With a reputation as one of today’s most important opera impresarios, and one of the major innovators in the art form, David Gockley has certainly made a huge impact on opera in this country. Next month he retires from a 45-year career, having spent the past 10 years as general director of San Francisco Opera, and leaving behind a remarkable legacy.
It is fitting, therefore, that San Francisco Opera is celebrating this astonishingly fruitful career, with a Gala Concert at the War Memorial Opera House this week, in which an illustrious array of luminaries will pay tribute to his impressive achievements.
Tenor Brian Jagde sings Don José, a role which he says is now “a staple” in his repertoire. “I have a long history in many roles with this opera,” he says, “and it is likely for that reason that it’s so close to my heart.” Among his recent performances of Don José was his debut appearance in 2015 at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, in which he was described by Codalario magazine as both “passionate” and “virile”, adding that “he transcended in voice and the eloquence of his acting”. It also referred to the end of the fourth act as “dramatic and heartbreaking”. Jagde sang the role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin just before his arrival in San Francisco for this production, and is due to appear at the Bayerische Staatsoper in the coming season, as well as in new productions in several other international houses.
San Francisco Opera’s upcoming run of Georges Bizet’s Carmen marks the US premiere of a production by director Calixto Bieito, who is known for edgy and provocative interpretations. The action has been moved to the 1970s under Franco’s rule, and a tiny Spanish town across the Strait of Gibraltar, on northern Africa. Tenor Brian Jagde will be singing the role of Don José in all but one of the performances. Enjoy his interview at the following link.
Margaret Downing, Houston Press
Before there was ever the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, there was Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s Rusalka, with a similar, but much darker, story of a water nymph who gives up the life she’s had, as well as her voice, for love.
Brian Jagde (a winner of the Birgit Nilsson Prize at the Operalia competition) will be singing the Prince role, and says there are real differences with the Disney film and musical. “He’s much more of a cad, a guy who’s just really out for women. He does feel something for Rusalka that he’s never felt before.” This doesn’t keep him from pursuing other women even after his marriage.
Minnesota Opera opens its season with Richard Strauss’ comedy about the competition between high art and buffoonery. Soprano Amber Wagner (right) makes her debut with the company as Ariadne, one of her signature roles. The rising star is a resident artist at the Chicago Lyric Opera and has sung frequently at the Met. She will sing opposite tenor Brian Jagde, who portrayed Matteo in Minnesota’s 2013 production of Strauss’ “Arabella.”
Mark Valencia – What’s on Stage
Brian Jagde, Covent Garden’s Pinkerton – ‘fresh off the boat’
The Royal Opera unveils its latest star signing this week as handsome Brian Jagde takes on opera’s most notorious love-’em-and-leave-’em character, Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, in the latest revival of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The young American tenor spoke to WhatsOnStage a few days before the opening.
Gabbie Watts – 90.1 FM WABE Atlanta
Sometimes in the opera world, performers get a call from someone that says, “Will you come star in our opera that’s already in rehearsal?”
Brian Jagde got that call recently to perform as the character Cavaradossi in “Tosca” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
As an up-and-coming lyric tenor superstar, Jagde has already been debuting around the world in leading roles: at the Metropolitan Opera as Count Elemer in “Arabella,” as Don José in “Carmen” at Opéra de Limoges, as Cavaradossi at Santa Fe Opera and Deutsche Oper Berlin, as Alfredo “La Traviata” at Opera Grand Rapids, as Rodolfo in “La Bohéme” with Lorin Maazel and the Münchner Philharmoniker, to name a few.
While hopping from opera company to company throughout the world in these big roles, Jagde holds a deep commitment to music education. In each city he performs, he visits schools, live-tweets performances, answers questions asked through his website and donates to music education programs.
“When I’m in areas, I try and donate my time to schools and sing for kids and talk to kids about opera and about music and anything they really have questions about,” Jagde said. “That’s always fruitful for me because I really enjoy seeing their faces light up. These kids are very interested in these things, and I think it’s a great learning tool for how to live life.”
Emily Wickwire – Chicago Tribune
Whether they are fighting evil forces, throwing off the yoke of oppression or, more often, embroiled in some love-inspired conflict, opera characters lead unusually dangerous lives. And, true to the drama inherent in the genre, they somehow always end up on the wrong side of a blade. From the bloodbath that is Bizet’s “Carmen” to the violence-happy “Porgy and Bess,” composers have shown that no production is truly complete without someone plunging a knife into someone else.
But when it comes to characters meeting surprisingly violent ends, the Lyric Opera’s current production of “Tosca” ranks up there with the bloody best. The performance — which kicks off with a new set of principal cast members, headlined by soprano Hui He in the title role, Friday — showcases its stomach-churning, feral violence in two major stabbing scenes: a climactic confrontation between lead character Floria Tosca (He) and her oppressor, Baron Scarpia (Mark Delavan), that ends in her knifing him in the back and rib cage, then finishing him off by slicing his throat, as well as Tosca’s own ill-fated end by way of a suicidal stab right to the jugular. In adapting such a crazed, psychological act for the opera, one might wonder: What goes into staging such a brutal act?
Jeff Hudson – The Davis Enterprise
Mondavi Center audiences last saw lyric tenor Brian Jagde, he was starring in the October 2013 “Rising Stars of Opera” concert.
Jagde had recently completed his term as one of the San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows, and had appeared in the San Francisco Opera’s 2012 production of “Tosca” in November/December 2013. Jagde sang the role of Caravadossi, and received warm reviews.
Since Jagde sang at Mondavi in 2013, he made his debut with the Metropolitan Opera in April 2014, singing the role of Count Elmer in “Arabella.” He returned to the San Francisco Opera twice in 2014, singing Pinkerton in “Madama Butterfly” in June/July, and reprising his role as Caravadossi in “Tosca” in November/December.
Then Jagde got a call from the Lyric Opera of Chicago in January. The tenor who had previously been booked to sing the role of Caravadossi in their production of “Tosca” had dropped out, just 12 days before opening night. Jagde stepped into the role on short notice, and earned excellent notices for his performance.