The role of resident conductor at the San Francisco Opera is to be assistant and second-in-command to Music Director Nicola Luisotti, helping with planning, rehearsals, and production and conducting both special events and several mainstage performances.
Luisotti announced on Thursday that effective immediately Giuseppe Finzi, 40, is leaving the post, to be replaced by Spanish maestro Jordi Bernàcer, 38. The announcement says Finzi “has stepped down in order to accept a growing demand of international conducting assignments that conflict with his position in San Francisco.”
Luisotti said it has been “a great pleasure to work with Giuseppe. Now he is called by many theaters all over the world and I am particularly proud about that, like a father who sees his own son realize his personal dream. We will never forget you, and we look forward to your return with Il Barbiere di Siviglia.”
Finzi made his debut in the War Memorial in 2009 and has conducted numerous operas over the past six seasons including Puccini’s La Bohème last November. A Classical Voice review last year said of his La bohème that Finzi was at “his passionate Italianate best,” and under his baton, “the orchestra roiled, sang, and pulled a great ensemble performance in its wake.”
Bernàcer’s appointment begins with the 2015–16 season (which opens on Sept. 11), and it’s effective through December 2017. In the immediate future, Bernàcer serves as musical assistant to Luisotti for Luisa Miller, Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Carlo, in addition to a wide range of musical and rehearsal activities.
“I had the great pleasure of working with Jordi twice in Valencia and he is a fantastic musician,” says Luisotti. “I’m very happy to bring him into the musical life of San Francisco Opera as our new resident conductor.”
Bernàcer, born in Alcoy, Alicante, has studied at the Joaquin Rodrigo Conservatory in Valencia and at the Vienna Conservatory. He has been an assistant to conductors including Georges Prêtre, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, Sir Andrew Davis and Patrick Fournillier, among others. He has a close relationship with Lorin Maazel who invited him to be associate director of the Castleton Festival in Virginia.
In Spain, Bernàcer conducted Manon in Valencia, Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas at the Palacio Euskalduna, and Chapí’s El Rey que Rabió at the Peralada Festival. He has also conducted Carmen at the Teatr Wielki in Poland, Benjamin Britten’s adaptation of The Beggar’s Opera and an orchestral concert at the Castleton Festival, and the world premiere of Marco Taralli’s Nûr at the Festival della Valle d’Itria in Martina Franca.
He has also been engaged by the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, conducted Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in Naples, and conducted Tosca for Los Angeles Opera. The motto on his Facebook page is a quote from Carlos Palacio: “La música no es ciencia cerrada o disciplina de laboratorio, sino materia viva y sonora para conmover el corazón del hombre” (Music is not a narrow laboratory science or discipline, but living matter and sound to stir the hearts of men.)