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.

Hosted by Frederica von Stade and Thomas Hampson, the line-up of artists includes sopranos Renée Fleming, Ana María Martínez, Karita Mattila, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra and Heidi Stober; mezzo-sopranos Catherine Cook, Susan Graham, Daniela Mack and Dolora Zajick; tenors Michael Fabiano, Brian Jagde and Simon O’Neill; bass-baritone Eric Owens; bass René Pape and San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows. They will perform arias and ensembles from significant works which have been staged during Gockley’s time at SF Opera – works such as the Ring cycle, Les Troyens, Nixon in China, Susannah and Porgy and Bess, as well as works by Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss and Verdi.

The San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus will be led by the Company’s Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers and guest conductors Jiří Bělohlávek and John DeMain. The concert will also feature video appearances by special guest artists . . .

Tenor Brian Jagde is just one of the artists who has reason to be enormously grateful to Gockley. “I am honored and very excited to be performing at the Gala,” he said. “David has been instrumental in helping build my career. His support has been invaluable in the transition from being a young artist to singing principal roles here in San Francisco and around the world. Sometimes words simply can’t do justice in recognizing such an incredible legacy, so I can’t think of a better way to thank him for his many years of dedication to SFO and the community and to all of us as artists, than through music. It will definitely be an unforgettable experience to perform in an event that features such great colleagues, and of course highlights the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus led by phenomenal maestros.”

Gilly Lloyd – Examiner.com

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