Today's welcome news of the contract agreement for the SF Opera Orchestra
reminded a prominent local opera fan of the bad old days three years ago
when administration and union were ready for a war that could have wiped
the season out.
"I am so excited to have a practical visionary like David Gockley
at the helm, instead of someone steering us into the murky
Eurotrash Ocean," writes the friend. "It particularly enraged
me when she blamed overages on unions, instead of the incredibly
wasteful practices of European directors and designers.
"Never mind the `Barber of Seville' set threatening to sink the
stage or the steady parade of `experts' from Germany, wining,
whining and dining with funds from a deficit-raked budget, just
think of the lepers. Any idea how expensive they can be? "The
enormous cost of `St. Francois d'Assise' included some 50 really,
really cool leper's costumes... at $35,000 per pop. *After* the
costumes were made and paid for, somebody actually looked at the
set, and realized that only the first row of lepers could be
seen because of the arrangement of the risers. So, 12 costumes
were used, the rest of the leper chorus sang in their jeans or
whatever. I guess if Gockley doesn't spend thousands of dollars
for unuseable costumes, he'll be condemned of `static opera'.
So be it."
This note provided the answer to a question I received before (and
discarded when I saw no context for it) about the Opera Costume Shop
selling leper's masks for $5 and full-body costumes for $15. Oh - so
that's where they came from... and what a bargain they are too! No
wonder the musicians (and everybody else in the company) had to take a
PS: Please don't accuse me of leprosy bias. I have written volumes of
stories about the disease and patients both in Kalaupapa and Hale Mohalu.
As the late Sen. Benson would say: "Richard Marks was a friend of mine."
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