Cher Public

Dinner for schmuck

In celebration of the impending retirement of San Francisco Opera’s head honcho David Gockley, La Cieca proposes a late summer competition, with a first prize of not having dinner with San Francisco Opera’s head honcho David Gockley.  

Your mission, cher public, is as follows: in the comments section below, you are to devise a menu for a dinner party at which San Francisco Opera’s head honcho David Gockley is the guest of honor. In keeping with his expressed preferences, you are further to create a musical program consisting of selections from “contemporary” operas to be played during dinner, with “contemporary” defined as “having had its world premiere during the lifetime of San Francisco Opera’s head honcho David Gockley,” i.e., since July 13, 1943.

Points will be awarded for the ironic or satirical correlation between dinner courses and their corresponding musical extracts. In other words, we’re looking for comedy, people.

Whoever devised the most mordant menu will win the prize of a coveted Amazon Gift Card in the amount of $75.00. The competition will end on Monday, September 7, 2015 at midnight.

All decisions will be made by La Cieca, which I don’t think I need to tell you implies finality.

  • Ilka Saro

    I am not really gourmet enough, or up on my modern operas enough to plan such a meal, but here is what five minutes in my workday produces

    “Pizzettis” skewered on those little plastic hors d’oeuvres swords. (Assassanio nella C)
    Slices of underdone kielbasa served with stale bauernbrot (Death in V)
    Boycotted Mezze (Death of K)

    Main Course
    Salt pork, beans and cheap whiskey (Brokeback M)
    Pestilential Pasties (Mines of S)
    Peas O’hern (Suz, which no one would touch)

    Twinkies and beer purchased with a fake ID (Two Bs)

    • Krunoslav

      “Find something better than that!”

  • armerjacquino

    I totally lack the expertise for this, so I’ll just provide the canapés: Baby Doe Balls, The First Empanadas and Toasts of Versailles.

    • Krunoslav

      “Too many sauces!”

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Écrevisse à la bord de l’EST

  • Gockley:

    Gockley is unconvinced by the popularity of Written on Skin. “It’s a connoisseur’s piece,” he said. “Its musical language is extraordinarily complicated. I mean, are you going to sit down and play [a recording of] that at dinner?”

    Well, that’s some definition of accessible opera. Would he play Elektra at dinner?

    • rapt

      Elektra is just what I thought of, too. Maybe all those sacrificed animals could be of use…

      • Batty Masetto

        Why, Elektra is some of my favorite dinner music, especially the murder scenes. Also Salome, the Hammerklavier sonata, the Art of the Fugue, Death and the Maiden (excellent with oysters), the Berlioz Requiem, and Boris Godunov. Sometimes for a refreshing change we add the St. Matthew Passion or Beethoven’s Ninth. If the menu is especially heavy we play Bruckner.

        I fear my barbecues are too often accompanied by the Immolation Scene.

    • FakeDavidGockley asks: I mean, are you going to get down and play [a recording] of that while having sex?

      • manou

        Depends who with.

  • OK, mine is hopelessly literal but I had fun.

    Course 1
    Chilled zucchini soup in a shot glass, accompanied by Cold Mountain

    Course 2
    Crispy duck salad, accompanied by Written on Skin

    Course 3
    American Chop Suey, accompanied by Nixon in China

    Course 4
    Pork Chop with Ratatouille, accompanied by Les Dialogues des Carmelites

    Course 5
    Venetian strawberry torte, accompanied by Death in Venice

  • messa di voce

    A simple meal for a man with simple tastes:

    Pimento cheese on a ritz (Showboat)

    Cuisse de poulet ecrasse (Dolores Claiborne)

    Pets de nonne (Carmelites)

  • Camille

    Genevieve’s Roadhouse Roadkill.

    That’s all.

  • Baltsamic Vinaigrette

    No doubting the red wine to go with: a Bordeaux cru bourgeois.

  • chicagoing

    I am considering treating myself to a first time visit to the San Francisco Opera next June for Don Carlo, an opera I have not yet seen. Single tickets are now on sale. Where should I sit for an optimal experience? I would need a comfortable view of the supertitles and generally prefer to sit close to the stage. Any feedback appreciated.

    • I prefer sitting in the first couple of rows of the balcony circle. There’s a full view of the stage and no problem (at least for me, and I wear Coke-bottle glasses) reading the supertitles.

      Looks like tix in that section are going for around $130. If a closer view of the stage is paramount, dress circle tix are around $160.

      *waves to one and all*

      Hello! I’ve been lurking for a while, but I finally decided to dip my toes in the shark tank. (j/k!) I enjoy the discussions here, and hope to have more to contribute soon. :)

      • leftcoastlady

        Whatever you do, stay out from under the box overhang in orchestra rear. Sound is diminished. I like Grand Tier for just about everything, sight and sound.

    • derschatzgabber

      Hi Chicagoing,

      The basic rule of thumb in the War Memorial Opera House is that sound gets better higher up in the house. But sightlines are fairly compromised in the balcony (even in the balcony circle). I have sat in all sections, and I would not recommend balcony circle for a first visit to San Francisco. I think the opera’s website still has a feature on the seatmap that lets you see what the view of the stage looks like from each section of the house.

      Orchestra is close to the stage, but the mix between orchestra and voices can be awkward. And yes, avoid sitting under the overhang in rear orchestra.

      Grand Tier is good for sightlines and sound, if that section works for your budget. Dress Circle is also pretty good, but try to get as close to front of the section (and central) as possible.

      One last note, legroom is best in the orchestra secton. If you are especially tall,you may feel cramped in the other sections.

      • chicagoing

        Thanks to you and all who replied. There is a single center box seat available which I was considering only because I am potentially traveling just for this performance but there is also an orchestra seat in row H which is more in line with where I tend to sit here.

    • derschatzgabber

      P.S. Chicagoing, I checked the website. Once you click on the seat map for section you are consdering, there is a little camera icon in the upper left corner. Click on that and you will see the locations that pictures have been taken from.

      One caveat. The Ariodante set in the photographs was very shallow. The walls are only about a third of the way back from the front of the stage area. This makes balcony sight lines look better than they actually area. From the balcony, you will rarely see a back drop

      • leftcoastlady

        Chicagoing, life is short, be good to yourself, take the center box seat; just you and seven other people and a straight, unobstructed view to the stage. Orchestra H is the eighth row, in my view a little too close to the orchestra. I sat in H during ballet season last year and found the seat unaccountably low to the floor and the seats in front of me having rather high backs. A lot of neck stretching and peering around the head of the guy in front of me and I am above average height. Just saying …

        • chicagoing

          Thanks for nudging me into a box seat for the June 18th performance. The length of the opera helps me to rationalize the more extravagant choice. I am biased, but I thought the cast for this production was so strong that I was surprised it did not make the Opera News list of events to look out for next season.

          • leftcoastlady

            Excellent choice. I wish for you a wonderful experience in San Francisco next year.

  • David Gockley’s Bourgeois Dinner
    avec Dinner Music

    Wine coolers -- made by the piano-cocktail from Denisov’s “L’Ecume des jours”

    Campbell’s Corn Soup with Rice Krispie niblets -- with scenes from “The Yellow Sound” by Alessandro Solbiati

    Little cocktail wieners elegantly wrapped in Pillsbury pastry dough -- Sharikov’s entrance from Raskatov’s “A Dog’s Heart”

    Iceberg lettuce salad -- fragments from Berio’s Titantic opera “Opera”


    KFC in a bucket, extra crispy -- Messiaen’s “Saint Francois d’Assise”, Sermon to the Birds

    Instant mashed potatoes with extra cheese -- Tutino’s “La Ciociara”, set on “repeat”

    Cat-piss scented wine -- the closing scene of Francesconi’s “Quartet”

    Kids’ menu: Mrs. Paul’s Crunchy Fish Sticks -- scenes from Wuorinen’s “Haroun and the Sea of Stories”


    Dessert: Taco Bell’s Dulce de leche flautas -- your favorite bits of Turnage’s “Anna Nicole”


    After party/recessional: Kissinger saying, “Premier, please, where’s the toilet” -- looped and remixed by DJ Mason Bates.

    • Correction: the Iceberg lettuce salad is accompanied with Wishbone Italian Dressing (Lite?. Also: if Gordon Getty picks up the bill, then all the music will be by him.

      • Operngasse

        If Gordon Getty picks up the bill, can you change the salad dressing to oil and vinegar?

  • Cicciabella

    One thing you’ve got to admire is how Gockley captures the essence of bourgeois culture: music exists to muffle the sound of mastication during dinner, paintings to colour-coordinate with the curtains, etc. I never play music during meals, but I couldn’t tenderise meat properly without the Anvil Song from Siegfried.

    • jackoh

      I am one of those who finds that the presence of music at dinner aids digestion. This is not to say that music should exist as a digestif. But if music, or anything else, is unrelated to the basic physiologic makeup and workings of we human animals, then I wonder about its relevance to us.

    • Salome is great for ironing. Seriously.

      • Cicciabella

        Also, I discovered while baby-sitting that Condotta ell’era in ceppi makes a great lullaby, provided you go easy on the chest voice.

        • I wasn’t suggesting I sang Salome myself!

          • manou

            I have found that small children can be entertained during car journeys by listening to various operas -- although I once played Morgen to them and said “Isn’t this lovely?” and the answer was “It was -- until that woman started to sing”.

            • Who was it? Katherine Jenkins?

            • manou

              Kiri Te Kanawa…..

            • rapt

              Must have been the diction.

          • Cicciabella

            Of course not! You’d have burn marks all over your arms.

        • armerjacquino

          Azucena with sparing use of chest? You’ll have Zucker after you, not to mention our own Zinka.

      • Flora del Rio Grande

        Not only that, NPW, if you are refinishing a chest of
        drawers or any substantial piece of furniture, Der fliegende
        Hollander is the perfect accompaniment.
        Tannhauser would do as well; it all makes the
        work seem so short.
        To turn the crank and freeze a gallon of ice cream
        by hand, Parsifal is ideal. Always works — but
        La Cieca gets to lick the dasher!
        Love to all,
        Flora del Rio Grande

  • Krunoslav
  • Krunoslav

    How about an all-Getty-inspired menu?

    [Usher] House Salad with crumbled [Plump] Monterey Jack

    Grilled Cobs of White [Election] Corn

    Stuffed [Canterville] Ghost Peppers

  • Krunoslav

    Ich habe Mut und Kraft!

  • DharmaBray

    Assuming Mr. Gockley dines at The French Laundry for his retirement celebrations, have taken a recent menu for my operatic inspirations…

    “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters
    and White Sturgeon Caviar
    -- “Hmmm, it’s delicious”, Le Grande Macabre, Gyorgy Ligeti

    Smoked Montana Rainbow Trout “Terrine,” Pickled Quail Egg,
    D’Avignon Radishes and Crispy Oyster Crackers
    ( 75.00 supplement )
    -- “I can smell the sea air”, Act 3, Streetcar Named Desire, Andre Previn

    Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm, Pea Tendrils
    and Lime Gastrique
    -- “How could you say”, Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein

    Schmitt Family Farm Apples, Belgian Endive, Toasted Oats
    and Black Winter Truffle Purée
    ( 40.00 supplement )
    -- The Temptation, Paradise Lost, Krzysztof Penderecki

    Compressed Cucumbers, Brokaw Avocado Mousse, Preserved Meyer Lemon and Garden Celery
    -- “Old Joe Has Gone Fishing”, Peter Grimes, Benjamin Britten

    Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Young Leek “Soubise,” Pommes Maxim’s, Caramelized Ruby Beets and Nasturtium Leaves
    -- “Mmmm, aahhh, room service?”, Powder Her Face, Thomas Ades

    Garden Onion Blossoms, Sweet Onion Petals, Crispy Cipollini Onions and Caramelized Onion “Bouillon”
    -- “Starvation has the genius of hunger in it”, The Navigator, Liza Lim

    Applewood Smoked Bacon, Dry Aged Brisket “Pain Perdu,” Marinated Sungold Tomatoes and “Crème de Laitue”
    -- “They have taken my bull”, King Priam, Michael Tippett

    Devin Knell’s 3 Year Aged Mangalista Ham, Sweet Pepper “Gelée,” Pine Nut Purée and Crispy Chickpea “Panisse”
    -- “He will gather us around”, Act 1, Sc 1, Dead Man Walking, Jake Heggie

    Fruit, Ice Cream, Chocolate and Candies
    -- “Cheers, cheers”, end of Act 1, Nixon in China, John Adams.

  • Milly Grazie

    Very well awared! Delicious and appropriate culinary menu, thanks for sharing!
    Hope Mr G. stays awake long enough to get through it all!