[From the 1/10 SFCV.org Music News]
Opera's heroes - Parsifal, Siegfried, Max, Calaf, Bunyan - are
powerful and decisive, but typically none too bright. San Francisco
Opera's new general manager and resident hero-to-be, David
Gockley, hits the ground running, swinging an imaginary Nothung,
but he also makes a lot of sense.
Over past decades, three of Gockley's predecessors were asked
repeatedly why San Francisco has no broadcasts or recording,
when smaller companies - such as Seattle or Gockley's Houston
Grand Opera - does. Ask the same question from Gockley, at his
very first news conference today, and there are no excuses of
"artist fees and unions." Instead, a simple and forceful promise:
"We will broadcast within a year. I am also setting up a
high-definition digital video studio to record and distribute
our work on websites, iPods, etc. Electronic media is the way
of the future - with the agreement of our union partners - and
what saves the art form... and jobs."
Decisiveness, of course, can also go the way not to everybody's
liking. Instead of hemming and hawing about yet another
postponement of the long-awaited production of Berlioz's "Les
Troyens," Gockley said - with regret but finality - that "budget
and casting difficulties" have forced him to cancel the project.
Gockley took over the job from Pamela Rosenberg only 10 days ago
officially, but at his press conference today, he announced a
new season, and a wealth of news that must have taken months or
years of work to prepare. "For long," he said, "it's been a dream
of mine to head up this company."
Besides the unexpected extension of the next season to 10
productions; the appointment of Francesca Zambello as artistic
adviser; details of an "American Ring" cycle coming here from
Washington National Opera; a world premiere by Philip Glass (with
Christopher Hampton, about Appomattox, due in 2007); and importing
key administrators besides retaining music director Donald
Runnicles and many top staff members; Gockley presented plans
for a season that's a curious and welcome phenomenon. In a very
short time, Gockley filled in and dressed up a meager season
left for him.
(The most visible - and welcome - "instant change" is doing away
with the company's sorry "wedge" logo, presenting instead a
radiant starburst, in the familiar image of the War Memorial's
Gockley explained the lines of responsibility, thanking Rosenberg
for stopping the planning process when the management change
became known. This way, he said, the season after next was left
"virtually clear," allowing Gockley to a free hand. In an already
surprising quick turnover (departing general directors usually
leave several seasons all set in stone), Gockley went on to
speculate openly about what may be in store in 2007-'08 and
after, naming titles in the categories of new works, early Verdi,
great Romantic pieces, American opera, plus, specifically, "Peter
Grimes" and "Die Tote Stadt."
In the more immediate future, the 84th San Francisco season will
run from Sept. 8 through July 1, 2007, presenting among principal
singers (in chronological order of productions) Deborah Voigt,
Marcus Haddock, Christine Goerke, Wolfgang Brendel, Paolo
Gavanelli, Christine Brewer, Allyson McHardy, John Osborn, Karita
Mattila, Marina Domashenko, Hadar Hale(c)vy, Marco Berti, Mariusz
Kwiecien, Hope Briggs, Soile Isokoski, Joyce DiDonato,
Graham. See below for the full season schedule.
In opera, casting is planned for years ahead, but rarely are
such plans revealed. Gockley, however, announced his intention
to engage for future productions such coveted singers as Marcelo
Alvarez, Stephanie Blythe, Natalie Dessay, Rene(c)e Fleming,
Juan Diego Fle"rez, Barbara Frittoli, Angela Gheorghiu, Marcello
Giordani, Thomas Hampson, Ben Heppner, Dmitri Hvorstovsky, Anna
Netrebko, Samuel Ramey, and Ramon Vargas.
Top staff appointments include that of Shane Gasbarra as director
of artistic and music administration, and of Drew Landmesser as
the Opera's new production director. Gasbarra held a similar
position with Gockley in Houston, Landmesser comes from the Lyric
Opera of Chicago.
San Francisco Opera 2006-'07 season
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA by Giuseppe Verdi
DIE FLEDERMAUS by Johann Strauss, Jr.
RIGOLETTO by Giuseppe Verdi
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE by Richard Wagner
THE BARBER OF SEVILLE by Gioacchino Rossini
MANON LESCAUT by Giacomo Puccini
CARMEN by Georges Bizet
DON GIOVANNI by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
DER ROSENKAVALIER by Richard Strauss
IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE by Christoph Willibald Gluck
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