warrior’s code of honor, intense bonds of loyalty, late-found love and overwhelming tragedy struck me as extremely theatrical,” said Francesca Zambello. “It also takes up ideas and ideals, morals and morality in the context of modern American lives. I have always wanted to create an opera based on a real life story and was very gratified when David Gockley agreed to develop this work with me.”

Heart of a Soldier will be presented as part of San Francisco Opera’s 2011-12 Season in seven performances on September 10, 13, 18, 21, 24, 27 and 30, 2011 at the War Memorial Opera House. Complete details of San Francisco Opera’s 2011­12 Season will be announced in January 2011. Subscription tickets for the 2011­12 Season will go on sale to San Francisco Opera subscribers beginning January 2011; single tickets will go on sale in July 2011. For more information about San Francisco Opera, visit or call the San Francisco Opera Box Office at (415) 864-3330.

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