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SFCM Opera presents Proving Up
Friday, March 8 2024, 07:30 PM at

SFCM Opera presents Proving Up

Friday, March 8 2024, 07:30 PM


Proving Up
Composed by Missy Mazzoli, Libretto by Royce Vavrek 

Director Elkhanah Pulitzer and conductor Steven Osgood join the SFCM Opera department for a production of Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up. Adapted from the short story by Karen Russell, this gripping opera is told through the story of Nebraska homesteaders in the 1870s who are trying to achieve the ultimate American dream. Elkhanah Pulitzer is known for her bold and innovative stage direction, having directed projects with major orchestras, and opera and theatre companies. Steven Osgood has conducted the world premieres of over 20 operas, and is the General and Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Opera Company.


Proving Up is an opera about the American dream, told through the story of Nebraskan homesteaders in the 1870s. A family dreams of “proving up” and obtaining the deed to the land they’ve settled. They obsessively list the requirements of the Homestead Act: five years of harvest, a sod house dwelling, and perhaps the most elusive element–a glass window. With their eldest son incapacitated, Ma and Pa Zegner send their youngest living child, Miles, on a mission to share the valuable commodity with their distant neighbors who are expecting a visit from a government inspector. Miles mounts his gray mare with the window wrapped in burlap and gallops across the land. The elements, natural and otherwise, have other plans, and Miles comes face to face with a strange man who turns out to be the ghost of a neighboring farmer, driven mad by the requirements of “proving up.” The willowy figure knows all too well the cost of the American dream, and the window soon becomes a broken mirror reflecting great tragedy.

Content Warning: This piece is intended for mature audiences and contains depictions of violence/murder by various means.


Role: March 8, March 9

Miles Zegner: Shiddharth Chand, Jonathan Smucker*
Mr. Johannes “Pa” Zegner: Samuel Downes, Gabriel Manro**
Mrs. Johannes “Ma” Zegner: Alissa Goretsky, Erica Thelen
Littler Daughter: Camryn Finn, Hyesoo Kim
Taller Daughter: Leah Finn, Cambria Metzinger
The Sodbuster: Joseph Calzada, Tony DeLousia
Peter Zegner: Charles McGregor

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Friday, March 8 2024, 07:30 PM to Friday, March 8 2024, 09:30 PM

About SFCM’s Opera and Musical Theatre Program

The SFCM Opera and Musical Theatre program draws exceptionally talented young singers from around the world and provides them with advanced training in vocal style, acting, stage movement, and other essentials of stagecraft. Each year, SFCM produces four fully staged opera and musical theatre productions with full or chamber orchestra. Recent fully staged operas have included L’elisir d’amore, Don Giovanni, Mansfield Park, Postcard from Morocco, The Rake’s Progress, Così fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro, and former faculty composer Conrad Susa’s Transformations. SFCM has hosted workshops for in-development opera projects such as Mason Bates’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs and Jake Heggie’s Great Scott.

In addition to fully staged productions, a number of scenes, programs, and other performances with piano accompaniment are presented each year. Opera students also have an opportunity to receive coaching from San Francisco Opera music staff, and to participate in productions tailored for school-age audiences in collaboration with San Francisco Opera’s Education Department.

SFCM’s Musical Theatre Workshop provides ensemble experience to singer/actors with an emphasis on American musical theatre, examining one or more musical theatre composers and their works through rehearsals and performance. Recent performances include such works as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, She Loves Me, Company, Little Women, Urinetown, and The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!).

Visiting artists have included Ryan Taylor (General Director, Minnesota Opera), Roy Rallo (Stage Director, San Francisco Opera), David Maier (Fight Director, San Francisco Opera), Barbara Scott (Improvisation Technique), Matt Chapman (Laban Technique), and Jose Luis Moscovich (General Director, West Bay Opera).

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