Monday, October 08, 2018

Depressing Thought of the Day

On the steps of the Palais Garnier tonight, after seeing Berenice for the second time, I was thinking about what a terrific conductor Philippe Jordan is, on the basis of his Tristan and Berenice. There is no way he would give up a job like the one he has for San Francisco Symphony or San Francisco Opera, especially not the Opera. He is music director of the Opera National de Paris, with two opera houses that can simultaneously perform a total of four operas. This anniversary year for opera in Paris is special - that's how you get the budget to stage Les Huguenot and Les Troyens in the same season - but still. It is a great job.

Moreover, if you were a European working in Europe, would you want to work in the US just now, in a location that is a nine-hour flight from London, more from central Europe, given the political situation and our authoritarian-leaning president? I bet that you would not, unless you were already employed in the US and sticking around seemed better than looking for a job in Europe. So at the moment, I am betting on Americans for both of the gigs, not that I have any idea who those Americans might be.


CruzSF said...

Now I'm More depressed than earlier. But I agree with you, both about Jordan and about the difficulty in luring a European conductor to San Francisco at this moment in history. I'm sure there are great American conductors who could be enticed to take over here, at the Opera or across the street, but I don't know who hasn't already been snapped up.

Jordan kept Benvenuto Cellini humming, IMO, even though there were half a million things happening on stage most of the time. I couldn't argue with the music-making at all. I feel lucky to have heard him conduct.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm wondering whether one of them will go to James Gaffigan, who is American and really good, based on the Ariadne in Santa Fe.

Jordan is currently conducting two difficult scores here and doing a great job with both.

Chanterelle said...

The grass is not always greener.

Jordan moves on to Vienna after next season, and I've read only rejoicing on French music Twitter. Admittedly his Wagner has improved since that deadly Ring Cycle 5 years ago--stints at Bayreuth didn't hurt, and the Sellars/Viola Tristan imposed some structure to counter his occasionally wayward impulses. I've heard too much shapeless, sluggish Verdi, Massenet, Gounod in his hands to relish the thought of him taking over--well, anywhere TBH.

San Francisco is handicapped by its geography--at least the East Coast isn't so bad for quick hops from Europe. Time to start grooming more young American talent (there was a NYTimes op ed piece about that very subject). What under-40 Yanks have been winning competitions lately? Alternatively, where is Ludovic Morlot headed after Seattle? (Morlot and Nelsons seem restless enough to carve out careers as pinch hitters, and they're probably not the only ones)

Lisa Hirsch said...

I liked both the Tristan and Berenice, so thank you for rounding out my picture of him. I vaguely remember hearing something similar a while back....

Yeah, SF is hard for lots of performers. Mariusz Kwiecien told a friend it was too damn far, after the Don Carlo here in 2016. I have heard nothing about Morlot's plans.

CruzSF said...

I'd be happy with Gaffigan. I didn't get enough of him when he was based here, and his opera conducting has received good reviews (at least in the reviews I've seen, surely not a comprehensive survey).

The geography of SF is a challenge, I know, for many singers. Apparently, we'll never book Kaufmann. So be it. I hope we haven't heard the last of Kwiecien here, though.

Michael Strickland said...

It's not at all depressing that Americans are going to be considered for top posts, even if the MAGA circumstances are horrifying. For our entire history, high culture and its practitioners were only taken seriously if it came from Europe, which is nonsense. And I LOVE James Gaffigan in all the music that I have heard him conduct over the years, from some of the best Mozart in the world to every modernist composer of the 20th and 21st century. The fact that neither the SF Opera or the SF Symphony have snatched him up is my depressing thought of the day.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The depressing thought is the extent to which our current situation limits the organizations' choices, not that Americans will be considered for, and possible get, the two jobs.

We don't know that Gaffigan hasn't been snatched up! SFS will probably make an announcement sometime between now and the start of the 2019-20 season. SFO is taking its own sweet time.