San Francisco Opera Honors General Director David Gockley

Release date: 6/10/2016  


  Celebrating David! Gala Concert June 16, 2016 at the War Memorial Opera House

Renée Fleming, Ana María Martínez, Karita Mattila, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, Heidi Stober, Susan Graham, Daniela Mack, Dolora Zajick, Michael Fabiano, Brian Jagde, Simon O'Neill, Eric Owens, René Pape, San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and Special Guests Salute Gockley's Remarkable 45-Year Career

Conductors Nicola Luisotti, Patrick Summers, Jiří Bělohlávek and John DeMain Lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Hosted by Frederica von Stade and Thomas Hampson


Gockley Gala Booster.pdf Photos Available 


San Francisco Opera celebrates David Gockley’s remarkable career and ten-year tenure as San Francisco Opera General Director with a gala concert at the War Memorial Opera House on Thursday, June 16 at 7 p.m. David Gockley retires from San Francisco Opera in July 2016, culminating a 45-year career as one of today’s most important opera impresarios.

Celebrating David! will honor Gockley’s enormous impact on opera in America with excerpts from seminal operas from his career, including the Ring cycle, Les Troyens, Nixon in China, Susannah and Porgy and Bess, as well as works by Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, Strauss, Verdi and more. Featuring the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus, the gala evening will be hosted by mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and baritone Thomas Hampson (replacing Samuel Ramey), with performances of arias and ensembles by some of today’s leading singers and conductors.

The roster of acclaimed 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; San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows; San Francisco Opera 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. Veteran artist manager Matthew Epstein is the artistic consultant for this concert.

The gala evening includes a pre-performance cocktail reception at the Company’s new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera and a post-performance black-tie dinner with the artists in the Wilsey Center. John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn are gala chairs; honorary co-chairs are Diane B. Wilsey and Lynn Wyatt of Houston. Dianne and Tad Taube are gala dinner hosts. Proceeds from the dinner will support general director special initiatives during the 2015–16 Season.

American Impresario: David Gockley’s Life in Opera

Coinciding with this celebration, the Company announces the publication of American Impresario: David Gockley’s Life in Opera, written by author and journalist Damian Fowler. American Impresario presents the story of Gockley’s extraordinary impact on opera in America. In an insightful and personal section of the book, Gockley offers his own words on the future of opera, the art form that inspired his own, singular journey. American Impresario: David Gockley’s Life in Opera (Chronicle Books; 224-page hardback; $45) will be available through the San Francisco Opera Shop ( beginning June 17. Thanks to a generous sponsorship gift, all proceeds from sales of American Impresario will support San Francisco Opera.  

David Gockley will sign copies of American Impresario immediately following the Sunday matinee performances of Jenůfa on June 19 and Carmen on June 26 at the War Memorial Opera House.

About San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley

David Gockley has been general director of San Francisco Opera since 2006. Under his leadership, San Francisco Opera has commissioned eight world premieres to date, two West Coast premieres and a new production of Wagner’s epic four-opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. In his first months as general director, Gockley took opera to the community with a free outdoor simulcast to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza—the first in the Company’s history—in May 2006. The subsequent twelve simulcasts throughout the Bay Area, including nine at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, have collectively drawn more than 250,000 opera fans. These simulcasts are made possible by the Company’s Koret/Taube Media Suite, which Gockley led San Francisco Opera to create in 2007. It is the first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house.

Gockley’s achievements at San Francisco Opera encompass the creation of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera and the launch of SF Opera Lab at the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater; the appointment of Nicola Luisotti as Company music director; 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; growing San Francisco Opera’s endowment; establishment of the San Francisco Opera Archive; and collaborating with the Company’s more than 900 employees, including eight labor union partners, to produce outstanding opera.

Gockley came to San Francisco from Houston Grand Opera (HGO), where he was general director for more than three decades. By 2006, HGO had 35 world premieres and six American premieres to its credit. Gockley oversaw the creation of the Wortham Theater Center, HGO’s home built entirely with private funds. He also established the Houston Grand Opera Studio (co-founded with composer Carlisle Floyd), dedicated to developing the talents of young singers.

Matthew Shilvock succeeds David Gockley and will become San Francisco Opera's seventh general director effective August 1, 2016.


Tickets for the Celebrating David! concert are priced from $50 to $450 ($450 tickets include premium concert seating and pre-performance reception with David Gockley). Tickets are available at or the San Francisco Opera Box Office at 301 Van Ness Avenue or by phone at (415) 864-3330.

A limited number of VIP packages including the gala reception and post-performance black-tie dinner are also available. For more information and to purchase VIP package tickets, call San Francisco Opera’s Medallion Society Ticket Concierge at (415) 565-6447.

For the complete press release, please view the attached PDF