David Gockley (born 13 July 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American opera company administrator. He served as general director of Houston Grand Opera from 1972 to 2005 and has been general director of San Francisco Opera since 2006.
Richard David Gockley was born in Philadelphia in 1943 and grew up in Wayne, Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where he sang with the Jabberwocks, and a master’s degree from Columbia University. According to San Francisco Opera’s website, his father was an athletic coach and inspired his early love for sports, and he inherited a passion for music from his mother. He is the father of three children: Meredith, Lauren, and Adam.
Houston Grand Opera
In 1970, Gockley joined Houston Grand Opera as business manager and was appointed general director in 1972. Under his tenure, Houston Grand Opera presented 35 world premieres and six American premieres. Gockley oversaw the founding of the Houston Grand Opera Studio in 1977, the company’s young artist development program, and the opening of the Wortham Theater Center in 1987. He also introduced “plazacasts,” free broadcasts of mainstage opera productions to outdoor audiences; created OperaVision, a series of screens located throughout the Wortham Center that projected close-up shots of the action on stage; and began annual radio broadcasts of Houston Grand Opera performances in the U.S. and abroad.
After a 33-year tenure as general director, Gockley resigned from Houston Grand Opera in 2005 to assume the post of general director for San Francisco Opera.
San Francisco Opera
David Gockley became San Francisco Opera's sixth general director on January 1, 2006.
Under Gockley's leadership, San Francisco Opera (SFO) has presented the world premieres of Appomattox by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton in 2007; The Bonesetter's Daughter by Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan in 2008; and Christopher Theofanidis and Donna Di Novelli’s Heart of a Soldier in 2011. The company also presented the West Coast premieres of Rachel Portman's The Little Prince and Jake Heggie's chamber opera Three Decembers. San Francisco Opera also presented three world premieres in 2013: Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison’s The Secret Garden, based on the children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett in conjunction with UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances; Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; and Tobias Picker and J.D. McClatchy’s Dolores Claiborne, based on the novel by Stephen King. San Francisco Opera will present the world premieres of La Ciociara by Marco Tutino and Luca Rossi in the summer of 2015, based on novel of the same name by Alberto Moravia, and Dream of the Red Chamber by Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang in fall 2016, based on the work of the same name by 18th-century Qing Dynasty writer Cao Xueqin.
Gockley has overseen the creation of San Francisco Opera's Koret-Taube Media Suite, the first permanent high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility installed in any American opera house according to the company's website.
Through the Koret-Taube Media Suite, David Gockley expanded on the plazacasts he pioneered at Houston Grand Opera with a series of “simulcasts”, live broadcasts of San Francisco Opera mainstage performances to remote locations. The company has presented eight simulcasts throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area, specifically to San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza, Stanford University's Frost Amphitheater, and seven simulcasts presented on the scoreboard at San Francisco's AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. All simulcasts have been presented free to the public, drawing as many as 200,000 people collectively. San Francisco Opera also broadcast a live performance of Don Giovanni to four theaters across Northern California in June 2007.
Gockley continued his OperaVision program at San Francisco Opera and supervised the presentation of four San Francisco Opera productions in movie theaters across the United States. Unlike the Metropolitan Opera, which began live broadcasts of performances to theaters in 2006 using projection systems used for advertising, San Francisco Opera partnered with The Bigger Picture to present four operas in a feature–film quality digital cinema format in 2008.
In 2007, San Francisco Opera returned to national and international radio after 25 years under Gockley’s leadership. Earlier that year, David Gockley announced the appointment of Italian conductor Nicola Luisotti as the company’s new music director, effective September 2009. Luisotti is the company’s third music director following Sir John Pritchard and Donald Runnicles. In January 2009, Gockley announced the reappointment of Patrick Summers as principal guest conductor and named Giuseppe Finzi as the company’s new assistant music director.
In May 2011, it was announced that Gockley’s contract was to be extended through SFO’s 2015–16 season.
Awards and honors
- Dean’s Award for “Distinguished Professional Achievement,” Columbia University Business School
- Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, University of Houston, 1992
- Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts, Brown University, 1993
- William Rogers Award, Brown University, 1995
- History of Houston Grand Opera on HGO's official website
- Biography of David Gockley on San Francisco Opera's official website
- Joshua Kosman, "The Populist Innovator," San Francisco Chronicle, January 2006
- Brown University News Bureau, "Opera Maverick David Gockley To Receive 1995 William Rogers Award," February 1995
- Joshua Kosman, "The Opera's next director has big plans," San Francisco Chronicle, February 2005
- OPERA America official website
- Daniel Wakin, "San Francisco Opera Names a New Director," The New York Times, February, 2005
- Anthony Tommasini, "Appomattox," New York Times, October 2007
- Joshua Kosman, "Opera review: The Bonesetter's Daughter," San Francisco Chronicle, September 2008
- Cori Ellison, "Opera Recalls A Hero’s Life, Love and Song," New York Times, September 2011
- San Francisco Opera press release announcing 2012-13 season
- San Francisco Opera press release announcing 2014-15 season
- History of San Francisco Opera on company's website
- History of San Francisco Opera on company's website
- Joshua Kosman, "DATE LINES," San Francisco Chronicle, May 23, 2007
- Jessie Hamlin, "Grand opera gets grander with state-of-the-art screens," San Francisco Chronicle, June 2007
- Daniel Wakin, "Met has New Rival in Operas at Movies," The New York Times, December 2007
- Sarah Duxbury, "S.F. Opera bows on the big screen," San Francisco Business Times, December 2007
- Joshua Kosman, "S.F. Opera to return to radio after 25 years," San Francisco Chronicle, March 2007
- Joshua Kosman, "Nicola Luisotti named Opera's music director, starting in 2009," San Francisco Chronicle, January 2007
- Joshua Kosman, "San Francisco Opera tightens belt for 2009-10," San Francisco Chronicle, January 2009
- Joshua Kosman, "David Gockley seeks to overhaul S.F. Opera funding," San Francisco Chronicle, May 7, 2011
- Cummings, David, International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, Cambridge, England: Routledge; 17 edition June 13, 2000. ISBN 978-0-948875-53-3
- San Francisco Opera's official website
- Houston Grand Opera's official website
- Gockley, David and Louis Marchiafava. David Gockley Oral History, Houston Oral History Project, June 12, 1976.