CELEBRATING 100 YEARS THROUGH AUDIO

Streaming the First Century

Introduction

San Francisco Opera enjoys a vast recorded legacy. Throughout its history, the Company’s performances have been set into shellac grooves, punched into paper rolls, recorded onto wires or magnetic tape, converted into digital signals, and streamed over the internet to listeners around the world. This Centennial Season, San Francisco Opera is opening the vault and sharing a selection of preserved treasures from its first 100 years.

Company founder Gaetano Merola’s enthusiasm for emerging technologies ensured that San Francisco Opera was on the air in the early 1920s when radio was still in its infancy. Several performances from the 1930s were recorded off the airwaves and, beginning in the 1960s, new devices allowed even non-broadcast presentations to be preserved, sometimes surreptitiously. Still later, San Francisco Opera’s industry-pioneering Taube Media Suite allowed performances from 2007 onward to be captured in HD. Nearly 50 titles from that still-growing catalog of operas were streamed on-demand during the pandemic while the stage was otherwise dark, and the Media Suite will enable each production during the 2022–23 Season to be livestreamed and preserved.

Streaming the First Century features 25 precious audio artifacts from previous seasons to open a series of magical portals into the Company’s first 100 years, allowing us to experience, as if through time travel, the moments that touched the hearts of generations of audiences and continue to move us.

Guided by the repertory of the Centennial Season, four interactive sessions will be released, each including two complete San Francisco Opera performances (with synopses, rare photos, and original program articles), four excerpted operas (with text and translations), an array of archival artist interviews, and new conversations among San Francisco Opera artisans and administrators spanning the decades. Scholars, performers, and Company members introduce and provide insight into each audio document, opening new pathways of discovery and allowing all to listen through their experienced ears.

Released every four weeks, each new session of Streaming the First Century offers myriad pathways to stream your way through San Francisco Opera’s distinguished past. Expect to be surprised, thrilled, moved, and to marvel at the infinite agility and expressiveness of the human voice. Make your way down the rabbit hole and, with these beguiling voices and legendary performances still ringing in your ears, we hope your journey with San Francisco Opera continues well into the next century.

Jeffery McMillan and Barbara Rominski, Streaming the First Century co-editors

EXPERIENCE SAN FRANCISCO OPERA LIKE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE

Session 1: Slavic Sensibilities

SESSION 1: Slavic Sensibilities
SESSION 2: Parlez-vous français?

Session 2: Parlez-vous français?

Session 3: Italian Roots

SESSION 3: Italian Roots
SESSION 4: Ho jo to ho!

Session 4: Ho jo to ho!

Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

Project Team

Jeffery McMillian

Co-Editor, Public Relations Director

Jeffery McMillan

Barbara Rominski

Co-Editor, Director of Archives

Barbara Rominski

Jodi Gage

Media Producer

Jodi Gage

Jeremy Patfield

Director of Production Operations & Media

Jeremy Patfield

Ellen Presley

Special Projects Manager

Ellen Presley

Uwe Willenbacher

Recording Engineer / Engineer in Charge

Uwe Willenbacher

Contributors

Christine Bullin

Interview, Session 4

Christine Bullin

Mark Burford

Writer, Sessions 1, 3, and 4

Mark Burford

Pierre Cayard

Interview, Session 3

Pierre Cayard

Kip Cranna

Writer, Interview, Sessions 1, 2, 3, and 4

Kip Cranna

Robert Darling

Interview, Session 4

Robert Darling

John Del Bono

Interview, Session 3

John Del Bono

Stan Dufford

Interview, Session 1

Stan Dufford

Ann Farris

Interview, Sessions 1 and 4

Ann Farris

David Gockley

Interview, Session 3

David Gockley

Sheri Greenawald

Interview, Session 4

Sheri Greenawald

Lori Harrison

Interview, Sessions 1 and 2

Lori Harrison

Judith Malafronte

Writer, Sessions 3 and 4

Judith Malafronte

Interview, Session 3

Ward Marston

Thomas Munn

Interview, Session 2

Thomas Munn

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen

Writer, Session 3

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen

Kenneth Overton

Writer, Sessions 2, 3, and 4

Kenneth Overton

Jeanna Parham

Interview, Session 1

Jeanna Parham

Justin  Partier

Interview, Session 2

Justin Partier

Roger Pines

Writer, Sessions 1, 2, 3, and 4

Roger Pines

Interview, Sessions 1, 2, and 4

Ian Robertson

Pamela Rosenberg

Interview, Session 2

Pamela Rosenberg

Larry Rothe

Writer, Sessions 1, 2, 3, and 4

Larry Rothe

David Shengold

Writer, Sessions 1, 2, and 4

David Shengold

Ira Siff

Interview, Session 3

Ira Siff

Paul Thomason

Writer, Sessions 2 and 4

Paul Thomason

Maurice Wheeler

Writer, Session 1

Maurice Wheeler

Francesca Zambello

Interview, Sessions 1, 3, and 4

Francesca Zambello

Made Possible By

Streaming the First Century is one of our many Innovation Programs made possible, in part, by the Creative Edge Fund with major support from founding funders Carol and Dixon Doll, Peter Fenton and Kate Greer, and Bob Ellis. Additional support provided by Julie Dickson.

The Taube Media Suite is made possible in part, by Dianne and Tad Taube and John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn.