SF Opera Promotes From Within; Names Matthew Shilvock New General Director

Matthew Shilvock
Matthew Shilvock

Photo Credit: Cory Weaver

It took San Francisco Opera nearly a year to find a replacement for outgoing General Director David Gockley but in the end didn’t have to look very far. Matthew Shilvock, currently the Company’s Associate General Director, has been named General Director of San Francisco Opera and will assume his new position as the Company’s seventh director on August 1, 2016 with a five-year contract through July 2021.

The announcement was made today by Keith Geeslin, President of the San Francisco Opera Association; John Gunn, Chairman of the San Francisco Opera Board of Directors; and Steven Menzies, Chairman of San Francisco Opera Association’s Search Committee and Board Treasurer, at a War Memorial Opera House press conference. Shilvock’s nomination was confirmed at a special Board of Directors meeting on last Friday. Gockley announced in October 2014 his intention to retire in July 2016, concluding a 44-year career as opera impresario.

The selection of Shilvock was the result of a rigorous, ten-month-long, international search led by a committee of 13 members representing a broad cross section of the Board and its leadership.

“We consulted with numerous industry leaders who offered important advice before casting a wide net in our search for the next director,” Geeslin said. “Ultimately, we all agreed that Matthew was the ideal candidate. He understands this Company’s complex operations, has strong artistic and management credentials and is perfectly positioned to build upon the success of David Gockley’s tenure. I am confident that promoting a young leader with great skills and passion for opera from within our Company is the right decision. San Francisco Opera is forward-thinking, boldly innovative, creative and inclusive, and no one better than Matthew embodies those ideals.”

Shilvock, born and educated in England, joined San Francisco Opera in 2005 and has served as Associate General Director since 2010. As Associate General Director, Mr. Shilvock manages and leads five departments: Music Operations (orchestra, chorus, dancers, commissions); Electronic Media; Education; the San Francisco Opera Center (professional artist training programs); and Rehearsal. He currently also serves as Interim Director of Development.

Shilvock said, “I wish to thank the Board leadership and Search Committee for their confidence in offering me the opportunity to be at the helm of this acclaimed international company. It is indeed a humbling invitation, but one I recognize as a great privilege and honor following the legacy of the extraordinary six directors who have led this organization over its storied history.

“San Francisco Opera has a long tradition of finding, nurturing and celebrating the very finest talents. That is as vibrant a part of the Company’s activities today as it ever was, and I am committed to ensuring that we remain on the forefront of artistic excellence and innovation, whether on the glorious stage of the War Memorial Opera House, or through the exciting new possibilities of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera. We will bring to this Company the very finest artists and the most compelling productions, creating holistic presentations that move, transform, empower and entertain audiences. San Francisco Opera tells the world’s most powerful stories, and those stories are as relevant today as they ever have been. We are blessed to exist in a city of such energy and possibility and we are proud to be able to share exciting, powerful productions with this most iconic of communities.

“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the extraordinary impact that David Gockley has had on my career and life. He is a mentor, a friend and truly one of the greatest American opera impresarios. I am forever grateful to him for believing in me and trusting me. Similarly, I have known and worked with Music Director Nicola Luisotti since his Company debut in 2005 with La Forza del Destino. His passion and devotion to this company is inspiring and I look forward to working with him in this new capacity.”

David Gockley
David Gockley

Photo Credit: Terrence McCarthy

Commenting on the selection of his successor, Gockley stated: “Matthew Shilvock is not only the best choice to succeed me, he is the ideal choice. He possesses a mix of personal qualities that is rare: intelligence, sensitivity, patience, respect for others, gentlemanly demeanor, but firmness when need be. His knowledge of the company is encyclopedic. He has been at my right hand every step of the way through critical production, planning and budget meetings, and taken on more authority as time has gone by. The Company’s good labor relations are in large part the result of Matthew’s skillful negotiations. Our media capability is due to his expertise in that area of the business. He is a sensitive musician and a keen judge of talent. He has the respect and trust of the Board, our donors, the nine unions that work in the Opera House, administrative staff and his opera colleagues across the nation and abroad. For every gap in my—and others’—capability, he has filled the hole. I congratulate the San Francisco Opera Board of Directors for making an inspired choice.”

San Francisco Opera Music Director Nicola Luisotti added, “Matthew Shilvock today represents one of the best opportunities for a legendary opera company like ours. His deep knowledge in every sector of the theater is stunning. He understands that San Francisco Opera is a great company and is committed to maintaining its great tradition. I am so excited about this selection of a young man that proves, one more time, that this city is an example for the entire world.”