Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gockley Gala: Sasha Cooke Replaces Susan Graham

Susan Graham is ill, and Sasha Cook is stepping in to sing a couple of numbers. Here's the press release from San Francisco Opera, including Graham's heartfelt tribute to David Gockley. (I won't be at the gala, unfortunately. Duty calls.)

SAN FRANCISCO (June 15, 2016) – San Francisco Opera today announced that it has amended the list of international singers performing at the David Gockley Gala Concert on Thursday, June 16 to now include Sasha Cooke in lieu of Susan Graham, who has withdrawn due to illness. Cooke will sing in the Act III trio “Hab’ mir’s gelobt” from Der Rosenkavalier and Didon’s aria “Ah! Je vais mourir…adieu, fière cité” from Les Troyens.

American mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke made her San Francisco Opera debut in the title role of Mark Adamo’s world premiere opera The Gospel of Mary Magdalene in 2013. She subsequently returned to the War Memorial Opera House in 2015 as Anna in Les Troyens and later as Magdalene in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Cooke is a frequent collaborator with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony appearing in concerts both locally and on tour.

Susan Graham has sent the following message to David Gockley and the Company:

“To say that David Gockley has greatly contributed to the course and arc of opera in America, would be an understatement. We are all aware of his championing of new works, and supporting American composers in Houston and in San Francisco. With one of the earliest young artist programs in America, created at the Houston Grand Opera under his long tenure there, it’s obvious his care and nurturing of young singers was a priority from the beginning.

“Growing up in Texas, I was always aware of the impact David was making with HGO, and when I was finally hired there, I got to witness his love for singers and singing firsthand, which continued to flourish in San Francisco, forging and unifying this company in the last 10 years. He believed in me, challenged me, supported me, and in last summer’s Les Troyens here at SFO, he gave me the greatest operatic experience of my entire career.

“He is unique in his field, with his experience as a singer, his vast knowledge of the profession, and his passionate devotion to the highest quality. I love this guy, and I wish him and Linda Kemper a beautiful, RELAXING, well-deserved life in retirement, confident that the Gockley Impact will be felt for generations.”

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