Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Ever Decreasing Circles

January 09, 2007

Nicola Luisotti and David Gockley
Photo by Terrence McCarthy 2006
San Francisco Opera announced today that Nicola Luisotti has been appointed Music Director to succeed Donald Runnicles when his tenure ends at the beginning of the 2009-2010 season. I will hand it to the board and General Director David Gockley in that they have chosen someone young, hopefully with all the commensurate energy and excitement. However, unlike some people, I hardly think this is a reason to jump up and down. As Joshua Kosman notes on his blog, Luisotti doesn’t have much of a known track record outside of Verdi and Puccini. Great - just what San Francisco needs, more Toscas and Traviatas.

I’ve seen Luisotti on three occasions – the 2004 Forza in SF as well as a 2004 Carmen and a 2005 I Pagliacci both in Los Angeles. All of the orchestral performances were certainly good, but nothing to write home about. Of course this may be unfair in that my recollection of all of these productions are hampered by problematic vocal performances. (i.e. Alagna as Canio and Gruber as Leonora.) But I find it hard to believe that anything in his press materials or CV suggests that Luisotti is likely to be a dynamic and forward-looking music director. Of course maybe Gockley and the Board know something that isn’t apparent on the surface. And who knows, with the upcoming announcement of next season’s productions, there may be all kinds of tricks up those sleeves that have yet to be seen. Luisotti certainly is photogenic though, isn't he?

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