Arguably the greatest living American composer of classical music and opera, John Adams, continues creating from his home in Berkeley, and his latest opera, Antony and Cleopatra, will have its premiere in San Francisco in September.
As the Associated Press reports, Adams, who turns 75 this month, will present the sixth full-length opera of his career to open the 100th season of the San Francisco Opera. Antony and Cleopatra, based in part on the Shakespeare play of the same name, was commissioned by SF Opera for its centennial, and it's the first opera by Adams to premiere at SF Opera since 2017's Girls of the Golden West.
The libretto, which was written by Adams with consultation by Elkhanah Pulitzer and Lucia Scheckner, also draws on material by Plutarch and Virgil.
In the San Francisco world premiere, conducted by SF Opera Musical Director Eun Sun Kim, Julia Bullock will sing the role of Cleopatra, baritone Gerald Finley will play Mark Antony, and tenor Paul Appleby will play Julius Caesar.
The story of Cleopatra, her affair with Mark Antony, her and Antony's defeat by Caesar at the Battle of Actium, and their subsequent tragic ends before Caesar can parade a humiliated Cleopatra through Rome, is of course the stuff of opera. And opera fans are no doubt eagerly awaiting this premiere.
Opening night will be September 10, 2022, which will mark the opening of the opera season — which also includes rarely performed works like Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten (with a set by David Hockney), and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Find tickets here.
Adams, who once gave an interview to SFist, holds a Pulitzer Prize in music for his 2003 piece for chorus and orchestra, On the Transmigration of Souls — a piece commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the lives lost on September 11th. Adams's first opera, Nixon in China (1987) continues to be performed worldwide and is widely acclaimed. His 2005 opera Doctor Atomic, about Manhattan Project physicist Robert Oppenheimer, remains a high point of the last two decades in American opera.