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Orchestra Stories: Barbara Riccardi, First Violin

"I had an auspicious debut with San Francisco Opera Orchestra."

Barbara Riccardi (center) with Violist Jonna Hervig (left) and Violinist Julia Skiff (right) at Stern Grove

"It was 1973; I was home in my barely-furnished $150 a month apartment, lying on my homemade couch, trying to recover from a bicycle accident that had left me with a head injury and 100 stitches on my face, when the phone rang. It was Mr. Adler*. He had already sent flowers, and asked how I was doing, and then urged me to come to work as soon as possible.

"Despite his awkward conducting style the man was a formidable musician as well as an impressive administrator who controlled absolutely everything in the company, and due to his persuasive manner (and the fact that there was no sick leave for non-tenured players in those days), I braved it to go in to work the very next day where I was greeted by my new colleagues who gracefully welcomed the new Frankenstein violinist. It was this warm friendliness that quickly won my loyalty, along with the sleight-of-hand magic of these experienced orchestral accompanists, and the sound of a giant music box enveloping me in the opera pit.”

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