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     Renowned Soprano Celebrates Her 25th Anniversary with San Francisco Opera

       SAN FRANCISCO (May 12, 2008) — San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley
announced today that soprano Ruth Ann Swenson will receive the San Francisco Opera Medal, the
highest honor awarded by the Company to an artistic professional. Swenson returns to San Francisco
Opera this June as Ginevra in Handel’s Ariodante, in performances marking the acclaimed soprano’s
25th anniversary with the Company. The Opera Medal will be presented to Swenson on stage at the
War Memorial Opera House following the final performance of Ariodante on July 6, 2008. “Ruth Ann
Swenson has had a long and illustrious history with this Company, and we are thrilled to honor her
significant contributions to San Francisco Opera and the performing arts in this way,” said David
       The San Francisco Opera Medal was established by Kurt Herbert Adler in 1970. Ruth Ann
Swenson is the 35th recipient of the Opera Medal. Past honorees include Dorothy Kirsten (1970),
Leontyne Price (1977), Joan Sutherland (1984), Marilyn Horne (1990), Plácido Domingo (1994),
Charles Mackerras (1995), Frederica von Stade (1997), James Morris (2001), Samuel Ramey (2003),
and, most recently, former San Francisco Opera General Director Pamela Rosenberg (2005). A
complete list of Opera Medal recipients follows below.
       Ruth Ann Swenson made her professional debut with San Francisco Opera in June 1983 as
Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte. An alumna of the Merola Opera Program (1981, 1982) and San
Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship (1983, 1984), she has returned to the Company in more
than a dozen major roles, including Nannetta (Falstaff), Gilda (Rigoletto), Juliette (Roméo et Juliette),
Inès (L’Africaine), Adina (L’Elisir d’Amore), Pamina (Die Zauberflöte), Ophélie (Hamlet), Cleopatra
(Giulio Cesare), Violetta (La Traviata), Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro), and the title roles of
Lucia di Lammermoor, Manon, Semele, and The Ballad of Baby Doe.
       The New York native and Napa, California resident made her Metropolitan Opera debut in
1991 as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and in 1993 was awarded the Richard Tucker Music
Foundation Award. She has gone on to appear on all of the world’s major opera stages, winning
critical and public accolades for performances as Marguerite (Faust), Micaëla (Carmen), Mimì (La
Bohème), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Rosina (Il Barbiere di Siviglia),
Elvira (I Puritani), Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), and all three heroines in Les Contes d’Hoffmann at
the Metropolitan Opera; Countess Almaviva, Norina (Don Pasquale), Anne Trulove (The Rake’s
Progress) at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Manon, Gilda, and Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi) at Paris
Opera; Semele and Violetta at Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Constanze (The Abduction from the
Seraglio) at Bavarian State Opera; and Gilda at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. In recent seasons
Swenson has expanded her repertoire with many important new roles such as Amina (La Sonnambula),
the title role of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda, and Amelia Grimaldi (Simon Boccanegra).
       In 2006 Swenson received an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Conservatory of
Music, where she has taught master classes. Diagnosed with breast cancer that same year, she
underwent successful treatment and made a triumphant return to the Metropolitan Opera stage in
March 2007 as Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust. The soprano has become an advocate for breast cancer
research and joined forces with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to utilize her talents on their behalf.
Ms. Swenson’s recent engagements include a concert performance of Maria Stuarda in Lyon and
Paris, The Merry Widow at the Dallas Opera, and La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera. Swenson
makes her 25th-anniversary appearance with San Francisco Opera June 15–July 6, 2008 in the
Company premiere of Ariodante, George Frideric Handel’s rarely staged operatic treasure. Conducted
by Houston Grand Opera Music Director Patrick Summers and directed by John Copley, the
production also stars mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (Ariodante), soprano Veronica Cangemi
(Dalinda), contralto Sonia Prina (Polinesso), tenor Richard Croft (Lurcanio), and bass-baritone Eric
Owens (King of Scotland).

                                     San Francisco Opera Medal Recipients

1970 - Dorothy Kirsten
1972 - Jess Thomas
1973 - Paul Hager (house stage director)
1974 - Colin Harvey (chorister and chorus librarian)
1975 - Otto Guth
       Alexander Fried (San Francisco Examiner music critic)
1976 - Leonie Rysanek
1977 - Leontyne Price
1978 - Kurt Herbert Adler
1980 - Geraint Evans
1981 - Matthew Farruggio (production supervisor and house stage director)
       Birgit Nilsson
1982 - Regina Resnik
1984 - Joan Sutherland
1985 - Thomas Stewart
1987 - Régine Crespin
1988 - Philip Eisenberg (music staff)
1989 - Pilar Lorengar
       Bidú Sayao
1990 - Janis Martin
       Marilyn Horne
1991 - Licia Albanese
1993 - Walter Mahoney (costume shop manager)
1994 - Zaven Melikian (concertmaster)
       Michael Kane (master carpenter)
       Plácido Domingo
1995 - Charles Mackerras
1997 - Frederica von Stade
1998 - Irene Dalis
2001 - Lotfi Mansouri
       James Morris
2003 - Samuel Ramey
2004 - Joe Harris (dresser)
2005 - Pamela Rosenberg
2008 - Ruth Ann Swenson

                                                  – SFO –

For further press information, please visit or contact the San Francisco Opera
Communications department. Robin Yeo 415.565.6451 /


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