On the radio, at least, it will be a treat and no tricks on April Fool's
Day when San Francisco Opera audiences here and around the world welcome
the return of a 75-year-old tradition. On April 1, after a hiatus of a
quarter century, the Opera will resume regular radio broadcasts - locally
on KDFC-FM, nationally on the WFMT Network, and on the Internet. Full
information will be posted at www.sfopera.com/broadcasts.
David Gockley, who promised to re-establish San Francisco's radio presence
when he became the Opera's general director 14 months ago, announced
today that past and future performances recorded live in the War Memorial
Opera House will be broadcast monthly year around. When the War Memorial
opened in 1932, the inaugural Puccini "Tosca" performance was actually
heard live around the country. Only Act 1, on a scratchy, poor-quality
broadcast - but it was on the air nevertheless. (Speaking of history,
this is the 77th season of live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera.)
The April 1 San Francisco broadcast will be Puccini's "Manon Lescaut,"
with Karita Mattila in the title role. Other plans for the 8 p.m.
broadcasts from the last season call for Verdi's "Rigoletto,", with Paolo
Gavanelli (May 6), Tchaikovsky's "Joan of Arc," with Dolora Zajick (June
3), Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," with Christine Brewer and Thomas
Moser, Donald Runnicles conducting (July 1), then Verdi's "A Masked
Ball," Bizet's "Carmen," Mozart's "Don Giovanni," then the summer 2007
production of Richard Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier."
Gockley says broadcast executive producer Shane Gasbarra and Marilyn
Mercur (who headed the Opera's radio program from 1972 through 1987)
will "back in time, locating old analog tapes of performances, one by
one, and try to rehabilitate and make broadcast-ready whatever is
possible... even that 1932 `Tosca'!"
Asked about the recent ownership change (from Bonneville International
to Entercom Communications - see http://tinyurl.com/2xhxy4) and the
possibility of a format change away from classical music, KDFC program
director Bill Lueth said the new owners told him to go ahead with
negotiations about the opera broadcasts.
Except for a handful of occasional local broadcasts in recent years -
nothing since the 1995 "Rusalka," four in 1992, 10 in 1987 - you have
to go back to 1977-1982 for the kind of full-season, regular schedule
Gockley is planning now. Four years after the 1932 "Tosca," there were
several abridged broadcasts over NBC, using a single microphone by the
prompter's box. Concerts and airchecks followed, until in another
wartime, in 1944, the full season of the San Francisco Opera was
broadcast over KFRC, sponsored by Safeway.
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