Commentary

John Patrick Ford

Ford is a past president of San Diego Opera and supports the opera archive at San Diego State University.

Opera Scene

The founding general director of San Diego Opera, Walter Herbert, was an advocate of contemporary opera. This was risky for a new company attempting to build an audience normally addicted to the traditional operas of Verdi, Puccini and Rossini.

What began as a finale for San Diego Opera ended with a successful 50th anniversary season propelling the company to a new life.

San Diego was privileged to feature opera diva Beverly Sills in eight productions from 1970 to 1980, the year of her retirement from the opera stage.

The first mariachi opera presented by San Diego Opera in 2013 was a great success. It gave our arts groups an opportunity to reach out to the Latino community while entertaining a traditional opera audience with an entirely new form of musical theater.

Grand opera has its share of fallen women, betrayed women and women who are victims of their devoted love for an unfortunate loser.

There’s no doubt that President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 was one of the significant historical events of the late 20th century. It was an incredible occasion, considering that Nixon was the leader of the free world and Mao Zedong was the leader of the largest communist country.

In observing the 50-year history of the San Diego Opera, it is interesting to consider the company's regional premieres and operas seldom performed.

Mozart was forward-thinking as an opera composer. His “Magic Flute” was crafted as a German-language singspiel with Masonic mystique to be performed in a Viennese venue equivalent to a London music hall.

I wrote a story for the San Diego Opera program in 1999 about Karen Keltner, the resident conductor, who stood at 5 feet 3 inches. It was appropriate to title the profile “Big Step to the Podium.”

Those carefree bohemians are regular visitors to the San Diego Opera stage. This is their 11th arrival since the premier in 1965 as the first production of the new company.

After enduring a threatened closing, San Diego Opera will open its 50th season in January with grand opera and other musical events. I usually identify a theme that is common with the operas, but the 2015 season covers so many subjects that I cannot identify a common one.

Editor’s Note: In celebration of San Diego Opera’s 50th year of bringing world-class performances to the community, a series of preseason and postseason stories about historical events from the company’s repertory will be added to the “Opera Scene” column, as well as previews of the 2015 season and each scheduled performance.

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