San Francisco Opera cancels 2020 season

  • by Jim Provenzano
  • Tuesday June 16, 2020
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Tenor Pene Pati as the Duke of Mantua in San Francisco Opera's "Rigoletto" Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera
Tenor Pene Pati as the Duke of Mantua in San Francisco Opera's "Rigoletto" Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera announced the difficult decision to cancel its Fall 2020 Season due to the ongoing pandemic.

Based on current public health information and state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the fall season —scheduled to open on September 11 with the Opening Night Celebration concert conducted by Music Director Designate Eun Sun Kim— cannot move forward as planned. San Francisco Opera will continue to present virtual events and experiences, stream opera performances from its archives and offer new digital content throughout this period.

San Francisco Opera's General Director Matthew Shilvock said in a press statement, "It is heartbreaking to have to make this announcement today. It will mean a full year without opera on the War Memorial stage and the loss of projects that would have connected powerfully with our world today. It is hard to imagine an opera more resonant than Fidelio, particularly in what would have been a profound interpretation by our Music Director Eun Sun Kim and stage director Matthew Ozawa.

San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock Photo: Kristen Loken/San Francisco Opera  

"We hope to find homes for the new projects of Fidelio, Cos� fan tutte and The Handmaid's Tale in future seasons—they are all operas that speak to the creative potential of San Francisco Opera," said Shilvock. "As painful as this moment is, we remain a company of extraordinarily creative artists, artisans and technicians, dedicated to doing everything we can to bring opera to life in other contexts, whether digitally or live in other venues, as government mandates and critical issues of safety allow. The creative urge to share our art with audiences has never been stronger. I am so grateful to every member of the Opera family for their resilience and belief. We will keep the music alive."

The Fall 2020 Season (September 11 through December 6), was scheduled to include 37 performances of five operas, including a new production of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio, the continuation of the Company's Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy with a new staging of Cos� fan tutte, the highly anticipated West Coast premiere of Poul Ruders' modern masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale and revivals of Verdi's Rigoletto and Puccini's La Boh�me. The free Opera in the Park concert on October 18 and the Adler Fellows' showcase, The Future Is Now, are also cancelled.

San Francisco Opera will not return to the War Memorial Opera House stage until Spring 2021 Season, as planned. Opening on April 25 and running through May 16, the season includes Gioachino Rossini's timeless comedy The Barber of Seville (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), the Company premiere of Alexander Zemlinsky's rarely performed Der Zwerg and concerts starring Lianna Haroutounian and Ir�ne Theorin with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

Virtual events and new digital content will continue to be featured through the Company's 'Opera is ON' platform at, launched in April 2020 to foster continued connections with the San Francisco Opera community and share great artistry worldwide.

The digital venue for engagement with opera features streamed productions from the Company's archives, Spotify playlists, regularly refreshed content including articles and blog posts, and new musical performances. Opera is ON is will continue to expand over the coming months.

In addition, San Francisco Opera's Department of Diversity, Equity and Community and San Francisco Opera Guild have moved many of their education and community programs online; for more information, visit and

Fall season ticketholders will be contacted with options including contributing the value of their tickets as a tax-deductible donation, receiving a gift certificate for the value of their tickets or obtaining a full refund. Ticket holders may also visit sfopera/fall2020 now to select their preferred ticket options. San Francisco Opera is particularly grateful for donations during this challenging time. Patrons who have purchased tickets to Opening Night events including Opera Ball will be contacted about their options, including donations or full refunds.

Tickets for the Spring 2021 Season are currently available on subscription. Single (non-subscription) tickets will go on sale in the fall. Current Spring 2021 Season ticket holders will be contacted later this summer regarding their seating locations.

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