In Honor of Mayor Ed Lee

Dear Members of the San Francisco Opera Family,

It is with profound sadness that we learned this morning of the passing of Mayor Ed Lee. It is hard to comprehend this loss for the City and the community of San Francisco and we send heartfelt sympathies to his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, his family, friends and all who work for the City.

Mayor Ed Lee after the September 2016 premiere of
Dream of the Red Chamber.

Mayor Lee played a powerful role advocating and celebrating San Francisco Opera as we worked to bring our world premiere opera, Dream of the Red Chamber, by Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng, first to San Francisco and then to Hong Kong and China. He and Mrs. Lee were honorary co-chairs of DRC and, with chairs Doreen Woo Ho and Goretti Lo Lui, took great pride in bringing this work to Asian and American audiences, celebrating this transformation of one of China's great novels for the opera stage.

Images from Mayor Lee’s support of Dream of the Red Chamber. Top, Mayor Lee with David Gockley and members of the creative team. Bottom left with Director of the Asian Art Museum Jay Xu, Goretti Lo Lui and SFO Board Member Doreen Woo Ho. Bottom right, with Mrs. Lee and Matthew Shilvock.

 I was privileged to spend time with Mayor Lee on a number of occasions over the past two years, including a particularly memorable dinner in Beijing, during which he spoke with elegance and heart about the role of the arts in bridging international divides. It was a wonderful example of how his quiet, thoughtful and collaborative style could deliver messages of profound importance, framed in a way that gave hope and promise.

Just a few months ago he attended a performance of Turandot here at the War Memorial Opera House. He spent time onstage before the performance began, shaking hands with crew members, chatting with artists and being awed by the striking impact of the David Hockney sets. He deeply appreciated the power of these expressions of humanity on the opera stage.

With Mrs. Lee, tenor Brian Jagde and Matthew Shilvock on the set of Turandot in September.

Mayor Lee had an incredibly thoughtful and kind disposition. He gave us encouragement, wisdom and vision for a more integrated future for the City and it is a profound sadness that his ability to effect change in San Francisco was cut short too soon. San Francisco Opera mourns the loss of a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of our City, and who celebrated with us the power of the arts to give hope and promise to an entire community.

Mayor Lee with Supervisor Breed, four of the Opera’s Adler Fellows and two members of the SF Deltas at a recent presentation of the National Anthem.

As Acting Mayor London Breed assumes office, we offer her our full support as she takes the City through this time of transition and reflection, working towards a continued vitality for San Francisco in the spirit of hope Mayor Lee so wonderfully espoused.  

With deepest sympathy,
Matthew Shilvock
San Francisco Opera General Director