Regular readers of my posts may know that I have not been especially optimistic about San Francisco Opera or its new leadership under David Gockley over the last year or so. However, today’s announcement of San Francisco’s 2007-2008 season
has gone a long way to assuaging my doubts. Gockley still can't keep his hands off the whole "new era" rhetoric in his introduction, but this is a plan significantly superior to slates already announced for Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington National for the same period and it all comes down to one word – variety. While there are only two new productions out of the ten, the world premiere of Glass’ Appomattox
and a new Tannhäuser
, the rest of the slate features an excellent assortment of borrowed productions, most new to the West Coast. There is only one revival in the bunch, and the house has boldly chosen to take a breather from all the usual top 10 favorites. All this and Gockley has delivered on stepping up with a little more star power this year in the forms of Natalie Dessay, Angela Gheorghiu, Thomas Hampson, Olga Borodina, and Susan Graham. (As well as the SF Opera debut of Ewa Podles) Plus, if you count the additional production of Portman’s The Little Prince
, the season contains 4 works from the 20th (and 21st) centuries. All this and Macbeth
, The Rake's Progress
, and their new Das Rheingold
a co-production with WNO.
Of course at this time of year, everything looks good on paper, so only time will tell, but I would say this is not at all a bad start. There are some interesting California coincidences of note. LA is about to premiere its new Tannhäuser
in February with the same two principals that San Francisco has scheduled for October, Peter Seiffert and Petra Maria Schnitzer. Both companies will stage La Rondine
in June 2008. San Francisco will have an imported production with Gheorghiu and LA will have a revival of its Marta Domingo production with Patricia Racette. The Metropolitan Opera continues on its course of becoming the nation's biggest opera lending library by loaning out their new Lucia di Lammermoor
complete with star Natalie Dessay still intact just as LA will get their Jenufa
complete with Karita Mattlia. Not only has the Met taken over the movie theaters and the airwaves, but the opera world-domination appears to have extended into other actual opera houses as well. But there is no quibbling here. The best news of all – I continue to have an excuse to travel north and have oysters at Zuni.