One of the consequences of the changing of the guard at San Francisco Opera is the advent of a general director who is perfectly happy on social media and whose name is appearing on a monthly email newsletter to subscribers. I've now seen enough of his writing and speaking - and sense of humor - to be confident that Matthew Shilvock is writing the newsletter himself. (Note: you could almost play Shilvock Bingo with the newsletter and speeches. He likes "incredible" a lot. :) Between his tweets and these newsletters, we know something about his travels and what he is seeing out there.
For example, we know that Matthew was in Santa Fe last summer, and during the fall he saw Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin from the Met general director's box, in company with Peter Gelb, Kaija Saariaho, and Amin Maalouf, the work's librettist. More recently, he saw Evelyn Herlitzius, our upcoming Brünnhilde, in Barcelona, starring in Strauss's Elektra. (I will interject a small complaint here about the fact that every damn opera company in Europe seems to be producing Patrice Chereau's Elektra, his last opera staging, but we are not.)
One ought not draw conclusions based on Travels with Matthew, but if one were prone to overthinking things, one might speculate a bit. And this is complete speculation; I know nothing other than what is out there in public.
1. Santa Fe Opera has commissioned an opera by Mason Bates called The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Bates is a popular guy in San Francisco, with SF Symphony commissions and a Beethoven/Bates Festival to his name, not to mention, a Grammy-nominated CD.
If I were the general director of a prominent opera company that is situated at the north end of Silicon Valley, in a city overrun with young (and not so young) nerds who work for companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, and, yes, Apple, and I had an interest in attracting more young, well-off audience members, well, I would be chatting with Santa Fe about doing the second bring-up of an opera about the loved and hated founder of Apple. Note: as announced, it also has a smallish cast, which, in these economic times, is always welcome.
2. L'Amour de Loin is among the most successful recent operas, owing to the shimmering beauty and intensity of its music. Coincidentally, it also has a small cast, with just three characters and what looked like a subset of the huge Met chorus. It can easily be done on a unit set with no scene changes. There have been enough different productions that SFO would have a choice of stagings and would not have to develop its own production.
This would be a great choice for SFO to put on, especially given (ahem) that I think the main stage has never seen an opera composed by a woman. (Rachel Portman's The Little Prince was done at Zellerbach in 2008.) Saariaho is one of the greatest composers of our age. If SFO doesn't do this one, let me heartily recommend Adriana Mater, which is what the company should have done in 2015 rather than the pretty awful Two Women, because it is a much more effective and affecting look at the consequences of war and rape.