A special panel discussion Carol Tang, earth scientist and director of public programs at the California Academy of Sciences, Jan Hartley, projection designer for The Ring of the Nibelung
Dr. Clifford (Kip) Cranna is the Director of Musical Administration at the San Francisco Opera, where he has been a member of the administrative staff since 1979. In June 2008 he was awarded the San Francisco Opera Medal, the Company's highest honor. He received his undergraduate degree in choral conducting at the University of North Dakota, and his Ph.D. in musicology at Stanford University, where he specialized in Renaissance and Baroque music history and theory.
Jan Hartley made her San Francisco Opera debut with 2008's Das Rheingold; her designs will be seen throughout the Company's new Ring cycle. She has collaborated with Francesca Zambello on Shostakovich's Moskva, Cheryomushki at Bard College; David Henry Hwong's adaptation of Tibet Through the Red Box in Seattle; and Napoleon by Andrew Sabiston and Timothy Williams at the Shaftsbury Theatre in London. She also designed projections for Walt Disney's Finding Nemo. A member of Ping Chong & Co. since 1983, her work was featured in productions such as Cocktail, Kwaidan, After Sorrow, 98.6, Chinoiserie, Deshima, Skin, A State of Being, and the Ping Chong and Meredith Monk collaboration The Games. She has also worked on a wide array of productions both on and off Broadway and in London's West End. Hartley has received a Drama Desk Award for Bunny, Bunnie and an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence. Recent projects include The Miracle Worker at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey; Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy; and Celia, the Musical by Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado.
Carol Tang spent the last ten years at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. For the first five years, she supervised educational programs -- including programs for outreach, summer environmental education, teen youth development, teacher services, school district-wide science professional development and citizen science. More recently, she served as the Director of Visitor Interpretive Programs and then head of Public Programs. During this period, she had oversight for exhibitions, lifelong learning, and museum engagement and was responsible for all exhibit content and public programs for the museum and aquarium when it re-opened in Golden Gate Park in 2008.
Carol is a member of the American Association of Museums 2012 Annual Meeting National Program Committee, a review panelist for IMLS and NASA, and has been a session leader at several conferences including AAM, Association of Science and Technology Centers, and the California Science Teachers Association. She was a winner of a 2009 AAM Technology award for a museum multimedia tour.
Carol received a BA in paleontology from UC Berkeley, a Ph.D. in geology from University of Southern California, and a Chancellor’s postdoctoral fellowship at the UC Museum of Paleontology. She served as a geology professor at Arizona State University where she worked with inquiry-based science educators and local science centers. She was one of the first group of scientists funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute and held an NSF Geosciences grant to study fossils of the Dominican Republic.
Since his San Francisco Opera debut with the 1993 staging of I Puritani, Michael Yeargan has designed sets and costumes for the Company's productions of The Merry Widow, La boheme, Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Luisa Miller, Das Rheingold, Simon Boccanegra, and the world premieres of A Streetcar Named Desire and Dead Man Walking. Yeargan's North American opera credits include designs for the Metropolitan Opera (Otello, Cosi fan tutte, Ariadne auf Naxos, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Les Contes D' Hoffmann, and the world premiere of Harbison's The Great Gatsby); Los Angeles Opera (Nabucco, The Merry Widow, Stiffelio, Hansel and Gretel); Lyric Opera of Chicago (Antony and Cleopatra, Cavelleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Nabucco, The Pirates of Penzance); the Dallas Opera (Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Hansel and Gretel); Houston Grand Opera (Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree and Susannah); and Glimmerglass Opera (Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Central Park), among others. Internationally, he has designed productions for Welsh National Opera; the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Scottish Opera; Theatre Musical de Paris; Frankfurt Opera; and Opera Australia. A two-time Tony Award winner (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza), Yeargan has also designed New York productions of Terrence McNally's Bad Habits, The Ritz, Awake and Sing, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone. He has worked extensively with regional theaters throughout America and is a professor of stage design at the Yale School of Drama.
Michael Yeargan, set designer for the San Francisco Opera's production of Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle, discusses the challenges of creating American versions of the legendary German epics. Yeargan explains that on American shores the opera has been reworked from the ground up to reflect modern U.S. political and environmental concerns.
Musical drama made up of vocal pieces with orchestral accompaniment, overtures, and interludes. Opera was invented at the end of the 16th century in an attempt by the Camerata (an academy of Florentine poets, musicians, and scholars) to imitate ancient Greek drama, which was known to have been largely sung or chanted. Since no actual Greek music was known, composers had considerable freedom in reconceiving it. Imitations of Greek pastoral poetry became the basis for early opera libretti. The first operas, Dafne by Jacopo Peri (15611633) in 1598 and by Giulio Caccini about the same time, are now lost; the earliest surviving opera is Peri's Euridice (1600). They consisted of lightly accompanied vocal melody closely imitating inflected speech. Claudio Monteverdi, the greatest early operatic figure, composed the first masterpiece, Orfeo, in 1607; unlike its predecessors, it is scored for a small orchestra. With this work, recitative began to be clearly distinguished from aria, an achievement that would prove decisive for opera's future success. In France, Jean-Baptiste Lully produced a prototype for courtly opera that influenced French opera through the mid-18th century. Jean-Philippe Rameau, George Frideric Handel, and Christoph Willibald Gluck were the most significant opera composers of the first two-thirds of the 18th century; their works were surpassed by the brilliant operas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the early 19th century, Gioacchino Rossini and Gaetano Donizetti dominated Italian opera. In the later 19th century the greatest works were those of Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner; the latter, with his bold innovations, became the most influential operatic figure since Monteverdi. Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini wrote the most popular late 19th- and early 20th-century operas. Though the death of Puccini in 1924 is often cited as the end of grand opera, new and often experimental worksby composers such as Alban Berg, Benjamin Britten, Gian Carlo Menotti, John Adams, and Philip Glasscontinued to be produced to critical acclaim. Opera entered the 21st century as a vibrant and global art form. See alsoballad opera; operetta.