In the upcoming issue of Opera magazine, John Rockwell (veteran New York
Times critic, editor, and former director of the Lincoln Center Festival)
writes about Pamela Rosenberg on the occasion of her becoming the fifth
general manager of the San Francisco Opera on Aug. 1.
"Most profiles in this magazine are written with a certain detachment,"
Rockwell writes, "not this one. I have known Pamela for more than 35
years, ever since she was a student of mine in cultural history at the
University of California in Berkeley."
Rockwell goes on to defend Rosenberg against "charges of (being) wasteful
and immoral" when canceling (and paying for) commissions and contracts
agreed to by her predecessor, Lotfi Mansouri. (A topic I explored at
length on www.sfcv.org in the Spring, although not in terms Rockwell uses
- most likely in jest.)
"In recent years under Mansouri," Rockwell writes, "the SFO has presented
several commissioned premieres, notably Harvey Milk, Dangerous Liaisons,
Streetcar Named Desire, and Dead Man Walking. While most of these have
proved fairly popular, they have not as yet conquered the world in multiple
international productions nor won widespread critical respect. Pamela's
tastes are different, less melodramatic and more modernistically intense.
"Thus early on, she chose not to proceed with a second commission to Andre
Previn. Previn hadn't composed his score when Pamela canceled it, and a
settlement has now been worked out... (Those critical of the cancelation)
forget that one of Mansouri's first acts was to cancel a premiere
commissioned by Terence McEwen of Hugo Weisgall's Esther, a modernist
opera that had been fully composed and has since gone on to critical
acclaim at the NYCO (though not as yet revived there)." [My recollection
is that Esther was not completed when McEwen canceled the commission.]
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