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Press Released: 30 Jun 2016

Timothy O’Leary Elected Chairman of OPERA America Board of Directors

Eight New Members Elected to the Board and Three Members Re-Elected

OPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation's leading champion for American opera, is pleased to announce that Timothy O’Leary, general director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, has been elected the new chairman of OPERA America’s board of directors. He has been involved with OPERA America since 2006, when he participated in Leadership Advance, one of the organization’s professional development programs. He joined OPERA America’s board in 2011. O’Leary was elected chairman at OPERA America’s recent annual business meeting — held during Opera Conference 2016 in Montreal — where eight new members were also elected to the board and three current members were re-elected to three-year terms.

Serving first terms on the board are Ned Canty (general director, Opera Memphis), Michael Egel (general and artistic director, Des Moines Metro Opera), Laura Kaminsky (composer), Bill Palant (founder and managing director, Étude Arts), Jane DiRenzo Pigott (managing director, R3 Group LLC, and trustee, Lyric Opera of Chicago), Yuval Sharon (artistic director, The Industry), John G. Turner (trustee, Houston Grand Opera) and Dona D. Vaughn (artistic director of opera programs, Manhattan School of Music, and artistic director, PORTopera).

O’Leary takes over the chairmanship from Frayda B. Lindemann, vice president of the Metropolitan Opera, who completed her second two-year term. Dr. Lindemann was warmly thanked for her service and valuable contributions to the organization, and she will now serve as immediate past chairman of the board, as outlined in OPERA America’s by-laws.

“I am thrilled to work with Tim in his new role, and look forward to the fresh perspective he will bring to the leadership of our organization,” stated President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “In his roles at both OPERA America and OTSL, Tim has displayed a keen business sense, a savvy approach to new repertoire and a profound commitment to community engagement, and I’m pleased that our entire membership will benefit from his expertise in these areas. I am also delighted to welcome our eight outstanding new board members, each of whom brings valuable skills and insights to topics such as governance, career development and education.”

“It’s an honor to serve OPERA America and its mission,” stated Timothy O’Leary. “I feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of Frayda Lindemann and our other great past chairman. Thanks to them and to Marc Scorca’s leadership, OPERA America has fostered a spirit of collaboration and forward thinking that has helped make possible a golden age of creativity in American opera. At a time when live performing arts are facing new pressures and a changing landscape, I believe OPERA America’s service to our field is more valuable than ever.”

In addition to the election of new board members, three current members were re-elected to second terms: Charles MacKay (general director, The Santa Fe Opera), Nicole Paiement (artistic director, Opera Parallèle) and Kathryn Smith (general director, Madison Opera). Perryn Leech (managing director, Houston Grand Opera), Susan F. Morris (trustee, The Santa Fe Opera) and Stephen Trampe (trustee, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis) were re-elected as vice chairmen, and William Florescu (general director, Florentine Opera Company®) was re-elected as secretary. Evan J. Hazell (trustee, Calgary Opera) was newly elected to the position of board treasurer.

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. The board of directors meets three times each year, and the next meeting will take place in October in San Francisco.

New Board Chair

Timothy O’Leary
General Director, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Timothy O’Leary has been general director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis since 2008, heading a leadership team that includes Music Director Stephen Lord and Artistic Director James Robinson. During O’Leary’s tenure, OTSL has earned acclaim for innovative programming and achieved sustained growth in new audiences, attracting new subscribers and building a younger and more diverse audience. In 2016, O’Leary received the St. Louis Business Journal’s Innovation Award for this work, and OTSL also became one of four U.S. opera companies to win a major grant from The Wallace Foundation’s “Building Audiences for Sustainability” initiative. O’Leary’s tenure has also brought new records for fundraising: Opera Theatre’s endowment has grown by more than 75 percent, from $16.5 million in 2008 to $29.1 million in 2016, and annual contributions have grown by more than 35 percent during the same period, exceeding $5.5 million per year.

Under O’Leary’s leadership, Opera Theatre has presented important but rarely staged works, such as the first new U.S. production of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer since its original 1991 staging. The production won widespread acclaim, and in 2012 O’Leary was awarded the Norman A. Stack Community Relations Award by the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council for community projects surrounding the opera and the resulting collaboration with civic leaders to establish an annual interfaith September 11 concert. In 2013, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis launched its New Works, Bold Voices series, a cycle of world-premiere American operas that embrace diverse influences and tell stories of the modern era. The first opera in the cycle, Champion, an “opera in jazz” by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer, was co-commissioned with Jazz St. Louis and became the best-selling world premiere in OTSL history. The cycle has continued in 2014 with 27 by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek and in 2016 with Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph.

Before his appointment as OTSL general director, O’Leary was part of the management team at New York City Opera under General and Artistic Director Paul Kellogg, and he served as the first managing director of New York’s Gotham Chamber Opera. He also served as a fundraising consultant for New York’s Theatre for a New Audience and Roundabout Theatre Company. As an assistant stage director, he worked for New York City Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Florida Grand Opera and others. O’Leary’s training includes an apprenticeship at San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, graduate studies in theater management at Columbia University and a degree in English from Dartmouth College. He also completed National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program, which included training at the business schools of the University of Michigan and Harvard University.

New Board Members

Ned Canty
General Director, Opera Memphis

Ned Canty has directed productions at dozens of companies, including The Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Santa Fe Opera and New York City Opera. The New York Times described his stage direction as having “a startling combination of sensitivity and panache.” Since joining Opera Memphis as general director in 2011, he has led a restructuring of the 60-year-old company, expanding the season and launching The Midtown Opera Festival, an annual festival of chamber works. The signature program under his leadership has been 30 Days of Opera, which has brought free performances to over 120,000 Memphians in more than 150 locations since its inception. For the vast majority of attendees, 30 Days of Opera provided an introduction to the art form. Canty has spoken about the 30 Days of Opera model for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence and dozens of civic groups in Memphis. From 2005 to 2010, Canty was festival director of the New York Television Festival. Over the course of five years, he helped grow the festival into a nationally recognized forum for discovering new television talent and exploring digital and new-media storytelling. Before discovering opera, Canty worked as an actor, director and stuntman at Hartford Stage, the McCarter Theatre and the New York Renaissance Faire, among others. He lives in Midtown Memphis with his wife and their three dogs.

Michael Egel
General and Artistic Director, Des Moines Metro Opera

Michael Egel was appointed general and artistic director of Des Moines Metro Opera in 2013, having held the post of artistic director since September 2010. He previously served the company as the artistic administrator and director of education from 1999 to 2010. Egel first joined the Summer Festival Season staff in 1994 and marked 20 seasons with the organization in 2014. During his tenure, the company has launched the 2nd Stages Series, a new performance initiative designed to engage new audiences, promote strategic collaborations, increase revenue and create a platform for innovation. Egel also created a community engagement series called Staging Connections that comprise events and lectures connecting opera performances to non-musical disciplines. Each season under his tenure has included three new productions and two new 2nd Stages productions. In 2012, he launched an initiative to present opera titles new to the company, which has included Elektra, Dead Man Walking, Le Comte Ory, Jenůfa, Three Decembers, Galileo Galilei and Orphée et Eurydice, among others. He received a Bachelor of Music in performance and education from Simpson College and a Master of Music from the University of Memphis. Egel was recently selected as a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee, which is composed of Central Iowa’s highest-ranking business leaders. Under his leadership, the company received the 2015 Bravo Greater Des Moines Encore Award for Organizational Excellence. Egel has frequently served as an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and he has contributed to national publications regarding the auditioning process and training for singers.

Laura Kaminsky
Composer (New York, NY)

Composer Laura Kaminsky has “an ear for the new and interesting” (The New York Times). The score for Kaminsky’s opera As One was noted as being “in perfect harmony with the libretto,” the music fitting “naturally onto the text, her lyrical vocal writing giving the words room to expand” (New York Classical Review). Upcoming projects include Some Light Emerges, an opera with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed (Houston Grand Opera/HGOco, 2017); Piano Quintet, for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt Quartet (2017); and Today It Rains, an opera with a libretto by Campbell and Reed (Opera Parallèle, 2018–2019). The Crossroads Project (2012), a multimedia collaboration on climate change, has been touring internationally with physicist Dr. Rob Davies and the Fry Street Quartet. Kaminsky has received grants and awards from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the NEA, OPERA America, Chamber Music America, NYSCA, the Aaron Copland Fund, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink and the Likhachev-Russkiy Mir Foundation. She is the recipient of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s 2010 Chopin Award; six ASCAP/Chamber Music America Adventurous Programming Awards; and a 2015 Polish Gold Cross of Merit, awarded by the president of Poland for exemplary public service. Kaminsky is professor and head of composition at Purchase College (SUNY), as well as composer in residence at American Opera Projects. Previous positions include artistic director of Symphony Space and Town Hall, music chair of Cornish College of the Arts, director of music-theater programs at The New School, and associate director of humanities at the 92nd Street Y.

Bill Palant
Founder and Managing Director, Étude Arts (New York, NY)

Founder and managing director of Étude Arts, Bill Palant manages some of the world’s most acclaimed classical artists. Étude Arts is an independent management agency built on experience, fueled by integrity and emboldened by the possibilities open to artists and the arts in the 21st century. The agency embodies a commitment to the development of exceptional artistry at every level of the profession and a dedication to the holistic success of both performer and presenter: to health and well-being, to dynamic growth and career longevity, to progressive business practice, and to outstanding performance on a global stage. Palant’s clients have appeared at the world’s greatest performing arts institutions, and many have been recorded by the most distinguished media labels in the industry. Before establishing Étude Arts in 2015, Bill Palant was senior vice president at IMG Artists, where he served for 19 years. He has also worked for the Metropolitan Opera’s rehearsal department and for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. In addition to his commitment to OPERA America’s board, Palant is on the board of the International Friends of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. He graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in psychology.

Jane DiRenzo Pigott
Managing Director, R3 Group LLC
Trustee, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Jane DiRenzo Pigott is managing director of R3 Group LLC, where she specializes in providing leadership, change and talent consulting to organizations. Her clients include professional service firms, corporations and family offices. From 1993 to 2002, Pigott served as the chair of the global environmental law practice group at Winston & Strawn, one of the largest global law firms, and prior to that she was chair of the environmental law department at the firm now known as Katten Muchin Rosenman. Pigott currently serves as an independent trustee of the Van Eck mutual funds and chairs the board’s Governance Committee. In addition, she is an active leader in several civic organizations. She currently serves as a life trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and sits on its Executive Committee. She is a trustee of Northwestern University, sits on its Executive Committee and chairs its Academic Affairs Committee. She is a member of the Northwestern Medicine Group board of directors and the Northwestern Memorial HealthCare Physician Compensation Subcommittee. She also serves on the board of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Pigott is a member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism and chairs its Audit and Finance Committee. She is an active speaker and author on leadership, retention, management and diversity. She received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law.

Yuval Sharon
Artistic Director, The Industry (Los Angeles, CA)

Described by The Hollywood Reporter as “LA's avant-garde opera darling,” Yuval Sharon has been creating an unconventional body of work that seeks to expand the operatic form. He founded and serves as artistic director of The Industry in Los Angeles, directing and producing the company’s acclaimed world premieres of Hopscotch, Crescent City, Invisible Cities and In C. He is the recipient of the 2014 Götz Friedrich Prize in Germany for his production of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic, originally produced at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe and later presented in Seville's Teatro de la Maestranza. Sharon also directed a landmark production of John Cage’s Song Books at the San Francisco Symphony and Carnegie Hall with Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk and Jessye Norman. His most recent production was Peter Eötvös’ Three Sisters at the Wiener Staatsoper, which led Opernwelt to call him "one of the most interesting arrivals on the musical landscape." Starting with the 2016–2017 season, Sharon will serve as an artist-collaborator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where his projects will include newly commissioned works, site-specific installations and performances outside the hall. Upcoming projects include Die Walküre for Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Pelléas et Mélisande for The Cleveland Orchestra, Lou Harrison's Young Caesar with the LA Philharmonic, and a new interpretation of Brecht's Galileo with music by Andy Akiho for The Industry. Sharon serves on the Artist Council for the Hammer Museum and as a fellow for the Los Angeles Institute for Humanities.

John G. Turner
Studio and Training Committee Vice Chair, Houston Grand Opera Board of Directors

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, John G. Turner is a member of Houston Grand Opera’s board of directors, serving as vice chair of the Studio and Training Committee. The former manager of Malcolm Travel & Cruise, he currently co-owns Turner Industries Group LLC and Great Wall Properties LLC, both based in Baton Rouge. A deeply committed community volunteer, Turner is a philanthropist in the visual and musical arts, music education and historical preservation. In addition to his work on the Houston Grand Opera board of directors, Turner has served on the boards of A. Wilbert’s Sons LLC, Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation, American Friends of Covent Garden, Shaw Center for the Arts, Friends of Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge Recreation and Parks Commission Foundation, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation and BRAVO (Baton Rouge Area Volunteers for Opera).

Dona D. Vaughn
Artistic Director of Opera Programs, Manhattan School of Music
Artistic Director, PORTopera
(New York, NY, and Portland, ME)

Dona D. Vaughn is the artistic director of PORTopera, a summer festival in Portland, Maine, and also serves as artistic director of opera programs at Manhattan School of Music. From 1998 to 2010, she was the stage director and acting coach for the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. A graduate of Brevard College, where she currently serves on the board of trustees, she received a B.A. in vocal performance from Wesleyan, an M.A. in theater directing from Hunter College and an honorary doctorate of music from the University of Southern Maine. In 2015, she was awarded the President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service by Manhattan School of Music. Vaughn studied acting with Lee Strasberg and Uta Hagen, as well as dance with Martha Graham, and she began her career as a performer in the original Broadway productions of Company, Jesus Christ Superstar and Seesaw. She has also served as dramaturge for the O’Neill Conference on Opera and Musical Theater, HB Playwright’s Unit and the University of Kansas New Play Season. Directing credits include New York City Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Wolf Trap Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Lincoln Center Playwrights’ Festival, New York Repertory Company, the Kennedy Center, and many colleges and universities across the U.S., Europe and Asia. She directed the world premieres of Roberto Hazon's Agenzia matrimoniale, Robert Sirota's Holy Women and Francis Thorne's Mario and the Magician; the New York premieres of Milton Granger's Talk Opera and The Proposal; the Off-Broadway production of Murphy Guyer's World of Mirth; and the European premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Flower and Hawk. She has written for Opera News and Italy’s Musical!.

OPERA America's Board of Directors: FY2017

Chairman: Timothy O’Leary (General Director, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis)
Immediate Past Chairman: Frayda B. Lindemann, Ph.D. (Trustee, The Metropolitan Opera)
Vice Chairman: Perryn Leech (Managing Director, Houston Grand Opera)
Vice Chairman: Susan F. Morris (Trustee, The Santa Fe Opera)
Vice Chairman: Stephen Trampe (Trustee, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis)
Treasurer: Evan J. Hazell (Trustee, Calgary Opera)
Secretary: William Florescu (General Director, Florentine Opera Company®)
President/CEO: Marc A. Scorca (OPERA America)

John E. Baumgardner Jr. (Sullivan & Cromwell LLP)
David Bennett (San Diego Opera)
Daniel Biaggi (Palm Beach Opera)
Wayne S. Brown (Michigan Opera Theatre)
Matthew Buckman (Fresno Grand Opera, Townsend Opera)
Ned Canty (Opera Memphis)
Keith Cerny (The Dallas Opera)
Emilie Roy Corey (Trustee, National Guild for Community Arts Education)
Larry Desrochers (Manitoba Opera)
Michael Egel (Des Moines Metro Opera)
Robert Ellis (Trustee, San Francisco Opera, Opera Parallèle)
James Feldman (Trustee, Washington National Opera)
Barbara Glauber (Trustee, Boston Lyric Opera)
Christopher Hahn (Pittsburgh Opera)
Carol F. Henry (Trustee, Los Angeles Opera)
Laura Kaminsky (Composer)
Barbara Leirvik (Opera Patron)
Charles MacKay (The Santa Fe Opera)
Zizi Mueller (Boosey & Hawkes)
Esther Nelson (Boston Lyric Opera)
Eric Owens (Bass-Baritone)
Nicole Paiement (Opera Parallèle)
Bill Palant (Étude Arts)
Jane DiRenzo Pigott (R3 Group LLC; Trustee, Lyric Opera of Chicago)
Yuval Sharon (The Industry)
Kathryn Smith (Madison Opera)
Jill Steinberg (Trustee, VisionIntoArt)
John G. Turner (Trustee, Houston Grand Opera)
Dona D. Vaughn (PORTopera, Manhattan School of Music)
Francesca Zambello (The Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera)

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.