David Gockley to exit S.F. Opera with big 2015-16 season 

San Francisco Opera's 2015-16 season, announced today by General Director David Gockley, features 10 productions – premieres, novelties, beloved war horses and a Broadway musical – and world-famous singers, including many alumni (and current participants) in the company's training programs.

Scheduled to program two more seasons beyond his retirement in 2016, Gockley will conclude a virtually unprecedented 44-year career, 33 at the helm of Houston Grand Opera, the rest with San Francisco since 2006. He brought S.F. Opera back from the edge of disaster posed by the large deficit he faced on arrival just before the beginning of the Great Recession.

Gockley says the company's 93rd season includes some of his most “cherished” works: “Verdi’s epic 'Don Carlo,' Sondheim’s Grand Guignol horror show 'Sweeney Todd,' Wagner’s colossal 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg' and Janácek’s transcendent 'Jenufa'" (conducted by Jiri Belohlávek, with Malin Byström in the title role).

The fall season opens Sept. 11 in the War Memorial Opera House with Verdi’s "Luisa Miller" starring Merola/Adler program alumna Leah Crocetto, Michael Fabiano and Thomas Hampson, conducted by Nicola Luisotti. It concludes with a curious double-bill, the American premiere of San Francisco philanthropist Gordon Getty’s "Usher House" and Robert Orledge's reconstruction of Debussy’s "The Fall of the House of Usher," directed by David Pountney and conducted by Lawrence Foster.

The summer season opens with the American opera debut of controversial Spanish director Calixto Bieito, known for sexual and scatological excesses, yet remaining in great demand. Describing Bieito’s production of Bizet's "Carmen" as "comparatively tame," Gockley says he decided to give the opera “a shot in the arm” by replacing the company's 33-year-old production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. Irene Roberts and Ginger Costa-Jackson alternate in the title role.

"Sweeney Todd" stars Stephanie Blythe and Gerald Finley; a new production of Donizetti’s "Lucia di Lammermoor" is directed by Michael Cavanagh, with Diana Damrau and Piotr Beczala in leading roles.

The San Francisco premiere of David McVicar’s production of "Die Meistersinger" is conducted by Mark Elder, featuring Greer Grimsley, Brandon Jovanovich and Rachel Willis-Sørensen.

Tenor Fabiano has the title role in "Don Carlo," with Krassimira Stoyanova, Nadia Krasteva, Mariusz Kwiecien and René Pape in leading roles.

Revivals include Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and Rossini's "The Barber of Seville."

Under Gockley's leadership, the company's budget held steady and the deficit declined to $360,000, until two years ago. Taking into account this summer’s $6 million production of Berlioz's "Les Troyens," Gockley estimates an $80 million operating budget, with a $2.5 million deficit, for the next year.

In other fiscal matters, the San Francisco Opera endowment, at $165 million, will increase by $22 million when the company's warehouse is sold. The Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, a 40,000-square-foot space in the Veterans Building next to the opera house, is slated for a 2016 opening. It will house activities now happening in seven locations, as well as a 299-seat Atrium Theater.


San Francisco Opera 2015-16 season

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: Sept. 11 to July 3, 2016

Tickets: $26 to $381 for single seats (on sale June 29)

Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

Note: Subscriptions, from $78 to $3,286, go on sale Jan. 12.


Luisa Miller (Verdi): Sept.11-27

Sweeney Todd (Sondheim): Sept. 12-29

Lucia di Lammermoor (Donizetti): Oct. 8-28

The Magic Flute ( Mozart): Oct. 20-Nov. 20

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Wagner): Nov. 18-Dec. 6

The Barber of Seville (Rossini): Nov. 25-Dec. 9

Usher House (Getty), The Fall of the House of Usher (Debussy): Dec. 8-13


Carmen (Bizet): May 27-July 3

Don Carlo (Verdi): June 12-29

Jenufa (Janácek): June 14-July 1

About The Author

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben

Janos Gereben is a writer and columnist for SF Classical Voice; he has worked as writer and editor with the NY Herald-Tribune, TIME Inc., UPI, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, San Jose Mercury News, Post Newspaper Group, and wrote documentation for various technology companies.
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