* Notes *
Today the Communications Department of San Francisco Opera held a press conference on Heart of a Soldier, which will have a world premiere on September 10, 2011. General Director David Gockley told us a bit about how this came to be an opera. An array of individuals were introduced: Susan Rescorla, one of the people whose story is being told in this opera; James B. Stewart, the author of the non-fiction work the opera is based on; librettist Donna DiNovelli; composer Christopher Theofanidis; conductor Patrick Summers; and director Francesca Zambello. Zambello evidently came to Gockley with Stewart's book, saying that the story had operatic themes with two incredible love stories.
This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Kip Cranna, who asked each person involved a few key questions. DiNovelli condensed Stewart's 320 page book into a mere 26. The piece is complete and has been workshopped in the last few days. Theofanidis took Tosca as his starting point and loves verismo. The work uses a full orchestra but also employs saxophone, bagpipe, and electric guitar.
The opera stars Thomas Hampson (Rick Rescorla), William Burden (Daniel J. Hill), and Melody Moore (Susan Rescorla). We got to hear a duet from the piece accompanied by piano, sung by Melody Moore and Austin Kness.
* Tattling *
The audience consist of the press, board members, colleagues from other performing arts organizations, and San Francisco Opera staff. Everyone seemed very attentive.