THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY AND CHORUS TO PERFORM SEMI-STAGED by frw22152

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / May 21, 2009


         THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY AND CHORUS TO PERFORM SEMI-STAGED
                  PRODUCTION OF GILBERT & SULLIVAN’S IOLANTHE
                       JUNE 18-21 AT DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL

      New York City Opera Music Director George Manahan to replace Michael Tilson Thomas as
                   conductor; mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle is Queen of the Fairies


(San Francisco, CA - May 21, 2009) - The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) performs a semi-staged version of
Gilbert & Sullivan’s light opera Iolanthe June 18-21 at Davies Symphony Hall. George Manahan, Music
Director of New York City Opera, will conduct in place of San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael
Tilson Thomas who has withdrawn from these concerts. These are the first San Francisco Symphony
performances of Iolanthe.

Iolanthe (Sasha Cooke) is a fairy who married a mortal – an unforgiveable sin. The couple has fathered a half
mortal-half fairy son, Strephon (Lucas Meachem), who himself is in a love predicament. The woman who
loves him, Phyllis (Sally Matthews) cannot marry him without consent from the Lord Chancellor (Richard
Suart) – who in turn loves Phyllis. In a twist only likely in real life, Lord Chancellor also turns out to be
Iolanthe’s former husband, and the father of Strephon.

To circumvent all the legal, moral and ethical complications that would necessarily ensue if love could follow
its natural, uncontrollable course, Lord Chancellor decides to simply alter the law by inserting a key word:
―don’t.‖ The absurd new rule: ―Every fairy shall die who don’t marry a mortal.‖ In this funny and acerbic
sendup of the war between the sexes and its merciless skewering of the House of Lords and English law, Lord
Chancellor himself is conveniently reunited with Iolanthe. Phyllis and Strephon are free to marry each other, a
suitable husband turns up for the Queen of the Fairies (Joyce Castle, replacing Felicity Palmer), and everyone
flits away, happily ever after.

Iolanthe was first produced in 1882, opening the renowned Savoy Theater in London. It followed the Gilbert
& Sullivan successes of H.M.S. Pinafore (1878) and The Pirates of Penzance (1879). Sullivan’s music
encompasses influences from Verdi’s Aida to Mozart’s big finales, heard in the finale of Iolanthe’s Act I, and
musical highlights including songs such as ―Oh, foolish fay,‖ which music scholar Michael Steinberg calls
―perhaps Sullivan’s most beautiful song.‖ Lord Chancellor’s nightmare is the most well-known number in the
operetta, and his patter song, de rigeur for Sullivan’s comic baritone leads, is perhaps the most full-realized of
all these pieces. Iolanthe’s plea on behalf of her son, ―He loves!‖, is another memorable musical and dramatic
highlight.

Iolanthe is staged by the award-winning theater and film director and choreographer Patricia Birch, who also
staged the SFS’s productions of The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater
(2005 and 2008); Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol, and George and Ira Gershwin’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake and Of Thee I
Sing (2005). Scenic designer Douglas Schmidt (The Thomaskefskys, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Let ‘Em Eat
Cake and Of Thee I Sing), is creating the sets. Kirk Bookman, the lighting designer for the above-mentioned


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productions, does the lighting for Iolanthe. The costume designer is Dona Granata, who also costumed the
Gershwin and Stravinsky pieces as well as The Thomashefskys.

Michael Tilson Thomas expressed disappointment that he would be unable to conduct the concerts. ―This year
continues to be filled with many extraordinary demands on my Symphony schedule, and after much
deliberation, I have concluded with great regret that I should entrust the rigorous demands of overseeing a
staged production, Gilbert & Sullivan’s marvelous Iolanthe, to New York City Opera’s George Manahan. My
regret, however, is tempered by the knowledge that our audience—and Gilbert & Sullivan’s delightful work—
will be served so well, under the leadership of an artist steeped in the tradition of opera and musical theater.‖

George Manahan, in his eleventh season as Music Director at New York City Opera, has conducted repertoire
ranging from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. He first conducted the San
Francisco Symphony during 1989’s New and Unusual Music series. He returned in 1991 to lead the Orchestra
in concerts of the music of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Stravinsky. In additional to regular guest appearances
with major national and international orchestras and opera companies, he served as acting Music Director of
the New Jersey Symphony for four seasons, principal conductor for Minnesota Opera, and music director of
the Richmond Symphony. He was chosen as the Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the New Jersey
Symphony and debuted with the Santa Fe Opera conducting the American premiere of Arnold Schoenberg’s
opera Von Heute Auf Morgen. He has conducted numerous world premieres, including Wuorinen’s Haroun
and the Sea of Stories, Tobias Picker’s Emmeline and many others. Manahan’s many appearances on television
include productions of La bohème, Lizzie Borden, and Tosca on PBS. Live from Lincoln Center’s telecast of
New York City Opera’s production of Madama Butterfly under his direction won a 2007 Emmy Award.

Mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, who sings the role of Queen of the Fairies in this production, replaces Felicity
Palmer, who withdrew for health reasons. Castle last appeared with the SFS in 1996, when she sang On the
Town, by Bernstein, Comden and Green. Bass Robert Lloyd (Private Willis) appeared with the SFS in
Wagner’s Act III from Parsifal in 1984 and in Dvořák’s Stabat Mater in 1979. All the other singers are
making their debuts with the Orchestra.

WHO:             George Manahan, conductor                               (Click here for bio.)
                 Sally Matthews - Phyllis – soprano                      (Click here for bio.)
                 Ginger Costa-Jackson - Celia – soprano                  (Click here for bio.)
                 Sasha Cooke - Iolanthe - mezzo-soprano                  (Click here for bio.)
                 Joélle Harvey - Leila - mezzo-soprano                   (Click here for bio.)
                 Katherine Lerner - Fleta - mezzo-soprano
                 Joyce Castle - Queen of the Fairies - mezzo-soprano*     (Click here for bio.)
                 Alfie Boe - Thomas, Earl of Tolloller– tenor            (Click here for bio.)
                 Richard Suart - Lord Chancellor – baritone              (Click here for bio.)
                 Lucas Meachem - Strephon – baritone                     (Click here for bio.)
                 Paul Whelan - George, Earl of Mountararat – baritone    (Click here for bio.)
                 Robert Lloyd - Private Willis – bass                    (Click here for bio.)
                 San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Ragnar Bohlin, director (Click here for press kit.)
                 San Francisco Symphony
                 San Francisco Ballet dancers — The Fairies
                 Patricia Birch, director
                 Douglas Schmidt, scenic designer
                 Kirk Bookman, lighting designer
                 Dona Granata, costume designer
                     *replacing Felicity Palmer

PROGRAM:         Gilbert & Sullivan / Iolanthe (semi-staged)




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WHEN AND WHERE:        Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 18, 19 and 20 at 8:00 p.m.
                       Sunday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m.
                       Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

PRE-CONCERT TALKS:     Scott Foglesong gives ―Inside Music‖ talks one hour prior to each concert. Free to
                       all concert ticket holders; doors open 15 minutes before.

POST-CONCERT Q&A:      The SFS invites audience members to participate in Off the Podium, an
                       informal post-concert question and answer session with George
                       Manahan and members of the cast of Iolanthe immediately following
                       the concert on Saturday, June 20.

TICKETS:               $35-$130, available through the SFS Box Office at (415) 864-6000, or at
                       sfsymphony.org.




                    These concerts are made possible through the generosity of
                     The Barbro and Bernard Osher Staged Production Fund.

                  Infiniti is the official vehicle of the San Francisco Symphony.



                                              -SFS-




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