There's good news and bad news at the San Francisco Opera. The West's oldest opera company, financially pinched by the weak economy, has announced a scaled-back schedule for 2003-04, with nine productions instead of the 12 for the current season. But some of what's scheduled is adventurous, rarely performed work, including operas by Janacek, Busoni, Shostakovich, and Virgil Thompson with Gertrude Stein.
General director Pamela Rosenberg has spoken of her ambitions for unorthodox material, but since her arrival in 2001, she's had to keep the company's belt tight. Last fall, she canceled a scheduled production of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Le Coq d'Or" for the '03-'04 season.
Thompson and Stein's piece, "The Mother of Us All," a 1947 opera never performed by the company, will open the season Sept. 6 through 26. Luana DeVol will play Susan B. Anthony, with staging by Christopher Alden and music director Donald Runnicles conducting.
Janacek's "The Cunning Little Vixen" (June 11-July 1, 2004) will mark the company stage debut for soprano Dawn Upshaw, and the season will include an appearance by bass Thomas Hampson in "Barber" and baritone Rodney Gilfry in "Doktor Faust" (June 15-July 3, 2004).
The rest of the season includes Mozart's "The Magic Flute," Sept. 9-Oct. 3; Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana" with Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci," Sept. 19-Oct. 17; Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," Oct. 7-Nov. 23 and Jan. 9-17, 2004; Verdi's "Don Carlos," Oct. 26-Nov. 19; Shostakovich's "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" on Nov. 9-22; and Puccini's "La Boheme," Jan. 6-18 and June 5-July 2, 2004.