Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Comings and goings at SFO

The proverbial rumor mill is working overtime, as the city bites its nails awaiting the SF Opera's impending announcement of the company's next General Director. The SF Chronicle's Josh Kosman openly posits that HGO's David Gockley is the search committee's top contender at the moment.

David Gockley

Assuming that the Opera's search committee wants to hire an American general director, Gockley is not a bad choice at all. The guy has a long and proven track record of fiscal prudence, great working relationships with top singers and conductors, and above all a well document spirit for innovation -- a remarkable feat given that his base of operation is in the heart of Bush country. Gockley will sometimes shoot into the dark, but is otherwise a great visionary and supporter of baroque and contemporary opera -- under-served repertoire I personally would like to see more often on the War Memorial stage.

Pamela Rosenberg

Still, most sensible opera lovers will look at Pamela Rosenberg's departure with sincere regret -- she steered the company through one of the most tumultuous and challenging periods in SFO's history, and yet she managed to produce opera that was by and large uncompromised in excitement. Inheriting a company that was set on automatic pilot towards financial disaster, she made the hard decisions -- faced naysayers with elegance and dignity, took voluntary paycuts, fired upper management, dealt assertively with unions -- and still brought us thought provoking and well prepared productions, populated with fresh, interesting new voices infused with a rich vein of personality. No other General Director has brought so much excitement in such a short tenure to one of the major American opera companies.

Meanwhile, the 2005-06 season has been officially announced -- no big surprises from what had been rumoured before. The cast for Norma looks very promising, and Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson is confirmed in the cast of the John Adams' Dr. Atomic premiere. Other season highlights include Handel's Rodelinda, with David Daniels and Catherine Naglestadt; Christine Brewer's Leonore in Fidelio; and the return of Olga Borodina, in a new production of L'Italiana in Algeri. Check SFO's website for details.

© 2005 C. Chang

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