San Francisco Opera

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 Price, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, and Birgit Nilsson 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 Voigt. 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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