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General Director

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis invites applications and nominations for the position of General Director, a leader who will embrace the Company’s mission, share the Company’s core values, and guide the Company’s artistic and administrative development in the decade ahead. The position will be available in the early summer of 2018.


The Opportunity

The next General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis will build on a long tradition of excellence, creativity, and innovation in all aspects of opera. S/he will join a Company with a strong balance sheet and a track record of positive financial results. S/he will have the opportunity to collaborate with a dedicated Board, artistic team, and administrative staff in discovering, nurturing, and introducing audiences to many of the creative and performing artists who will define the future of opera in America. S/he will have the opportunity to be cultural leader in one of the country’s most diverse and dynamic cities where the potential for opera to have a major impact is significant.


The Company


The mission of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is to shape the future of opera and to connect diverse audiences through its power and beauty. To accomplish its mission, Opera Theatre produces a world-class opera festival; champions new works; builds new audiences; educates and engages its community through several unique programs and projects; and nurtures the finest opera artists, artisans, and administrators of each generation. By doing so, Opera Theatre strengthens the cultural and economic vitality of the St. Louis community.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis was founded in the spring of 1976 by a small group of opera lovers determined to bring festival-quality opera to the St. Louis area. The company has grown significantly in the past 41 years, but its dedication to high-quality productions of a varied repertory, sung in English by established and emerging artists, and performed with the St. Louis Symphony, continues to this day. In 2006, the Sally S. Levy Opera Center became home to the Company’s administrative staff and provided excellent rehearsal facilities for productions.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis is highly regarded for its long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest artists of the next generation. Backstage talent is developed through the Emerson Behind the Curtain Program. In the past four decades, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has presented 26 world premieres and 27 American premieres. The Company’s extensive year-round education programs reach more than 14,000 young people and help develop future audiences for opera.

The Company is governed by a 52-member Board of Directors and has a year-round artistic and administrative staff of 30, which increases to 500 during the Festival Season. James Robinson is Artistic Director; Stephen Lord is Music Director Emeritus and Special Advisor to the General Director. Several hundred volunteer members of the Opera Theatre Guild and the National Patron’s Council provide invaluable service and support. The 2018 operating budget is $10 million.


The Position

The General Director is the chief executive officer of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and reports to the Board of Directors. S/he provides the leadership and vision that ensure the artistic, financial, and organizational success of Opera Theatre, while raising the Company’s profile and enhancing its reputation for excellence locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. S/he is the spokesperson, advocate, and visible representative of Opera Theatre throughout greater St. Louis. S/he takes an active part in the life of the community and ensures that Opera Theatre embraces, engages, reflects, and celebrates the rich diversity of the St. Louis community.

The General Director oversees the artistic planning and strategic direction of Opera Theatre. S/he leads and directs the artistic and production staff; embraces and advances the Company’s commitment to development of new work; and actively explores opportunities for co-commissions, co-productions, and other collaborative artistic projects.

The General Director is responsible and accountable for the overall management of Opera Theatre’s $10 million business. S/he takes a leadership role in fundraising for the Company. S/he works closely with the Board of Directors to ensure good governance, communication, and transparency. S/he leads a high-performing administrative staff. S/he provides guidance and support to those who serve as volunteers. S/he fosters a culture of success among all stakeholders.

The General Director leads the Company in addressing priorities identified for the five-year period 2015 to 2020 in the areas of: artistic leadership; engagement and experience; human resources, infrastructure, and technology; and capital structure and financial strength.


Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will combine a passion for opera with a proven record of success as a visionary leader and a skilled manager of people, projects, and organizations. S/he will be thoroughly knowledgeable about artists and repertoire, and experienced in producing opera with a professional company in a collective bargaining environment.

The successful candidate will have excellent financial management skills and the demonstrated ability to develop and achieve balanced budgets. S/he will be able to provide guidance and oversight to the professional staff responsible for earned and contributed revenue. S/he will have the creativity and entrepreneurial ability to explore and develop additional revenue streams to support the work of the Company.

The successful candidate will be an enthusiastic fundraiser who is willing and able to devote substantial time and effort to donor cultivation and solicitation. S/he will have excellent written and oral communication skills. S/he will able to speak passionately and persuasively about the value and importance of Opera Theatre.

The successful candidate will be fully aware of the challenges facing American opera companies today. S/he will have a track record for developing productive partnerships and collaboration with other opera companies as well as arts and community organizations. S/he will have the creativity, charisma, and strength of personality to unite the Board, patrons, donors, and staff around a vision and operating strategy for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis that will allow the Company to thrive in the decades ahead.

The successful candidate will welcome the opportunity to live in St. Louis, to be a leader in the arts, and to participate actively in the life of the community. S/he will invest significant time and energy in building relationships within the community.



Compensation, including a generous benefit package, is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience.



Opera Theatre of St. Louis has engaged Catherine French Group to serve as consultants to the Search Committee that is charged with recruiting the next General Director. Catherine French is lead consultant and Christopher Wingert is associate. Mary Carlson, Director of London-based Arts Executive Search, is collaborating with CFG in the recruitment of international candidates.


We ask applicants for the position of General Director to submit a letter that describes specific interest in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and outlines experience and qualifications for the position. Please send with a résumé, salary requirements, and contact information for at least three professional references. Electronic submissions are requested. All applications will be treated as confidential and references will not be contacted without the candidate’s knowledge.


The Search Committee will begin to review credentials and schedule interviews in mid-December. The Committee expects to identify the successful candidate in early 2018.


Please send materials to:

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis – General Director

c/o Catherine French Group

2500 Q Street NW, Suite 623

Washington, DC 20007


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