1. Faculty

Clifford “Kip” Cranna

NOTE: On Sabbatical for 2017-18; Professional Development

"Kip Cranna is one of the most musically erudite of all the people I've had the privilege of working with, and certainly one of the kindest and most generous." —Pamela Rosenberg, Former General Director, San Francisco Opera, 2008


  • Practical Aspects of a Career in Music


  • PhD, Stanford University
  • BA, University of North Dakota


  • San Francisco Opera, Dramaturg 1979–Present


  • San Francisco Opera Medal, 2008
  • Bernard Osher Cultural Award, 2012
  • San Francisco Opera Guild "Star of Excellence" Award

What is your hometown?

Devils Lake, ND

What is your favorite recording?

Chanticleer performing Palestrina's Missa pro defunctis.

What are you passionate about outside of music?


Who were your major teachers?

Sandor Salgo, Imogene Horsley, and Roger Wilhelm.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.”

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How can I find the right career path given my interests and talents?”

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

Singing in Handel's Messiah while in junior high school.

What was a turning point in your career?

Getting hired as an administrator at San Francisco Opera.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I would be a leading cultural tours as a docent.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

Handel, Mozart, and Satie.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Vienna, 1786.

What are your most important collaborations?

Dramaturg for Washington National Opera's Ring of the Nibelung, 2016; thirty years as Program Editor and Lecturer for the Carmel Bach Festival; and 37 years on staff at San Francisco Opera.

What are your academic publications?

The Real People in 'Don Carlo’, San Francisco Opera Program Article, 2016
The Ring of the Nibelung, Washington National Opera, 2016
The Two Faces of Figaro, Opera Colorado Program Article, 2012

What is your unrealized project?

Reading all five volumes of the novel Dream of the Red Chamber.