By now most of you realize that the Opera is celebrating its 90th season of producing opera in the Bay Area. Let’s use the occasion to take a brief backward look at the highlights of this extraordinary institution.

In June of 1922, Italian immigrant conductor Gaetano Merola held the first season of his new opera company at the Stanford football stadium in Palo Alto. This initial success led to the founding of the San Francisco Opera and the Company moved to downtown San Francisco, settling in what is now called the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and for two seasons at the Dreamland Auditorium.


Posted: 10/03/2012 by David Gockley (General Director)


San Francisco Opera will present Verdi’s Attila this June starring superstar bass Ferruccio Furlanetto. Co-produced with Milan’s Teatro alla Scala and directed by Gabriele Lavia, the new production is unusual and distinctive because it is set in three different periods of Italy’s history: ancient Rome circa 450 AD; the Viennese occupation of the early 1800’s; and the present day. Our Music Director Nicola Luisotti conducted the production in Milan and will conduct it here in June. He has this to say about the production:

Posted: 05/07/2012 by Nicola Luisotti (Music Director)


Since announcing the world première of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene for the Spring/Summer of 2013, many subscribers have asked me why we chose to do an opera on this subject. My response is that this is one of the world’s great stories in a new and exciting version, written and performed by some of the most extraordinary artists in opera today. Some, though, have expressed bewilderment. “Mary Magdalene, sure: but a Gospel of Mary? My Bible includes only the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John! How can this be an opera?”

Posted: 03/28/2012 by David Gockley (General Director)


I have received several inquiries into why we are performing our upcoming Magic Flute in English. It’s a good question that deserves an explanation.
 
In Mozart’s time (late 1700’s), Italian was the language of opera. The genre of Italian “opera seria” crossed the Alps and settled in Austria, Germany and England in particular. Audiences in Austria attended “court operas,” supported by the nobility and presented in theaters that were near–or a part of–royal or lordly palaces. One can remember the image of Mozart’s operas being performed in Vienna’s Burgtheater in the film Amadeus. Lots of powdered faces, white wigs and bitchy courtiers. After Cosi fan tutte, Mozart fell out of favor with the Austrian court and lost his salaried position. He was also losing his health.
 
Posted: 03/12/2012 by David Gockley (General Director)


For thirty-five years I’ve maintained that the classic works of the American Musical Theater are fit to be in the repertoire of opera houses. In many ways they ARE our opera. Many were composed for “legit,” unamplified voices, with sizable choruses, orchestras and dancers.





Posted: 02/20/2012 by David Gockley (General Director)


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Introduction

Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.

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