Editor’s Note: KQED is a partner of San Francisco Opera. The orgnizations collaborate on the annual broadcast of opera productions.
Staging a night of opera is "a very complicated jigsaw puzzle," says Matthew Shilvock. Music, theater, dance, architecture and writing must be arranged into a coherent whole. Today, the San Francisco Opera announced Shilvock will become their primary puzzlemaster next August, as he steps into the role of general director, replacing David Gockley as he retires after 10 years at the helm of one of the country's biggest opera companies.
Shilvock first came on board with the San Francisco Opera as part of Gockley's transition team a decade ago and went on to become the company's associate general director in 2010. The two men had worked together at Houston Grand Opera for three years prior to coming to the Bay Area, where Gockley was general director and Shilvock was his liaison.
Currently Shilvock manages and leads six departments: music operations, electronic media, education, rehersal, development and the opera's professional artist training programs. Under his guidance, the opera began in 2007 it's program of free live opera simulcasts at the AT&T ballpark. Shilvock also negotiated the media rights to make it possible to commercially release performances on home video, television and the internet.
Over the past 10 years, the San Francisco Opera has transformed from running deep deficits to having relatively stable finances. Some opera aficionados have accused Gockley of staging one too many crowd-pleasing Puccini productions, but he's also known for mounting world premieres and for bringing musicals (including Porgy and Bess, Show Boat and this season's Sweeney Todd) to the opera stage. (Read Charlise Tiee's retrospective of Gockley's years at the San Francisco Opera for more on Gockley's tenure.)