The likely high point of the celebrations of Philip Glass's 70th birthday year arrives this evening at War Memorial Opera House, as San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Appomattox, the composer's 12th full-scale opera.
Appomattox, commissioned by San Francisco Opera and general manager David Gockley in honor of the composer's birthday, examines the lead-up to the end of the U.S. Civil War, the South's surrender to the North at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, and the characters of Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. A selection of photos from the premiere production, directed by theater luminary Robert Woodruff in his company debut, is offered below.
The libretto is by Academy Award- and Tony Award-winning playwright Christopher Hampton; longtime Glass champion Dennis Russell Davies will conduct. Baritones Dwayne Croft and Andrew Shore take the roles of Lee and Grant, with much of the rest of the cast drawn from the current ranks of Adler Fellows, members of San Francisco Opera's young artists program.
Following tonight's premiere, there are six further performances of Appomattox at the War Memorial Opera House through October 24. At that final performance, Brian Leerhuber, who created the role of Tom Joad in Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath this past season, will take the role of Gen. Lee, and on the podium will be Sara Jobin, who is 2004 became the first woman to conduct in San Francisco Opera's main subscription season.
For more information on Appomattox, visit www.sfopera.com.