Inaugurated in 1923, the SF Opera achieved great renown between 2001 and 2005 under general director Pamela Rosenberg. After bringing the company into rude artistic health, overseeing triumphs such as the 2005 première of John Adams' Doctor Atomic, Rosenberg declined to renew her contract, and handed the reins to David Gockley in 2006. Gockley has since unveiled Appomattox, commissioned from composer Philip Glass and librettist Christopher Hampton. For 2008 the company also planned to present composer Stewart Wallace and local novelist Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter and a new co-production (with Washington National Opera) of Wagner's Ring, beginning with Das Rheingold in 2008 and culminating with the entire cycle in the 2010-11 season. The fall season runs early September to December; the summer season from May to July.
The SF Opera is based in the War Memorial Opera House, a grand Beaux Arts building designed by City Hall architect Arthur Brown Jr and built in 1932 as a memorial to the soldiers who fought in World War I. The 3,176-seat auditorium is modelled on European opera houses, with a vaulted ceiling, a huge art deco metal chandelier and a marble foyer. An $84-million revamp in 1997 not only restored the elegant building (restorers found clouds painted on the ceiling when they scraped away the grime), but installed up-to-date electronics and stage gear. The San Francisco Ballet also performs here.