16 Jun 2005
David Gockley on Selling Tickets
When David Gockley became business manager at the Houston Grand Opera in 1970, the company, like most regional troupes in the U.S. at the time, was doing “instant opera.” “There was a guy in north Jersey who had acquired all these old painted drops from Europe,” Mr. Gockley recalls. “He would rent out a generic ‘Tosca’ or ‘Trovatore.’ They came in bags — you stretched the drops on frames.” There was no rehearsal period — singers arrived, performed and left. Mr. Gockley became HGO’s general director in 1972 and immediately changed all that. One of his first productions was “The Marriage of Figaro,” with specially designed sets, a director, and a three-week rehearsal period. “We had a nice cast, including the young Frederica von Stade as Cherubino,” says Mr. Gockley. It cost more than instant opera, but it paid off.