Thursday, June 15, 2006

Leading Man: San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley Hopes To Mount World Premiere Every Other Year, Despite Large Bay Area Opera House

..."Singer's Showcase

"[Stephen] West: San Francisco Opera used to be known as a singer's showcase. Is it still possible to get the best talent?

[David] Gockley: The best talent will return.

West: Will that help increase ticket sales?

Gockley: Yes. I think two-thirds of the repertory in a big theater of 3,200 seats needs the glamour and the excitement that the greatest voices in the world will give you. This audience was reared on the greatest voices in the world, which appeared here until the late '80s or early '90s, when somehow whatever happened happened.

I'm glad to say that with one or two exceptions, we have gotten every great singer of the top 30 in the world -- the Met's top singers, Vienna's, Paris's -- to accept engagements here in the next three or four years.


West: In Houston, you were known for premiering a number of new works. And here?

Gockley: We've already announced two new works that will be done in the first two years I've planned, 2007-08 and 2008-09 [the Christopher Hampton/Philip Glass opera on Appomattox, the site of the surrender that ended the Civil War, and the Amy Tan/Stewart Wallace setting of Ms Tan's The Bonesetter's Daugher, which will premiere in 2008 in both San Francisco and China]. But probably not as frequently as in Houston, which had a small theater as well as a large theater. Many of the premieres were in the small theater. I would say maybe a premiere once every two years.

West: Do you have to program in a more mainstream fashion?

Gockley: Not only mainstream in the sense of ``Butterfly,'' ``La Boheme,'' but looking at works like ``Ernani,'' ``Gioconda,' ``The Ring,'' which we never did in Houston.

West: What's your top goal for the next year?

Gockley: To balance the budget without evisceration money. To prove to people that a big international company with huge fixed costs and union contracts can find a balance. And then we can take this evisceration money and put it into endowment, into a new ``Ring,'' rather than mopping up the fiscal year.

The company's summer season runs through July 2 at the War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Information: (1)(415) 864-3330 or"

Stephen West "S.F. Opera's Gockley Talks About Deficits, Eviscerating Donors" June 15, 2006

Set in contemporary San Francisco and in a Chinese village where Peking Man is unearthed, The Bonesetter's Daughter is an excavation of the human spirit: the past, its deepest wounds, its most profound hopes.

This is the story of LuLing Young, who searches for the name of her mother, the daughter of the famous Bonesetter from the Mouth of the Mountain.

The story conjures the pain of broken dreams, the power of myths, and the strength of love that enables us to recover in memory what we have lost in grief. [Author and Librettist Amy] Tan has a master's degree in linguistics from San Jose State University and worked as a language specialist to programs serving children with developmental disabilities

Photo and text credit: Bringing Wisdom to the Information Age. With thanks.


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