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Press Released: 25 Jun 2013

OPERA America Welcomes Four New Members to its Board of Directors and Re-Elects Seven Current Members

OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera, is proud to announce that four new members have been elected to its Board of Directors. Elections were held during OPERA America’s recent Annual Business Meeting at Opera Conference 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Serving first terms are Melia P. Tourangeau (President & CEO, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera in Salt Lake City, UT), Kathryn Smith (General Director, Madison Opera) and Nicole Paiement (Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor, Opera Parallèle in San Francisco, CA). Returning after a required hiatus is Charles MacKay (General Director, The Santa Fe Opera). MacKay previously served on the Board of Directors from 1997-2012, having been elected to the offices of Chairman (2004) and Vice Chairman (1998-2004).

“It is a great honor to welcome these outstanding members to our Board of Directors,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Nicole, Kathryn, Melia and Charles lead opera companies that exemplify the broad spectrum of the industry today — from presenting world premieres in unusual and intimate venues to mounting classic repertoire on grand stages to designing meaningful programs for their communities. As a result of their demonstrated leadership, strategic and agile decision-making and commitment to our art form, voting was unanimous and enthusiastic.”

Seven current members of the Board of Directors were re-elected to a second term:

  • J.A. “Gus” Blanchard: trustee emeritus, Minnesota Opera
  • Gregory Carpenter: general director, Opera Colorado
  • Rena M. De Sisto: global arts, culture and international CSR executive, Bank of America
  • David B. Devan: general director and president, Opera Philadelphia
  • Allen R. Freedman: opera patron
  • Jake Heggie: composer
  • Andreas Mitisek: general and artistic director, Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater

Five officers of the Board of Directors were re-elected to their posts:

  • Darren K. Woods (general director, Fort Worth Opera) as Vice-Chairman and Artistic Services Committee Chairman
  • Stephen Trampe (trustee, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and president, Owen Development) as Vice-Chairman and Opera Center Committee Chairman
  • David Bennett (executive director, Gotham Chamber Opera in New York City) as Vice-Chairman and Governance Committee Chairman
  • Timothy O’Leary (general director, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) as Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman
  • James W. Wright (general director, Vancouver Opera) as Secretary and Membership Committee Chairman.

The OPERA America Board of Directors oversees the organization’s portfolio of programs, including professional development activities, research and advocacy, educational offerings and grant initiatives such as the Building Opera Audiences program and The Opera Fund in support of new works. The Board of Directors meets three times each year, and the next meeting will take place in October in Washington, D.C.

Board of Overseers Created
At the same meeting, OPERA America established the National Opera Center Board of Overseers. Members of the Board of Overseers, collectively and individually, assist the OPERA America Board of Directors and senior staff in fulfilling the vision of the National Opera Center and, through it, advancing the mission of OPERA America.

The following individuals have accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Overseers: John Baumgartner (New York), Emilie Roy Corey (New York), Henry Cox (Delaware and Washington D.C.), Jane Gross (New York), Stephen Prystowsky (North Carolina) and Brett Stover (Ohio).

New Board Members

Charles MacKay
General Director, The Santa Fe Opera

When Charles MacKay succeeded Richard Gaddes as general director of The Santa Fe Opera in 2008, he became only the third individual to hold that title in the company's 55-year history. Raised in Santa Fe, MacKay had held several positions at The Santa Fe Opera in his early career, including French horn player, box office manager, development and sales manager, and business manager. Following positions with the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. in Charleston, SC, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, MacKay joined Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and was named general director in 1985. During his 23-year tenure, the company gained national and international acclaim for the presentation of innovative repertory and the discovery of important young singers. A frequent adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, MacKay is a member of the Curtis Institute of Music Board of Overseers and the Board of the William M. Sullivan Musical Foundation. MacKay is the recipient of a Missouri Arts Award in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of the arts in Missouri; a Doctor of Music honoris causa from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the St. Louis Arts & Education Council's Excellence in the Arts Award. His election to the OPERA America Board of Directors marks a return to the organization, having been first elected in 1985. He served again from 1997-2012, holding the offices of Chairman (2004-2008) and Vice Chairman (1998-2004).

Nicole Paiement
Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor, Opera Parallèle

Nicole Paiement founded Opera Parallèle with the primary intent of promoting contemporary music and opera. Paiement has since gained an international reputation as a conductor and specialist of contemporary opera and contemporary music. Her recordings include many world premiere works, and she has toured extensively in the U.S. and Asia. As artistic director of Opera Parallèle, she conducted the 2007 world premiere of Lou Harrison’s Young Caesar, the West Coast premiere of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (2010), the San Francisco premiere of Philip Glass’ Orphée (2011), the world premiere performance of Jacques Desjardins’ re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby (2012) and the Bay Area premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar (2013). Paiement is an active guest conductor both in the U.S. and abroad. For The Dallas Opera, she recently conducted a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse and she will return in January 2014 to conduct Tod Machover's Death and the Powers. Paiement is also artistic director of the BluePrint Project — a new music concert series sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She is on faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she conducts the orchestra and opera productions.

Kathryn Smith
General Director, Madison Opera

Kathryn Smith has been general director of Madison Opera since July 2011. Her time in Madison has seen an expansion of the repertoire, with five company premieres and the creation of the new Studio Artist Program. Under her leadership, the company is preparing to open The Madison Opera Center, which will be the company’s new artistic and administrative home in downtown Madison and allow a further growth of outreach and education activities. Smith came to Madison after seven years as general director of Tacoma Opera, where she won praise for expanding the company’s productions and eradicating years of accumulated debt. She received ArtsFund’s 2008 Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award. From 1997 to 2003, Smith worked at the Metropolitan Opera, starting in the rehearsal department and ending as the company’s assistant artistic administrator. She also worked at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Wolf Trap Opera early in her career. A native of Seattle and graduate of Harvard University, she is a judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and has served on an advisory panel for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Melia P. Tourangeau
President and CEO, Utah Symphony | Utah Opera

Following an extensive national search, Melia P. Tourangeau joined Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (USUO) as president and chief executive officer in April 2008. USUO is the only combined 52-week orchestra and opera organization in the U.S., which has an $18 million annual operating budget, an administrative staff of 65 and 85 professional musicians. Under Tourangeau’s leadership, USUO increased ticket revenue by over $1 million, returned the annual fund to pre-recession levels and secured over $6 million in bridge support between 2008 and 2012. Prior to joining USUO, Tourangeau was appointed president of Grand Rapids Symphony in April 2005 where she was responsible for the overall financial, operational and administrative management of the organization with an $8.5 million annual operating budget, an administrative staff of 33 and 75 contracted professional musicians. Tourangeau joined the Grand Rapids Symphony as education director in January 1997 and was promoted to director of operations, then vice president and general manager. She received her B.M. in 1994 from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music with a major in piano performance and a minor in musicology. In April 2007, she received a Master’s in public administration with an emphasis on nonprofit leadership at Grand Valley State University and was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the honors society for public administrators. Tourangeau was on the Executive Committee and the Board of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, was a member of the Grand Rapids Rotary Club and on the Conservatory Committee of the Oberlin College Alumni Council. She is currently a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), the International Women’s Forum, the League of American Orchestras and the Alta Club.

OPERA America's Board of Directors: FY2014

Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. (Chairman), Trustee, Metropolitan Opera
David Bennett (Vice-Chairman), Gotham Chamber Opera
Stephen Trampe (Vice-Chairman), Trustee, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Darren K. Woods (Vice-Chairman), Fort Worth Opera
Timothy O’Leary (Treasurer), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
James W. Wright (Secretary), Vancouver Opera
Marc A. Scorca (President/CEO), OPERA America

Daniel Biaggi, Palm Beach Opera
J.A. (Gus) Blanchard, Trustee Emeritus, Minnesota Opera
Gregory Carpenter, Opera Colorado
Keith Cerny, The Dallas Opera
Rena M. De Sisto, Bank of America
David B. Devan, Opera Philadelphia
James Feldman, Washington National Opera
William Florescu, Florentine Opera Company
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
W.R. (Bob) McPhee, Calgary Opera Association
Andreas Mitisek, Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater
Susan Morris, Trustee, The Santa Fe Opera
Esther Nelson, Boston Lyric Opera
Kevin Newbury, stage director
Kenneth Pigott, Trustee, Lyric Opera of Chicago
Norman Ryan, Schott Music Corporation & European American Music Distributors LLC
Gregory C. Swinehart, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP
Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano
Francesca Zambello, The Glimmerglass Festival

Ex-Officio Members
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.