SF Opera

SF OperaSan Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley announced today that stage director John Copley will receive the San Francisco Opera Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Company to an artistic professional. Copley made his debut with San Francisco Opera in 1982 directing Handel’s Giulio Cesare and this season’s presentation of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro marks his thirtieth engagement with the Company. The Opera Medal will be presented to Copley on stage at the War Memorial Opera House following the September 21, 2010 performance of Le Nozze di Figaro.

“John Copley is a truly great artist who has lent his extraordinary creativity, wit and talent to San Francisco Opera for nearly thirty years,” stated General Director David Gockley. “This Company is fortunate to bear the lasting imprint of his fine work and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to honor him with this medal.”

John Copley’s San Francisco Opera credits include three previous productions of Le Nozze di Figaro; Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Orlando and Semele; six seasons of La Traviata; and the U.S. premiere of Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage; as well as Don Giovanni, Eugene Onegin, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pique Dame, Il Trovatore, Idomeneo, Anna Bolena, Peter Grimes, Manon, and Ariodante. Born in Birmingham, England, he trained at London’s Royal Ballet School and the Central School of Arts and Crafts before joining the Royal Opera as assistant producer and, later, principal resident producer; he has also directed fifteen productions for English National Opera. Among his U.S. credits are Lucia di Lammermoor and Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Lyric Opera of Chicago; RodelindaHansel and Gretel, and Rossini’s Ermione for the Dallas Opera; and the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Bellini’s Il Pirata. Copley’s production of Madama Butterfly inaugurated the Santa Fe Opera’s new theater in 1998. He has also directed in Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, and Brussels, as well as at Milan’s La Scala and several seasons at Venice’s La Fenice. Copley directed the opening production of the Sydney Opera House in 1973 and returned for more than twenty productions there. Recent productions include Giulio Cesare, Norma, and L’Elisir d’Amore at the Met; Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago; Lucia di Lammermoor at Opera Australia; Rodelinda and Le Nozze di Figaro at the Dallas Opera; and La Bohème at Covent Garden.

The San Francisco Opera Medal was established in 1970 by former general director Kurt Herbert Adler in 1970. Past honorees include Dorothy Kirsten (1970), Leontyne Price (1977), Joan Sutherland (1984), Marilyn Horne (1990), Plácido Domingo (1994), Charles Mackerras (1995), Frederica von Stade (1997), James Morris (2001), Samuel Ramey (2003); former San Francisco Opera General Directors Kurt Herbert Adler (1978), Lotfi Mansouri (2001) and Pamela Rosenberg (2005); and former San Francisco Opera Music Director Donald Runnicles (2009). A complete list of Opera Medal recipients follows below.

San Francisco Opera Medal Recipients

1970 – Dorothy Kirsten
1972 – Jess Thomas
1973 – Paul Hager (house stage director)
1974 – Colin Harvey (chorister and chorus librarian)
1975 – Otto Guth
Alexander Fried (San Francisco Examiner music critic)
1976 – Leonie Rysanek
1977 – Leontyne Price
1978 – Kurt Herbert Adler
1980 – Geraint Evans
1981 – Matthew Farruggio (production supervisor and house stage director)
Birgit Nilsson
1982 – Regina Resnik
1984 – Joan Sutherland
1985 – Thomas Stewart
1987 – Régine Crespin
1988 – Philip Eisenberg (music staff)
1989 – Pilar Lorengar
Bidú Sayao
1990 – Janis Martin
Marilyn Horne
1991 – Licia Albanese
1993 – Walter Mahoney (costume shop manager)
1994 – Zaven Melikian (concertmaster)
Michael Kane (master carpenter)
Plácido Domingo
1995 – Charles Mackerras
1997 – Frederica von Stade
1998 – Irene Dalis
2001 – Lotfi Mansouri
James Morris
2003 – Samuel Ramey
2004 – Joe Harris (dresser)
2005 – Pamela Rosenberg
2008 – Clifford (Kip) Cranna (director of music administration)
Ruth Ann Swenson
2009 – Donald Runnicles
2010 – John Copley (stage director)

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