Wednesday, March 29, 2006

San Francisco Opera To Institute Series Of Free Concerts And Free Opera Simulcasts From War Memorial Opera House To Civic Center Plaza

"The San Francisco Opera's summer season will begin with a free simulcast on Civic Center Plaza, aired in conjunction with the May 27 opening-night performance of Puccini's "Madama Butterfly."

The live broadcast, one of several newly announced additions to the company's monthlong summer season, marks a push by new General Director David Gockley to strike the populist note that distinguished his tenure at the helm of the Houston Grand Opera.

"What we want is to establish an overall image of the company as being community-friendly and very accessible, and to emphasize what I believe -- which is that opera as an art form is accessible," Gockley said in a phone interview.

"Civic Center Plaza could accommodate as many as 12,000 to 15,000 at the outside if the circumstances were right. But I'd be happy with 5,000."

The Opera has also added a free outdoor concert by the company's Adler Fellows at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on May 28 and another one featuring stars of the season led by Music Director Donald Runnicles in [Mission] Dolores Park on July 1. ...

The "Butterfly" simulcast brings to San Francisco one of the signature innovations from Gockley's Houston years. Plazacasts, offered once or twice a year on Fish Plaza in front of the Wortham Theater in Houston, began in 1995 and remained one of the company's most noteworthy projects.

They also helped build up a following among patrons who might not otherwise have been interested in opera, Gockley said.

"All kinds of people came, and we derived long-term audiences from that and from the work we did in the parks and on the radio."

Gockley said he expects similar simulcasts to become a regular part of the schedule in San Francisco....

"It's true, we could have bad weather," Gockley said. "We'll just have to make sure to have the cognac concessions up and running and a few St. Bernards walking among the crowds."

Joshua Kosman "Opera summer season to start with outside simulcast" San Francisco Chronicle March 29, 2006

Scene from filmmaker Anthony Minghella's acclaimed interpretation of Madama Butterfly.

"The hit of the 2005–06 London opera season comes to The Met in an exciting new co-production between The Metropolitan Opera, the English National Opera, and the Lithuanian National Opera. Stage and film director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) presents Butterfly as a Japanese play, complete with Bunraku-style puppets and translucent Shoji screens designed by Michael Levine. Han Feng’s costumes are a riot of color and Carolyn Choa’s choreography explores the boundaries between East and West."

Photo credit: Metropolitan Opera Guild web-site.


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