San Francisco Opera Medal Awarded to David Hockney

Release date: 12/4/2017    


Visionary Artist Presented with Company's Highest Honor Following Performance of Puccini's Turandot in Hockney's Colorful Production 

Opera Medal David Hockney 12.03.2017.pdf  Photos Available

Following the December 3 matinee performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot, San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock presented British artist David Hockney with the Company’s highest honor, the San Francisco Opera Medal. In an onstage ceremony amongst the brilliant red Act III setting of Hockney’s production, which premiered at San Francisco Opera in 1993, the 80-year-old artist received the medal before a sold-out audience.

Shilvock remarked: “Since 1975, David Hockney has been a powerful force in advancing opera as an art form. His productions are bold expressions of archetypal emotions, deeply rooted in a strong sense of spatial resonance and scale. His productions take us—audiences and artists alike—on journeys that allow us to see our world more clearly. He finds rhythm in color and design, and creates portals that we enter with thrilling excitement.”

San Francisco audiences were introduced to David Hockney’s stage work in 1982 with Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, a production that was created for the 1975 Glyndebourne Festival and revived at San Francisco Opera in 1988 and 2000. His striking designs for Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, which premiered at Glyndebourne in 1978, were seen on an American stage for the first time at San Francisco Opera in 1987 and reprised in 1991, 2000 and 2003. His production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, which premiered in Los Angeles in 1981, was staged at the War Memorial Opera House in 2006. The Bradford, England-born artist’s creations for Turandot, a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, premiered in Chicago in 1992 and were staged by San Francisco Opera in 1993, 1998, 2002, 2011 and this season. In September, the San Francisco Chronicle hailed Hockney’s vision for Puccini’s spectacular work as a “vivid, sanguinary production, a whirl of swooping lines cloaked in nightmarish reds and greens … continues to underscore perfectly the alarming power of Puccini’s work.”

Hockney’s career began in 1963 with his first solo exhibition in London. He began designing for the stage in 1966 and, in 1975, began creating sets and costumes for productions of ballets and opera that have been staged at the Glyndebourne Festival; Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Metropolitan Opera; San Francisco Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Los Angeles Opera. His operatic productions also include the triple-bill programs Parade: An Evening of French Music Theater (Satie’s Parade, Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias, Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges) and Stravinsky (Le Sacré du Printemps, Le Rossignol, Oedipus Rex), and Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten.

His vast body of work also includes paintings, drawings, etchings, photographs and print designs for magazines, books, films and videos. Equally praised are his works resulting from a fascination with photocopy and fax machines, still video cameras, computer-generated images and, most recently, the iPhone and iPad. In recognition of his 80th birthday, Hockney has been celebrated internationally throughout 2017 with exhibitions of his work in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles.

Hockney’s production of Puccini’s Turandot at San Francisco Opera, which features Nina Stemme in the title role, Brian Jagde as Calaf, Leah Crocetto as Liù, Soloman Howard as Timur and is conducted by Christopher Franklin and directed by Garnett Bruce, will be presented in two more performances this fall season: Wednesday, December 6 (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, December 9 (7:30 p.m.).


Inaugurated in 1970 by former General Director Kurt Herbert Adler, the San Francisco Opera Medal is awarded at the discretion of the Company for artistic integrity, collegiality and distinguished service to San Francisco Opera. Past recipients of the Opera Medal include sopranos Dorothy Kirsten, Joan Sutherland and Renée Fleming; mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade and Susan Graham; tenor Plácido Domingo; baritone Thomas Stewart; conductors Donald Runnicles, Sir Charles Mackerras, Nicola Luisotti; directors John Copley and Francesca Zambello; and Chorus Director Ian Robertson. The most recent recipient was composer John Adams, who was presented with the Opera Medal on November 21 following the world premiere of his newest opera, Girls of the Golden West.

*For the complete press release, please view the attached PDF.