Dr. Clifford (Kip) Cranna is dramaturg at San Francisco Opera, dealing with educational and community outreach projects, commissions of new operas, and musicological support to the staff. He has served the company since 1979, and for over 30 years was Director of Music Administration. In 2008 he received the San Francisco Opera Medal, his Company’s highest honor. In 2012 his work was honored with the Bernard Osher Cultural Award for distinguished efforts by an individual to bring excellence to a cultural institution.
He received his B.A. in choral conducting at the University of North Dakota, and his Ph.D. in musicology at Stanford University, where he specialized in Renaissance and Baroque music history and theory.
He has managed the commission or co-commission of more than twenty new operas, including Esther (1993) by Hugo Weisgall, The Dangerous Liaisons (1994) by Conrad Susa, Harvey Milk (1996) by Stewart Wallace, A Streetcar Named Desire (1998) by André Previn, Dead Man Walking (2000) by Jake Heggie, Earthrise (2003) by Lewis Spratlan, Doctor Atomic (2005) by John Adams, Appomattox (2007) by Philip Glass, The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2008) by Stewart Wallace, Three Decembers (2008) by Jake Heggie, Heart of a Soldier (2011) by Christopher Theofanidis, Moby Dick (2012) by Jake Heggie, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (2013) by Mark Adamo, The Secret Garden (2013) by Nolan Gasser, Dolores Claiborne (2013) by Tobias Picker and the upcoming La Ciociara (2015) by Marco Tutino, and Dream of the Red Chamber (2016) by Bright Sheng.
He has served as vocal adjudicator for numerous groups including the Metropolitan Opera National Council. For thirty years he was Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival. He lectures and writes frequently on music, teaches at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco, and often moderates panel discussions such as the Opera Guild “Insights.”
Dr. Cranna also acts as emeritus editor-in-chief of the opera company's "supertitles." He has conducted a number of choral groups in the San Francisco Bay area, and has been active as a director of church music programs. He has served as a grant-award panelist for the Santa Clara County Arts Council. He was a longtime member of the Board of Trustees of Chanticleer, a professional vocal ensemble, and is currently on the board of Humanities West and the advisory board of the contemporary music group Opera Parallele.
He is a frequent guest lecturer throughout Northern California in the field of music appreciation, and has presented programs for such diverse groups as the San Francisco Symphony, Phi Beta Kappa, the Commonwealth Club of California, the Wagner Society, the Yung Institute, the Exploratorium, the National Opera Association, and the alumni groups of Stanford, Yale, and Columbia. He has written numerous articles on opera and recording liner notes, and music reviews for the online service San Francisco Classical Voice. He has also served as a musical Study Leader for Smithsonian Study Tours, and as intermission host for the San Francisco Opera radio broadcasts. He was named 2006 “Man of the Year” by Il Cenacolo, a San Francisco men’s Italian cultural organization.