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Press Released: 13 Aug 2012

Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. Begins Term as Chairman of OPERA America’s Board of Directors

Eight New Members Also Elected to the Board

OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera, is pleased to announce that Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. became the first opera company trustee in the organization’s entire 42-year history to be elected Chairman of its Board of Directors. Dr. Lindemann began her term at OPERA America’s recent Annual Business Meeting — held during Opera Conference 2012 in Philadelphia — where eight new members were also elected to the Board.

The eight newly-elected Board members are: Daniel Biaggi (General Director, Palm Beach Opera), James Feldman (Board President, Washington National Opera), William Florescu (General Director, Florentine Opera Company), Christopher Hahn (General Director, Pittsburgh Opera), Barbara Leirvik (opera patron), Susan F. Morris (Board Chairman, The Santa Fe Opera), Esther Nelson (General and Artistic Director, Boston Lyric Opera) and Francesca Zambello (Artistic & General Director, The Glimmerglass Festival).

Dr. Lindemann, a trustee of the Metropolitan Opera, is the first non-general director to serve as Chairman of the OPERA America Board of Directors. She takes over the Chairmanship from Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, whose term was completed. Mr. Freud was warmly thanked for his service and valuable contributions to the organization and will continue to serve as a Board Member, as outlined in the by-laws.

“I am delighted to work with Frayda in her new role at this exciting moment in OPERA America’s history, with the opening of the National Opera Center in September,” stated President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “As a Board Member, Frayda has brought a fresh perspective to the leadership of our organization. Her experience as an opera company trustee informs our broader service to the thousands of Board members who help sustain their companies across the country. I am also very pleased to welcome eight outstanding new members to our Board,” continued Scorca. “Each of these individuals, representing the administrative, business, governance and artistic spheres of our industry, brings a different set of valuable skills to OPERA America.”

In addition to the election of new Board Members, Gregory Swinehart (Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP) and Darren K. Woods (Fort Worth Opera) were both re-elected to a second three-year term. Mr. Woods was also re-elected as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Artistic Services Committee. Current Board Member David Bennett (Gotham Chamber Opera) was elected Chairman of the Governance Committee and in that capacity, a Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors. The following officers of the Board were re-elected to their posts and committee chairmanships: Vice-Chairman and Opera Center Committee Chairman Stephen Trampe (Owen Development, St. Louis), Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman Timothy O’Leary (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) and Secretary and Membership Committee Chairman James W. Wright (Vancouver Opera).

As of the June meeting, four members of the Board of Directors completed their terms and were thanked for their years of dedicated service to the organization: Peter Gelb (The Metropolitan Opera), David Gockley (San Francisco Opera), Charles MacKay (The Santa Fe Opera) and Steven Sharpe (Opera Santa Barbara).

The OPERA America Board of Directors oversees the organization’s portfolio of programs, including professional development activities, educational offerings and grant opportunities such as The Opera Fund. The Board of Directors meets three times per year and the next meeting will take place in November in Dallas, TX.

New Board Chair

Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D.
Trustee, Metropolitan Opera

Frayda B. Lindemann is vice president of the Metropolitan Opera Association, member of the Executive Committee, and has been a managing director of the board since 1991. She is also a member of the board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 2012 she was elected Chairman of the Board of OPERA America, the national organization that supports the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera, and provides artistic and educational services to opera companies and their communities.

For many years, Dr. Lindemann has given time and support to the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera, which provides training for exceptionally gifted young singers; the program has introduced a new generation of artists who are currently performing at the Metropolitan Opera and other opera houses. For 35 years, she also supported young musical talent through her work with Young Concert Artists.

Dr. Lindemann received a Ph.D. in musicology from Columbia University in 1978. She was associate professor in the music department of Hunter College for 12 years and now serves as co-chair of the Music Advisory Board at Hunter.

New Board Members

Daniel Biaggi
General Director, Palm Beach Opera

Now entering his third season as general director of Palm Beach Opera, Daniel Biaggi is committed to expanding the company’s mission of presenting high-quality opera productions and engaging educational and community outreach performances to the communities it serves. Previously, Biaggi was associate director at Guy Barzilay International Artist Management in New York, co-managing the careers of over 40 singers worldwide. He has served on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music and Sarah Lawrence College in New York, coaching singers in operatic and art song repertoire. He has worked extensively for the Metropolitan Opera Guild, giving pre-performance introduction lectures and participating in the organization’s various Teaching Artist Programs as performer and educator. A frequent panel discussion guest and competition judge, Biaggi has served among others as panelist for Opera Conference 2008 in Denver, and has been jury member for the Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant Competition and Awards Nomination Panel, Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition and Shreveport Opera Singer of the Year Competition. His commitment to young singers has led him to be invited to MissionAudition as part of Sherrill Milnes’s V.O.I.C.Experience, NYIOP pre-selection auditions in New York, Berlin and Zurich, and has been advisor and judge for the National Society of Arts and Letters Local Florida Chapter Competition. Biaggi holds post-graduate and master’s degrees in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music, a bachelor’s of music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a certificate of musicology from the University of Berne, Switzerland.

James Feldman
Board President, Washington National Opera

James Feldman has served as an instructor in law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School since January 2009 and is an attorney in Washington, D.C., specializing in Supreme Court litigation. Feldman was an assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to 2006, with responsibility for representing the government, where he argued 45 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as a law clerk for United States Court of Appeals Judge Skelly Wright and Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, and as part of the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel team. He serves on the boards of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Washington National Opera. Feldman received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in philosophy from Columbia University and graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.

William Florescu
General Director, Florentine Opera Company

William Florescu became the general director of Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera Company in May 2005. During his tenure, he has overseen the expansion of the company’s repertoire, producing works including the first Bellini opera (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), first Baroque opera (Handel’s Semele), the Midwest premiere of Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry (the professional commercial recording of which won two GRAMMY Awards) and a world premiere of Don Davis’s Río de Sangre (also available in a commercial recording). In October 2008, Florescu oversaw the creation of the Florentine Opera Studio, a season-long residency program for young professional singers, which enters its third year during the 2010-2011 season. Florescu is a frequent judge of vocal competitions, most recently for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, The Eastman School of Music, The Montreal International Czech and Slovak Voice Competition and Fort Worth Opera’s McCammon Vocal Competition. He has served on the Opera Review Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts, and as an on-site reporter for the NEA. He is a member of the board of directors for the Creative Alliance of Greater Milwaukee. Florescu is currently maintaining a blog about auditioning in opera for young singers. He received his training at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Trinity College of Music in London, Miami University and Ohio State University.

Christopher Hahn
General Director, Pittsburgh Opera

Christopher Hahn was appointed general director of Pittsburgh Opera in 2008, having served as artistic director since 2000. Since then, he has significantly enriched the company’s repertoire, introducing Baroque and contemporary operas presented in a variety of production styles. Trained in his native South Africa, Hahn began his career in opera in 1983 at San Francisco Opera as rehearsal administrator. He then managed the San Francisco Opera Center, including the world-renowned Merola Opera Program, a training program for American singers. Following his 13-year tenure in San Francisco, he served as artistic administrator at Los Angeles Opera with Plácido Domingo and Peter Hemmings. Hahn’s expertise in recognizing young vocal talent has made him a sought-after juror at American and international vocal competitions, including the Bernstein Competition (Jerusalem), Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition, the Francisco Viñas Competition (Barcelona), the McAllister Awards and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Barbara Leirvik
Opera Patron

A former OPERA America board member, Barbara Leirvik was a trustee of Opera Cleveland, serving on the company’s executive committee, and a founding member and trustee board member of N.O.V.A. (New Organization for Visual Arts). Leirvik has chaired and served on fundraising events for these organizations as well as the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland and the Cleveland Ballet for the past 30 years. In addition, she is an ambassador member of OPERA America and supports the Cleveland Institute of Music, the CIM Opera Department, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chautauqua Institution and Chautauqua Opera. Leirvik is visual artist who specializes in painting on furniture and canvas, and worked for many years as a commercial interior designer. She is married to businessman and investor Ronald K. Leirvik.

Susan F. Morris
Board Chairman, The Santa Fe Opera

Susan F. Morris attended her first Santa Fe Opera performance as part of the Gala Opening Celebration for the company’s 40th season in 1996. As a token of her admiration for the company’s founder and general director, Morris and her husband established the John Crosby Production Endowment Fund, which each season helps to underwrite one production. She became a member of the board of directors of The Santa Fe Opera in 1999 and was later elected vice president in 2001 and president in 2003, serving until 2011. During that time, she chaired the Building a Sound Future Campaign, providing the single largest gift to the $30 million multi-year campaign to improve rehearsal and patron facilities. Morris was a hands-on president, bringing to the opera her extensive experience from the board of trustees of her alma mater, the Masters School and providing advice and support to Richard Gaddes, the company’s second general director. She spearheaded the search for the company’s third general director, identifying and then recruiting Charles MacKay for the position. In her leadership capacity, she participated in the strategic planning process undertaken by the board of directors in concert with MacKay. Morris has advocated for the company with the Mayor and City Council, and also walked the halls of the state capitol to campaign on behalf of The Santa Fe Opera with state legislators. “The Morris’s contributions to both institutions are immeasurable, and a lasting legacy to their passion and commitment to the operatic art form,” observed Charles MacKay, general director, The Santa Fe Opera.

Esther Nelson
General & Artistic Director, Boston Lyric Opera

Esther Nelson combines an extensive career in the arts with significant management expertise. Nelson was, until the fall of 2002, the general director/CEO of Glimmerglass Opera, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious opera festivals. During her seven-year tenure, the company experienced significant artistic growth and fiscal stability, including the elimination of its accumulated deficit and development of a surplus. Her leadership earned her a professional citation from the governor of New York. Her previous General Director positions include Nevada Opera and Triangle Opera (North Carolina). She was also Director of Virginia Opera/Richmond, and held a senior management position at New Orleans Opera. Prior to joining Boston Lyric Opera in September 2008, she was a management consultant for clients such as the New York Historical Association, their research library and their associated Fenimore Art Museum; the Farmers’ Museum (Cooperstown, NY); the European International Music and Arts Foundation; the Cultural Diplomacy Institute (New York and Berlin, Germany); Albany Symphony Orchestra (New York); The Douglas Moore Fund (New York City); Foothills Performing Arts Center (Oneonta, NY); Virginia Opera; Memphis and Portland (Maine) Operas. Other previous board memberships include the Spring Brook Home for Adults and Children with Disabilities, and the international executive committee of the Friends of Amerika Haus, Berlin, Germany. Nelson was also a frequent evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and the executive and finance committees of Assurant Insurance Company of New York State.

Francesca Zambello
Artistic & General Director, The Glimmerglass Festival

Francesca Zambello officially assumed the role of Glimmerglass's artistic & general director on September 1, 2010. An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Zambello’s work has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Covent Garden, the Munich Staatsoper, Paris Opera, New York City Opera, Washington National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and English National Opera. She has staged plays and musicals on Broadway, at the Royal National Theatre, BAM, the Guthrie Theater, Vienna’s Raimund Theater, the Bregenz Festival, Sydney Festival, Disneyland, Berlin’s Theater des Westens and at the Kennedy Center. In May 2011, Zambello was appointed artistic advisor to Washington National Opera. She has been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture, and the Russian Federation’s medal for Service to Culture. Her theatrical honors include three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, Helpmann Award, Green Room Award, Palme d’Or in Germany and the Golden Mask in Russia. She began her career as the artistic director of Skylight Opera Theatre and as an assistant director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Juilliard and Yale. An American who grew up in Europe, she speaks French, Italian, German and Russian. She is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

OPERA America's Board of Directors: FY2013

David Bennett (Vice-Chairman), Gotham Chamber Opera
Daniel Biaggi, Palm Beach Opera
J.A. (Gus) Blanchard, Minnesota Opera
Gregory Carpenter, Opera Colorado
Keith Cerny, The Dallas Opera
Rena M. De Sisto, Bank of America
David B. Devan, Opera Company of Philadelphia
James Feldman, Washington National Opera
William Florescu, Florentine Opera
Allen R. Freedman, opera patron
Anthony Freud, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Christopher Hahn, Pittsburgh Opera
Jake Heggie, composer
Carol F. Henry, Trustee, Los Angeles Opera
Barbara Leirvik, opera patron
Jay Lesenger, Chautauqua Opera
Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. (Chairman), Trustee, Metropolitan Opera
W.R. (Bob) McPhee, Calgary Opera Association
Andreas Mitisek, Long Beach Opera & Chicago Opera Theater
Susan Morris, Trustee, The Santa Fe Opera
Esther Nelson, Boston Lyric Opera
Kevin Newbury, stage director
Timothy O’Leary (Treasurer), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Kenneth Pigott, Trustee, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Norman Ryan, Schott Music Corporation & European American Music Distributors LLC
Marc A. Scorca (President/CEO), OPERA America
Gregory C. Swinehart, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP
Stephen Trampe (Vice-Chairman), Owen Development
Alec C. Treuhaft, IMG Artists
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Darren K. Woods (Vice-Chairman), Fort Worth Opera
James W. Wright (Secretary), Vancouver Opera
Francesca Zambello, The Glimmerglass Festival

Christina Loewen, Opera.ca
Nicholas Payne, Opera Europa


For more information on OPERA America, visit About Us.

For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.