He has a dream

The General Director of the San Francisco Opera has a vision for the future of the company, and it’s…a multi-storied annex?

David Gockley has a dream, and it’s to transform a parking lot behind the Veterans Building into a multi-storied annex for the San Francisco Opera.

Of course, like any dream, there is a reality check. In this case, it’s about $60 million.

That’s the preliminary cost analysis to build the annex in the historically sensitive Civic Center, according to documents recently submitted to the city’s Capital Planning Committee.

Gockley, the Opera’s general director, points to the benefits of consolidating the opera’s facilities, currently scattered in seven locations across the city, including a scene shop at the foot of Potrero Hill and administrative offices at Ivy and Gough streets.

“Since 1980 we’ve spent $40 million in supporting this ramshackled system,” Gockley wrote in the November Opera newsletter. “If only that money could be spent on the art … or for a building!”

…”If I could leave one legacy to this company,” Gockley wrote in the newsletter, “it would be a centralized facility.”

No doubt a new facility such as this would make life a lot easier for many people in the company, although I think it’s a little disingenous to suggest that a good chunk of that $40 million wouldn’t have been spent in running a centralized facility as well.

But, if I were running an opera company of the stature of San Francisco (which no intelligent board would ever hire me to do), I’d want to be remembered for something a little grander than building a combination office building/scene shop.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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