Tuesday, January 23, 2007

David Gockley Threatens To Nationalize San Francisco Opera By Presenting Seasonal Back-To-Back World Premieres By Glass/Hampton And Wallace/Tan

"Dwayne Croft will sing Robert E. Lee and Andrew Shore will portray Ulysses S. Grant when the San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Philip Glass' "Appomattox" on Oct. 5 [2007].

Dennis Russell Davies will conduct and George C. Wolfe will direct in the San Francisco Opera debut for both, the company announced Monday. The libretto is by Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton.

San Francisco's season also includes a new production of Wagner's "Tannhaeuser," a new staging of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" coproduced with the Washington National Opera, the company premiere of Handel's "Ariodante," a new production of Stravinsky's "The Rake's Progress" and the West Coast premiere of Rachel Portman's "The Little Prince."

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu is to make her company debut in Puccini's "La Rodine," a coproduction with The Royal Opera and the Theatre du Capitole de Toulouse that may travel to New York's Metropolitan Opera in 2008-9. Natalie Dessay will star in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," a new Mary Zimmerman production that is slated to open the Met's 2007-8 season.

The season is the first mostly planned by general director David Gockley, hired in February 2005 to take over from Pamela Rosenberg the following January. Ten of the 11 productions have not been seen in San Francisco before.

"This is a company coming off a near-death experience, as the board describes it," Gockley said Friday in a telephone interview. "One had to be very pragmatic about this season, stretching but not making it unaffordable or sending the company back in a direction of great financial risk."

The San Francisco Opera had an 88.9 percent capacity last fall, up from an 82.2 percent capacity in the fall of 2005, spokeswoman Karen Ames said.

Gockley already has made several moves to the future. The head of the Houston Grand Opera from 1972 until leaving for San Francisco, Gockley brought the Glass project to San Francisco with him. San Francisco's 2008-09 season features the world premiere of Stewart Wallace's "The Bonesetter's Daughter," based on Amy Tan's novel..."

Ronald Blum Associated Press "San Francisco Opera season to include Philip Glass world premiere" via Monteray Herald.com January 22, 2007


Ruins of the Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, December 1864. Photographed by James Gardner. 165-SB-18

Image credit: United States National Archives.


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