Longtime national and Bay Area critic Stephanie von Buchau was found dead in her Larkspur, Calif. home on Dec. 19. The 67-year-old had been in ill health from diabetes and a recent fall. She was discovered after missing a deadline– an occurrence so unusual that an editor had police check her residence.
The San Francisco native was a colorful, prolific, sometimes controversial scribe known for her depth of knowledge and strong opinions on film, dance, opera, classical music and theater.
Generous in praise, she was frequently hilarious in less favorable commentary, delivering witty assessments in a style both blunt and elegant. In 1975 her print estimation of an inexperienced guest conductor so enraged S.F. Opera’s then-director that he blackballed her press tickets — though the resulting outcry saw them restored the next season.
In recent years she was a regular contributor to Marin Count’s Pacific, S.F.’s Bay Area Reporter and national glossy Opera News, as well as San Francisco Magazine, the S.F. Examiner, and Oakland Tribune. She also authored of program notes for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, and other institutions.
She is survived by her mother and a brother.