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San Francisco Opera Announces New Season (yawn).

With opera companies booking singers and productions four to five years in advance, season announcements come as something of a pro-forma ritual with little actual news. The SF Opera season announcement came this week with no surprises, so, here it is:

Rigoletto – 12 performances 9/7 – 9/30
I Capuletti e i Montecchi – 6 performances 9/29-10/19
Moby Dick (Heggie) – 8 Performances 10/10 – 11/2
Lohengrin – 7 Performances 10/20 – 11/9
Tosca – 12 performances 11/15-12/2

Oh, and there’s a spring season of three operas in 2013. Actually, we should start with the operas that are coming up, which were officially announced way back in January 2011.

Nixon in China – 7 performances 6/8 – 7/3
Atilla – 6 performances 6/12 – 7/1
Die Zauberflöte – 9 performances 6/13 – 7/8

Presented this way instead of introducing a six month gap for productions seventeen months from now, the season seems far more balanced. The casts are generally excellent or at least loud enough, and the productions are generally cheap, undersized, predictable, and borrowed from or co-produced by companies in Houston, San Diego, Calgary, Vancouver, Omaha, Charleston, and Kansas City. The (excellent) Tosca production we’ve seen before…many times.

The sole exception is Bellini’s I Capuletti, a co-production with the Bavarian State Opera directed by the very creative Frenchman Vincent Boussard. It, of course, has the fewest performances. The big losers are Baroque/early opera, French opera, Russian opera, Strauss, and early and mid 20th century modernism from anywhere.

In evaluating a season, it is good to ask is there something truly “special” – something I would want to fly across the country to see – something I would never get to hear again in my lifetime – something that isn’t routine and superior in Germany’s 80+ professional companies – something to justify the ticket prices on my budget?

I don’t see it.