Cher Public

Breaking: horses not to be frightened

“Our patrons are also our investors, and because many of our core subscribers are also our most generous philanthropists, we need to make sure that our programming jives with their expectations, what they’d like to see onstage,” [newly appointed General Director of San Francisco Opera MatthewShilvock said. [AP]

  • rapt

    Doesn’t matter if they jibe, as long as they’re jivin’.

  • Krunoslav

    Newsflash: U.S. cultural organizational boards like British accents.

    One wishes him well.

  • redbear

    More evidence of a scarcity of top management talent in the opera world?

  • zinka

    It may not be opera…but I could not resist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Lohengrin

      Thank You for that clip. Living in Europa I am not unsed to watch TV-discussions in US-TV. Found another clip, where Mr. Carson says important things about (self) education:

  • Stefan

    Ouch! If I was hoping for something new and innovative, this quote does not make for positive thoughts in that direction. It actually sounds like we’re gonna’ get even more of the “standard bread and butter” that we got from Gockley. Time will tell but………

  • -Ed.

    People keep writing about the aging audiences attending the opera today. I suppose what they mean is aged audiences. Every audience is aging; not all audiences are elderly. But then, it’s not usually considered polite to call people old today, so I guess that explains it.

  • Henry Holland

    Gockley’s tenure included the world premieres of Philip Glass’ “Appomattox,” Stewart Wallace’s “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” Christopher Theofanidis’ “Heart of a Soldier,” Nolan Gasser’s “The Secret Garden,” Mark Adamo’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” Tobias Picker’s “Dolores Claiborne” and Marco Tulino’s “La Ciociara (Two Women).”


    From the article: San Francisco’s first season under his full planning will be 2018-19

    Two more seasons of Gockley programming after this one.

  • Often admonished

    Philip Glass’ “Appomattox,” Stewart Wallace’s “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” Christopher Theofanidis’ “Heart of a Soldier,” Nolan Gasser’s “The Secret Garden,” Mark Adamo’s “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” Tobias Picker’s “Dolores Claiborne” and Marco Tulino’s “La Ciociara (Two Women).

    and where are they now?

    • mrsjohnclaggart

      A San Francisco reviewer on another list (worthless) named many new operas (at the time) that Gockley was involved with both at Houston and San Francisco. That person did not make clear whether Gockley had actually commissioned the works personally based on his own interests and sense of a composer’s potential, (has he ever had any sense of that kind?) or if he were given the opportunity to present a world premiere of a new opera by a “hot” composer or team (Ricky Ian Gorden and John La Chiusa, very hot at the time were on the list) already funded with further performances guaranteed.

      The most famous of the Houston operas was Nixon in China. I knew John Adams at the time. It was his best period where he was transforming more limited notions of “minimalism” into a much larger scaled and dense style. His great symphonic (IMO) work, Harmonielehre came from this period and its marvellous second movement is called The Amfortas Wound. It was as Adams was finishing this that Peter Sellars approached him with the idea for Nixon and found La Cieca’s favorite poet Alice Goodman to write words with Mark Morris to commit to dance and movement.

      Adams didn’t want to do it; as with so many living composers of his era and background he didn’t much like opera and really don’t know much about the form. He told me he liked the idea of Nixon as sort of a Greek conqueror of legend bringing what he thought was enlightenment to a strange but powerful culture. I think Goodman claimed this was her idea and Sellars claimed it was his, but I believe Adams came up with this concept and it’s the one served by his collaborators.

      I think the ever busy Sellars lined up funders and pitched Gockley, who liked the attention such a work would get his company but wasn’t otherwise involved and may not have known much about Adams. The work bombed in Houston and I remember the first night in New York at BAM where every American composer who could get there went to hate it. It was not a success there either. But it worked for “the myth of Gockley” and soon enough was being produced around the world. Adams today is second on the list of American opera composers produced worldwide (Glass is first, Henry Holland’s favoratist creator, Jake Heggie is number three).

      Every new opera Gockley produced seemed to me a matter of opportunism and an aesthetic vacancy on his part (that doesn’t mean he didn’t give first productions to some interesting and important work and may have been invovled in some fund raising). For example, Little Women by the well connected, amorously successful Mark Adamo saved opera workshops from the horrors of Menotti, the challenges of Mozart and the crassness of Heggie. However, the horrific camp work “Two Women” championed by Luisotti this spring is an example of the downside of Gockley’s method (I’d say Heggie too, but the world evidently disagrees).

      Anybody who produces new work must accept some failures, and the culture is hardly welcoming to the new, so I think some good work has fallen through the cracks unjustly.

      I remember liking Glass’ Appomattox quite a bit and I think Picker is actually talented but again needs a good librettist and a shrewd producer to get the best out of him.

      The new fellow is at least very well educated in music as well as experienced though I doubt earth-shaking innovations in programming will come from him. And I think he meant that Butterfly was better than Jenufa because more familiar, rather than that Jenufa was inferior (and it’s odd to think that Janacek’s most tuneful work already 113 years old with a strong story and devasting final scene would be hard for anyone to absorb) but who knows?

    • la vociaccia

      Why do you think Gockley was so salty about the huge success Written on Skin had in NYC? Imagine how frustrating it must be, having a new opera sell out three performances in a big hall, get standing ovations AND rave reviews, when most of the dogshit operas premiered at SFO these past 10 years can’t lay claim to ONE of those things happening.

  • Signor Bruschino

    While its status quo, its still nice to see someone under 40 running an opera house. Let’s be happy for a bit of youth being injected into upper management.

  • laddie

    Well, why bother opening up the performances to the public then? Save your “philanthropists” and your “core subscribers” lots of money and put on your operas just for them, saving oodles by not selling tickets. No trips to San Francisco for me. Plutocracy, anyone?

  • Ilka Saro

    What Gelb says is hardly news. What those core subscriber/big donor types need is a recovery program for their addiction to the expected. Gelb enables them, they enable Gelb. The Met is this kind of very exotic crack house. Maybe if Child Protective Services took away the big donors’ children they’d realize how sick they are, and we’d get a little Herheim…

    • I don’t think Gelb actually said anything here. We’re talking about San Francisco.

    • Thank goodness there’s no hyperbole on parterre. ;)

  • No Expert

    Or misinformation

  • zinka

    The fabulous voice of Cornell MacNeil, born 9/24/ 1922. He sounded like nine cannons!!!!!

    • Camille

      I must concur. He was a wonderful singer.

      I listened faithfully to his Rigoletto all the while I was learning that opera when young and, much to my great happiness, actually got to hear him sing the role here in 1979. I’ve never forgotten it. Neither him, nor Jerome Hines, at age 185, singing Sparafucile, nor Judith Blegen as Gilda, nor Whatshisname from Brooklyn, who sang the Duke.

      Also, a friend of mine who worked at the Met once pointed him out to me in the parking garage on the concourse level. That, too, was a thrill. His comments in that book by Jerome Hines on Great singers on Singing, or whatever it was called should be read by all young singers.

  • zinka

    Article to follow…I’LL BE BACK!!!!!

    • zinka

      On this birthday of Lina Bruna Rasa (who once jumped into the orchestra pit), the Jayne Mansfield of opera, whose chest voice was SCARY, I must for the zillionth time proclaim that we miss a large percent of glorious music when divas refuse (or do not know how) to use the lower part of the voice.

      They do not have to sound like Lina, but there are singers like Victoria De Los Angeles, as an example, who could “mix” the lower voice and not sound “empty,” as do many divas, even with magnificent voices. When I first got to know Zeani, I said, “In your careeer you never came out of “chest.” Her answer was that she calls it “mask’ rather than “open chest.” Well, whatever you call it, singers like her and the list below, in varying degrees, make so much of a difference when they use the “complete range.”

      Like these girls? Petrella,Gavazzi, Moedl, Scotto, Soviero,Kirsten, Sills (YESS!), Galvany,Callas, Suliotis, Tebaldi, Milanov, Flanigan, Albanese, Gencer,Kabaiwanska, Peters ,(also YESS!), Muzio, Ponselle, Arangi-Lombardi, Tetrazzini (almost comical at times, but they use to deliberately “break.”),etc.

      The amount of “chest voice” varies, but a rich voice (Stella) does not have to sound like Chaliapin down there to make a marvelous effect. To my last day on this earth (even later on) I will wait for a Mimi to sing “gelo” in the aria, so you can actually hear it, and as another example, when Kabaiwanska saw Pinkerton’s ship and joyously sings, ” la mia fe trionfa inteRAAAAA,” the “ah” vowel in rich chest voice makes a huge effect.

      A precious few Toscas dare to sing the “perche me ne rimuneri COsi” in chest..O.K. I’ll give Zinka and Tebaldi a break, but OIivero and Muzio make much more of the note. I know, my OCD gets crazy, but that is why I can thrill to a single VOWEL as much as a high C.

      I know teachers are afraid that their students will lose it too soon ( Suliotis was an aberration), and shorten their careers (like Olivero,Gencer,Nilsson…HA!). This reminds me of, probably Zinka, who said, re:Marisa Galvany, “The leetle girl vill not last!” Yeah..Those E naturals were all bad!!!!! It is the TECHNIQUE that works, but I rarely today hear someone like Olive Middleton, even at 75, without teeth, sing “Qual suon, quelle PRECE” in the Miserere!!!!
      We need more Ethel Merman!!!!!!