Music News & Reviews

Opera to return in Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera 2016-17 season

Alice Sauro, executive director of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.
Alice Sauro, executive director of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera. Sacramento

The Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera has announced it will present its first opera in two years, as part of a slate of six concerts and three pops concerts for its 2016-17 season.

The new season opens Oct. 8 with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Britten’s Violin Concerto, featuring violinist Karen Goymo. The season ends on April, 29, 2017, with a still-to-be-defined performance of Verdi’s “La Traviata,” conducted by Jose-Luis Gomez.

The philharmonic’s pops series opens Nov. 28, with “Classical Mystery Tour,” a tribute to the Beatles featuring members of the original cast of Broadway’s “Beatlemania,” and concludes with “A Beach Boys Celebration” on April 8, 2017.

The programming for the new season doesn’t stray far from the warhorse works of the symphonic repertoire. The only exception is Toru Takemitsu’s “Quotation of Dream,” slated for Feb. 25 in a concert with pianist Peter Serkin performing. That program also will see works by Bach and Beethoven. All performances will be held at Sacramento’s Community Center Theater.

“We wanted to continue the path that we set this season – of bringing classical music back to the region with exciting conductors and performers,” said Alice Sauro, executive director of the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.

The biggest development is the focus on presenting opera again in Sacramento. Aside from “La Traviata,” the orchestra also will present a night of operatic repertoire on Nov. 12.

The orchestra made its comeback performance in June 2015 after not presenting in 2014-15. It merged with the Sacramento Opera in 2013 under an umbrella organization called the Sacramento Performing Arts Alliance to stay economically viable amid declining attendance, shaky finances and a changing arts patronage landscape.

However, the Sacramento Opera went dark this season, and also did not present in 2014-15.

“We wanted to include more opera elements this year because we heard from our opera fans that they were ready for it,” Sauro said.

Although a conductor has been booked, a cast has not been announced. It’s also unclear what kind of opera performance will be given.

“I can’t answer whether ‘La Traviata’ will be a fully staged opera at this time,” Sauro said. “I do not want to over-promise and under-deliver.”

She said the organization will talk with opera fans to gauge whether there’s enough support for the art form. “We need to know how to proceed. We need to understand to what level there is support from the community,” Sauro said.

In 2016-17, the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera will operate on a $1.7 million budget and a staff of two full-time employees, including Sauro.

The season will continue to invite a round robin of conductors instead of relying on one music director. Conductors Andrés Cárdenes, Andrew Grams and Michelle Merrill return in 2016-17 to lead the orchestra.

The philharmonic also is considering opening up the hiring process to find a permanent music director, Sauro said.

Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera 2016-17 season


Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016

Benjamin Britten – Violin Concerto

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5

Michael Christie, conductor, Karen Gomyo, violin

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016

Giuseppe Verdi – Dramatic moments from “La Forza del destino” “Otello,” and “Un ballo in maschera”

Pietro Mascagni – “Intermezzo” from “Cavalleria rusticana”

Giacomo Puccini – “La Boheme” Act I finale

Gioachino Rossini – music from “Semiramide”

Ottorino Respighi – “The Pines of Rome”

Christoph Campestrini, conductor; Katherine Whyte, soprano; Adam Luther, tenor

Saturday, Jan. 21, 2016

Gioachino Rossini“L’italiana in Algeri” overture

Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 101, “Clock”

Antonio Vivaldi – “The Four Seasons”

Andrés Cárdenes, conductor and violin

Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017

Toru Takemitsu – “Quotation of Dream”; Johann Sebastian Bach – Double Keyboard Concerto; Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 7

Andrew Grams, conductor; Peter Serkin, piano; Julia Hsu, piano

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 4 and Violin Concerto

Michelle Merrill, conductor, Chee-Yun Kim, violin

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Giuseppe Verdi – “La Traviata”

José -Luis Gomez, conductor


Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016

Classical Mystery Tour – Featuring a full Beatles cover band

Martin Herman, conductor

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017

The Music of David Bowie : A Rock Symphony

Brent Havens, conductor

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pet Sounds Live: A Beach Boys Celebration

Jeffrey Reed, conductor

INFORMATION: (916) 808-5080 or

All performances at 8 p.m. at the Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento. Pops-only and classical-only subscriptions will be available.