San Francisco Opera

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San Francisco Opera,

opera company, founded 1923 by Italian-American conductor Gaetano Merola, who oversaw its early years as a touring company. In 1932 it established a permanent home at the War Memorial Opera House with an inaugural production of Puccini's Tosca. Leontyne PricePrice, Leontyne
, 1927–, American soprano, b. Laurel, Miss., as Mary Violet Leontine Price. She studied voice at Juilliard with Florence Page Kimball. Subsequently she appeared as Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
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, Elizabeth SchwarzkopfSchwarzkopf, Elisabeth
, 1915–2006, German lyric soprano. After studying music in Berlin she was trained by Maria Ivogün. She sang with the Berlin State Opera (1938–42) and became (1944) principal soprano at the Vienna State Opera.
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, and Birgit NilssonNilsson, Birgit
, 1918–2005, Swedish soprano. Her powerful voice first came to international attention at the Munich Opera, where she was heard (1954–55) as Brünnhilde in Wagner's Die Walküre and in the title role in Strauss's Salome.
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 made their American debuts with the company, and its young artists program has fostered the careers of many stars, including Anna Netrebko, Joyce diDonatto, and Deborah VoigtVoigt, Deborah Joy
, 1960–, American dramatic soprano, b. Des Plaines, Ill., grad. California Staate Univ., Fullerton (1978). She is particularly known for her performances in the operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss.
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. After Merola died in 1953, chorus director Kurt Herbert Adler, who had joined the company in 1943, became artistic director and, in 1957, general director. Matthew Shilvock has led the company since 2016; Nicola Luisotti has been music director since 2009. The company has produced or co-produced many new and innovative operas, including The Death of Klinghoffer (1992), Harvey Milk (1996), and A Streetcar Named Desire (1998).
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