San Francisco Opera Honors General Director Emeritus

By David Salazar

The San Francisco Opera has announced that David Gockley, the company’s General Director Emeritus and Industry Pioneer was be presented with the company’s highest honor following the July 1, 2018 performance of “Gotterdämmerung.”

Gockley served as the general director from 2006 until he retired in 2016. Under his leadership, the San Francisco Opera commissioned or co-commissioned 11 new works and showcased nine world premieres.

One of his first acts in the position was to present a live outdoor simulcast of a performance; this tradition has continued every year since.

Per a press release, “Gockley’s achievements at San Francisco Opera encompass the appointment of Nicola Luisotti as Company music director and subsequent rejuvenation of San Francisco Opera’s legacy as a leading presenter of Italian repertory; the creation of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, which opened in February 2016; formal establishment of San Francisco Opera’s Education Department, a program that provides annual educational activities, performances and workshops for students, teachers, families and adults; establishment of the San Francisco Opera Archives; reestablished key partnerships with radio and television broadcasters; and collaborating with the Company’s more than 900 employees, including nine labor union partners, to produce outstanding opera.”

Prior to his time with San Francisco Opera, Gockley headed the Houston Grand Opera for more than three decades where he was a major proponent on new works. He earned a Tony, two Emmys, and two Grammy Awards during his time there.

On Sunday night, the award was presented by Gockley’s successor Matthew Shilvock, who noted that “Legions of singers, composers, conductors, directors, and designers have been given ground-breaking opportunities by you, David. You have championed successive generations of artists. You believe so fundamentally in the power of opera that you have, time and time again, made the seemingly impossible a reality. You have pioneered new ways of engaging with the artform. You have made it accessible, compelling, and vital in our lives.”