Video Published: 01 Jan 2022

An Oral History with Diane Wondisford

On April 6th, 2022, producer and director Diane Wondisford sat down with OPERA America's President/CEO Marc A. Scorca for a conversation about opera and their life.

This interview was originally recorded on April 6th, 2022. 
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Diane Wondisford, producer, director

Diane Wondisford’s career as a director and producer of new music-theatre and opera spans four decades and includes 42 years with Music-Theatre Group/Lenox Arts Center, founded by Lyn Austin whom she succeeded as president and producing director in 2000. Wondisford is widely recognized for launching the careers of scores of creative and performing artists and a distinguished array of the groundbreaking works that they generated. She is currently producing a re-imagining of Tod Machover’s early opera VALIS, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick at MIT and continues to collaborate with Julie Taymor as the executive director of Taymor’s World Theater Fellowship, an immersive travel experience for theater directors.

Oral History Project

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Transcript

Marc A. Scorca: Diane Wondisford, thank you so much for being with us today. I always start by asking people who brought them to their first opera, and I won't spare you.

Diane Wondisford: I have to sort of go back to Genesis a little bit because it has to do with my father who was a great audiophile, and he not only bought all the wonderful components, but actually put them all together and constructed his own system, high fidelity (high fi system, as we called it at that moment). And we had a habit of every Sunday after we went to the Rye Bakery and bought a New York Times, he and I would wait while the Sunday supper was being prepared, and the waiting time was filled with my choice of either a musical or an opera. And this was because he was a member of the Columbia Record Club at that moment. And so one of my favorites to listen to with my Dad was Figaro, and he found the fact that there was an art house showing a black and white version from the mid to late '50's, and actually took the family to see Figaro in this crazy little art house in Youngstown, Ohio.

Marc A. Scorca: I'm curious about the Rye Bakery; that sounds kind of nice.

Diane Wondisford: It was good. And if you were a cute kid, which I guess I was at that point, you could also get a bear claw.

Marc A. Scorca: Yes.

Diane Wondisford: And you could pick up The New York Times there, which was critical to the whole cultural education.

Marc A. Scorca: So in Ohio and a sort of off the beaten path production of Figaro. Perhaps that is telling of the career that was to happen down the road. And was that a galvanizing opera attendance, or did you have to wait for a later performance before becoming kind of committed to a music theater career?

Diane Wondisford: Well, I mean the opera performer certainly got my attention. We would drive long distances to see musicals and music performances, both in Ohio. And then, when we moved shortly thereafter to North Carolina and sometimes it was an hour a trip or more. My parents really loved musicals. And so they made a point of having us enjoy them as well.

Marc A. Scorca: That's wonderful. What was your first job in the arts?

Diane Wondisford: I studied after my undergraduate in English and theater, I took an MFA in directing, and my first year of that was at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and in the summer between my first and second years of graduate school, I took a job as the production stage manager at the Cambridge Barn Summer Theater, which notably was in a barn, and the barn sat next to a driving range beside (on the other side), a putt putt golf course and had a sort of tack sports equipment store underneath. And in the middle of all that, they ran a very robust summer stock company. And I was the production stage manager for it.

Marc A. Scorca: And I don't think that was Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Diane Wondisford: No, no. That comes later in my career. Cambridge, Ohio, which is not actually equidistant, but between Columbus, Ohio, and Athens, Ohio, which figure in my trajectory.

Marc A. Scorca: So, coming out of high school, going into college then for an MFA, clearly theater was what you wanted to do, and stage management/directing. So really bringing production to life was something that you early on signed onto.

Diane Wondisford: Yep.

Marc A. Scorca: So, then producing new music theater works, going from sort of a backstage facilitator to actually a producer. What was that journey for you?

Diane Wondisford: I think as a director, one wants to be an ideal audience member. And so sort of built into that career choice is a kind of a producorial look at the world. So I was already slanting in that direction. I took a stint at the Ohio Arts Council, because I needed to make some money before I moved to New York, which is what my goal had been. And at the end of that three year period, I went to the Kenyon Festivals Theater, which was a brand new LORT house that had been started by Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman and Michael Cristofer. And I had a fantastic time there; very, very active summer with actors and people from all over the east coast, and after one of the rep productions, (we) were meeting backstage and it was the middle of August. There were six women that were standing around me and we were waiting to change over for the next production. And they said, "What are you gonna do when you grow up?" And I said, "What I'm heading to, is a as a career in the theater and I'm going to move to New York." And this is mid-August of '80. And they said, "Well, what kind of theater do you want to work for?" And I said, "I'm going to have an interview with Joseph Papp, and then I'm going to go to the Manhattan Theatre Club, and I'm not sure what after that.” And they said, "Well, if you just really could do anything you wanted to do, what would you do?" And I said, "I would work for a woman producer. I have learned a great deal from men in this profession, but I really would love to work with a woman." And they said, "And what else?" And I said, "I like music a lot and I don't necessarily have to do musicals, but I really, really wanna work with music and theater." And they erupted in laughter. Each one of those people had worked for the same person and they began to joke about this person and everything. And they said the name of this person was Lyn Austin, and that I ought to go and make sure that I interviewed with her. So I trundle up to New York in early September, and I have my interview with the Public Theater, and I have my interview with the Manhattan Theater Club and one offer was made, but I just didn't want to do that particular place. Really, imagine. So I'm glumly walking on the street, and one of the women from that particular circle came up and said, "How are you doing?" I said, "It's really bad. I've been here two weeks; I don't have a job," and she laughed. "But I really, really need to find one." And she said, "I heard about this woman who is looking for a stage manager, and she's an actress and perhaps you should interview with her? I think it would be a good experience. She's really great. She's a terrific talent. You might really like working with her." I said, "Okay. What's her name?" She said, "Her name's Linda Hunt, and this is how you reach her." And so I called her up, and we had this interview and we met for three hours, and I thought that this was terrific. And she said, "Now you need to meet the producer, Lyn Austin." So I guess, the spirit was working. I went to meet with Lyn. We had a very lovely interview. We talked for a great long while. She didn't offer me a nickel at that moment, but she said that she would hire me and I was ecstatic. And that was the 16th of September in 1980. And that has been my exclusive job in an institution, if you would call Music-Theater Group an institution: institutional music theater, producing art.

Marc A. Scorca: Certainly not your only purpose, but perhaps your only job, and we'll talk about Lyn in a moment, but I first wanted to take a kind of environmental scan. So there you are, 1980 and you join the staff of Music-Theater Group...

Diane Wondisford: I was the staff...

Marc A. Scorca: I realized that I overstated it. What was the landscape like for new music theater, for new opera in America, as you saw it from that perspective in 1980?

Diane Wondisford: Well, as, as you might remember, Chorus Line had had a huge impact in the mid to late '70's, just massive, and Joe Papp was producing a great deal of things with Wilford Leach, and I think even at that point, Pirates of Penzance was on its way to Broadway. The Acting Company at Juilliard did The Robber Bridegroom with , Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone. It was just a really wonderful adventurous romp. I think that BAM was beginning to...I think Brook's Mahabharata was coming along. So it was a really fertile time in so many ways. And for unconventional combinations of music and theater, so it was incredible. But what was interesting about Music-Theater Group at that moment was it was much more literally focused. I mean, wonderful works by George Trow, and there was a comedy, based on an Edward Koren cartoon called, 'Was it good for you?' And Harry Kondoleon was writing and I kept wondering to myself where's the predominance of the music here? So in short order in the '80's moved in the direction of...we took on a production of Poppie Nongena, which was brought to us from The Market Theater in South Africa, and brought over company members from South Africa, and that really launched us in a particular way in terms of a really potent, socially important piece of theater, and then shortly thereafter, we did a reduced version of The Mother of Us All.

Marc A. Scorca: I remember.

Diane Wondisford: And that was around the move to St Clement's church. And at that point then, there was much more activity between Richard Foreman and Stanley Silverman, and so we had a couple more of their works and then Martha Clarke came along. And so the music began to really infiltrate the activity.

Marc A. Scorca: I was going to ask, whether in 1980 Music-Theater Group and Lyn had begun to lean into opera a little bit, or what I hear you saying is that, it was in the first part of the 1980's that the musical dimension began to hold its own in the work, and with that emphasis on music, it began to lean into the opera world a bit.

Diane Wondisford: Exactly. And I'll just say one thing, which is to go back to the beginnings of the group: the group was originally started by Foreman and Silverman in trying to combine the two things. And at that point they had done the first version of a reduced Mother of Us All. And they were connected also with the National Jazz Institute that Stephanie Barber then ran at Wheatley. So wonderful jazz greats like (Charles) Mingus and Oliver Lake and (Julius) Hemphill, so there was a lot of music weaving in and out, but not until again the mid to late '80's, did it pick up again.

Marc A. Scorca: I know we just passed Lyn's centenary, and thank you so much for bringing it to my attention and for a chance to remember my first meeting with Lyn, and only last week, I interviewed for this series, Patrick Smith, and it was Patrick Smith who said, "Go meet Lyn Austin." And I remember my first meeting with Lyn so vividly. Very soon after I had taken over at OPERA America back in 1990 - you'd already had 10 years of developing Music-Theater Group with Lyn at that point. What made Lyn unique, special? She is legendary. What contributed to that legend?

Diane Wondisford: There's a lot, but I think to boil it down a bit: Lyn just had superior taste. She just always went for the quality in whatever she touched and did, and she surrounded herself with curious people and good things. And she came from a very socially conscious family. So she was always interested in story that actually told the American story, but always knew things. We don't do anything old, only new things. Lyn could look around the corner; she could see what was coming and because of that, we were always ahead of the curve, which was very, very exciting. It was always new, always risky, always challenging, but it drew to Music-Theater Group a certain kind of artist. And when we had those meetings and determined whether or not we were gonna work with them, it was clear if someone was really strong in intention, and absolutely determined, that was an individual that we could work with. And it wasn't just one time, but multiple times. We made a commitment; she made a commitment, and that made a difference in terms of people learning how to collaborate, learning to trust and being able to make not one, not two, but two or three works, and then launch into the wider world with, not only purpose, but confidence in their ability to make a contribution.

Marc A. Scorca: That was just so extraordinarily well put and informative. The idea that the looking around the corner to see who really has the talent, and then to nurture through multiple works, not to go for that one hit and see what happens and then go on to the next one, but actually to decide that you've made a bet on someone's talent and you're going to stick with the talent and develop the trust and the partnership creatively. I listed as I prepared to speak with you today, just looking at Julie Taymor, Elliot Goldenthal, Cornelius Eady, Diedre Murray, Anne Bogart, Eve Ensler, Doug (Douglas J.) Cuomo, Tan Dun, Martha Clark, Diane Paulus, Nico Muhly, Tod Machover. The list is unbelievable. The artists that you - I don't wanna say you necessarily discovered - but you gave early nurture to, and who are the names that have defined the new music theater scene over the last generation or two. It really is extraordinary. And I wanted to ask you, what characteristics define a strong relationship between a creative artist and a producer?

Diane Wondisford: I think you have to have a similar kind of goal in mind: it's not financial. It's not a lot of things, but what it is, is an ability to have a mutual trust and belief, and to really make a commitment, and also to have an ecosystem that's available for the person or persons to work in, so that there is actually a way to together envision what the main idea is, and to give a dimension. And dimension in so many ways because our particular field includes all of the fields under its umbrella. So you have to be able to think together collaboratively and trust one another to do that.

Marc A. Scorca: And when you're helping to nurture a work around perhaps a shared vision, I think what is remarkable about the repertoire that's come out of Music-Theater Group is the variety. It's not your vision as producer; it's the artist vision that you are enabling and helping birth, but it's not your vision for the work.

Diane Wondisford: Exactly. It's. And the artists probably came and were chosen because of that unique vision. Every single time one works with a new set of artists, it's like going to the library in Alexandria. The world is opened up and a new investigation happens. And in some ways - certainly the artists know and have looked at this idea and have been massaging it a little bit, but one is learning together in that process. It's a commitment to the artists and the process, more than it is to the building of an institution. And that is what has made us strong and has made us an outlier at the same time. We are really dedicated to the distinct vision that comes from artists in the lead.

Marc A. Scorca: And I, again, look at the list of works. And for those who may listen to this particular interview (they may want) to explore Juan Darién, Vienna: Lusthaus, Garden of Earthly Delights, Running Man, Marco Polo, Arjuna's Dilemma, Dark Sisters. I mean, again, the list goes on and on of these works that were absolute headline events at whatever institution they were performed, whether it was New York City Opera - I remember being at the opening Marco Polo - or BAM and those incredible pieces. The list is truly incredible and so absolutely varied in nature. I'm gonna probe some of your language. In one of your bios, it says that Music-Theater Group is dedicated to helping artists turn creative inspiration into dramatically compelling music theater works. Okay. So that's what you're dedicated to. How do you actually do that?

Diane Wondisford: Well, I think the unusual thing, and I remember seeing several artists agog when I said this, or Lyn said it: we always start from the beginning before there's any piece of paper. Stanley Silverman used to say, "If you went and took a shower in the morning and you hit your head on the sink, and you came up with an idea, you could call up Lyn Austin and tell her what it was, and she would say, 'Okay, let's see. We could do that next spring, and here's $50,000 to get started.’" The point is that we're starting at the beginning. So we're hearing the idea and basically through repeated meetings and get togethers singly first, and then collaboratively later, the idea takes shape and form, and budgets are made and plans are made and essentially a plan - the system for how that work is gonna be made, is created along the way. And I think, it has to do with my experience in production and understanding how things come together and how things get made, that we have a concrete way to go forward. And every single step in the way, always making sure that the armature, that the music and the theater content are as strong as they can be, in order to go to the next step. That may mean, casual readings. It may mean a reading in front of people. It may mean, let's put this scene on its feet and see how that goes. It may mean a small piece of the orchestra coming together and playing it while they're singing and playing together. And then finally to the point of, now we're gonna workshop it. This could take, sometimes one or two years; two, three years. Sometimes it takes a very long time, because the writing is more complicated; the message isn't quite clear yet. Something isn't speaking its part in the narrative, and that has to be heard. And many people have said, "Oh my God, this is such a luxury, all this development time." And our idea always was that if it wasn't strong enough at its premier, it wouldn't be able to last as a new work. And so the amount of development time that it needs is the amount of development time that it needs and takes.

Marc A. Scorca: What I admire so much about what you say, is that there isn't a Music-Theater Group way, it is the way of each piece that determines the trajectory.

Diane Wondisford: Yep, because my particular interest in poetry adds another little wrinkle to the process, because if the poetry, which you would think, "That's really easily sung." Well, yes, but is it an active voice in a staged production? And there needs to be some tweaking of what that poetic voice does in connection with the music. So that takes some time. If you have a very experienced, acknowledged poet writing, well, that's got to be a difficult voice to try out, so it's more than training wheels; you may have to be on the training wheels for a while, just to make sure it's dramaturgically sound, and it will move ahead with action and purpose. Or let's say we wanna work in the jazz format: not necessarily the same structure in any way that other kinds and types and idioms of music might be.

Marc A. Scorca: And I know that once the piece has opened, as it were, it's not finished yet.

Diane Wondisford: Not necessarily, right.

Marc A. Scorca: And maybe it is, but I remember seeing a couple of iterations of Arjuna's Dilemma at Purchase, and then elsewhere as the piece continued to develop.

Diane Wondisford: What's interesting about that is, I wanted to make sure that we were culturally competent in the production of that. And there were a couple of things along the way (for which) we had advice. We wanted to make sure that we were giving a really proper airing of that part of the Gita. Also, it was a big orchestra and a very small component of singers, most of whom were really dancing and being in the chorus. There was a lot to balance to make sure that it really sang in a major way. I was just noticing sadly that Badal Roy, who was the terrific tabla player that we had in Arjuna passed away of COVID this last year.

Marc A. Scorca: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear.

Diane Wondisford: And he was really a major force in that particular piece. Wonderful piece.

Marc A. Scorca: Again, your words: Music-Theater Group helps artists generate original works that tell stories, driven by music. And you didn't say 'tell stories with music.' You say 'tell stories driven by music.' So I wanna probe. What do you mean by 'driven by music?'

Diane Wondisford: I mean that the engine of the piece narratively is the musical engine. Now, early on and panels and everything, one was always taken to task about, "Well, if this is such an integrated piece, why isn't the music in the lead?" And I always would say, "I think that the music has the primary voice and it's given the entire armature a real drive forward.” That's what one means. Again, it means something different in each piece that is done.

Marc A. Scorca: Let's talk a little bit about what's happened over the last 40 years since your association with Music-Theater Group, and at the time doing new...could be music theater...sometimes experimental. You are an outlier, and now there is so much new work being done. And, as you scan the landscape, are you happy with what you helped inspire? Because I do believe that you helped inspire this entire development of American opera repertoire. Are you happy with what you inspired? Are there ways that you wish you could shape the repertoire somewhat differently, than what you see today?

Diane Wondisford: I'll tell you: I was a little bit frustrated, pre COVID, about just how many artifice of other medium were being used to drive music theater and opera. And I think in general about the performing arts, I thought, "Wait a minute, we have so many basic ways to tell story, why do we have to make it look like it's a staged film? Why does it have to have all this?” And I think we learned a lot of lessons during COVID, but I think we began to use an economy of means in the narrative. And I think that makes a huge difference. So we get focused again on live performance from human beings, generating the material. I'm just an old girl in that way. I really like that. And less is more for me, so that you really can hear the human voice and the human cry and the sounds that the human body makes. It's so, so important. At the same time, I'm thrilled that medium, like video has made so much more accessible to us so that people who are unable for whatever reason to access performance can actually enjoy it. I think what we've learned is how to do things, not just by seven cameras and set them up and make a very sort of smacky video of a stage production, but to figure out ways that the medium can enhance what we're doing. So I think we've learned a lot. I think what I'm most thrilled about is the variety of stories that are being told, and the variety of voices that are telling those stories. And it's something that Lyn and I always worked toward, which is a really multifaceted group of people and storytelling going on. And I think it's actually coming true now. And I really so welcome it, because it's a very broad world and it gets broader and broader every day. And we need to as an American art form reach out, bring back and tell the whole story.

Marc A. Scorca: You see so much work, (and not just of your own creation), that others produce. What are the signs of success of a piece for you? What makes a work successful - that it's done what when you have been in that audience?

Diane Wondisford: It's changed my perspective. It's caused me to stop and think in a slightly different way. It's altered my experience. And maybe the whole thing didn't do it, but if I can have a number of times in the audience where I know I'm caught because I didn't expect it. I never thought of it that way. And actually what I've always been trying to do is to change the trajectory of theater/music-theater, history; to cause people to see things in a new way that sparks another idea that takes somebody else in a direction that might wanna create something yet new again. I was really thrilled with the magic in Eurydice that Sarah Ruhland and Matthew Aucoin did. Spoiler alert: I did produce his first opera with Diane Paulus, but what I loved was the way they took the story and looked at it in a different way. And in the middle of all that you have a TikTok dance. It was embracing the now and also having us take a new look at a very, very time honored story.

Marc A. Scorca: I was speaking to European general director not too long ago, and she said something that's just stuck with me. She said "In Europe, we make the art form modern, by doing updated productions of our inherited repertoire; in the United States, you're making the art form modern by doing new work." And I think that perhaps is (a) slightly artificial dichotomy because there are certainly new work going on in Europe, but I was just struck by your talking about this American art form. And is it your sense that this kind of hybrid definition bending music theater work that we know, again thanks to Music-Theater Group and its companion organizations, is it uniquely American from your experience?

Diane Wondisford: I haven't seen as many examples of it in great preponderance as I have here, let's say in the last 20 years, maybe, which I'm thrilled about. We can certainly appreciate art from other cultures and places and times, but to actually make something that is made here with this, from our perspective is really the most exciting thing. That's how we can call it an American art form. There's some very interesting stuff happening all over the world in different pockets. There's no question about it, but we've really had this incredible outgrowth of late and, thanks to organizations like OPERA America and all the other good service organizations and people who are making a commitment to making new things.

Marc A. Scorca: It has to be a team effort. It's too complicated,

Diane Wondisford: It takes more than a village. We know that it takes an entire country.

Marc A. Scorca: Now, of course you learned a lot from Lyn; she was a unique force, and you learned a lot, but I'm curious about other role models. And sometimes a role model doesn't need to know that he, or she's a role model, they just are a role model by living example. Other role models for you.

Diane Wondisford: I spoke about my father earlier. My father was a mechanical engineer, who was an inventor and he took me to work with him, and I saw the way he went from his design desk, to the floor, to the conveyor belt line, to the dye tanks, to the packing room, where they packed things up and sent it, and there was a system, there was a way of working and there was an integration of that system. And so my life has been patterned by understanding what a system is, or what an ecosystem is. And that was really important. How many people in the theater have talked about their English teachers? There was woman by the name of Eileen McKay, wonderful poet, teacher at my school in North Carolina, who said to me, "You might wanna take another look at the theater. Let's change your perspective; come and look on the other side of the footlights with me." And then she made me her assistant director, and she talked about the areas of responsibility, "And these are all the ways that performance is made, and these are the contributions that various people can make." I have to say that the great producers in the world, I've named some of them already: Ariane Mnouchkine, who, again, a company feeling and made stories so relevant and beautiful and epic in their proportion. The work of Hallie Flanagan, who took a topically important story and put it into the mainstream in towns and villages across the country. The work of Viola Spolin, who really influenced my career a lot, and a lot of the directors and artists that I've worked with were really taken with the improvisational form. She basically made play understandable, not only as a tool for kids, a help for psychologists, but also a way for us to explore performing arts. And if you have that sense of energy and play at work inside a piece of music theater, theater, art, you've gone a long way to make an impact. I think.

Marc A. Scorca: Wow. A great list of people to know, and to study in terms of their work. I regret that both of us have reached an age where people ask us for advice. I don't know about you, but I still feel like I need a lot of advice...

Diane Wondisford: Me too. It's the new 40 we're reaching now.

Marc A. Scorca: You must be asked advice from wannabe creative artists and wannabe producers. So let's take the producers first. Is there some advice that routinely comes out of you toward the aspiring producer?

Diane Wondisford: Yeah, it's really about seeing as much as there is in the world to see, from every corner. Look, feel, touch, be in it, explore it, enjoy it, know what is available to you. Read. Be a big sponge, because the more one is a sponge of culture and experience and feeling, the more effective one is gonna be in trying to put things out in front of other people. Be curious, and be daring. And that's the hard part. I just plain don't do work that I don't wanna do. And sometimes I think, "Oh my goodness...that could possibly...I don't know....I just don't feel like that. I don't think I can bring the best of what I can bring to that." So make sure you can really make a commitment, and when you make the commitment, stick with the commitment.

Marc A. Scorca: How do you combine being daring, with not making the work, your vision, your work?

Diane Wondisford: One encourages the artist to go for it. Sometimes there's a temerity that's holding back the work or making the work boring, quite frankly. There's a piece that hasn't been unlocked, and those are hard conversations to have sometimes because sometimes it's an autobiographical piece that people don't wanna open up. It doesn't mean you have to tell your deepest, darkest, most scary secrets. What it means is you have to find the truth in what you're trying to do. And sometimes that's the hardest and the most daring thing to do. People know that; people can see that it's not the whole thing. There's something missing. I couldn't quite figure out why this didn't get to...We were just talking about a piece that's very popular right now. And somebody said, "It just didn't make any sense." And I said, "Well, I think it's because it wasn't investigated enough." Be daring in your telling.

Marc A. Scorca: Is that the same advice that you would give to creative artists who seek you out?

Diane Wondisford: It's a little bit different. I think I would mostly say what is it you need and want to say, and, and let's help you figure out how to articulate that, because they're in the business of trying to get other people to support them most often and the work has to speak, and that takes some time sometimes for people to figure out how to put that forward in a way that's gonna be understandable to somebody else. We have these dialogues with ourselves all the time and we don't realize that it's not necessarily going outside of our bodies. It's sort of like stuck in there and you think you said it, but maybe not. There needs to be a clarity and a directness about presentation. And I think probably that's the hardest thing for some artists to come up with, because they don't have experience in it. I've been doing this for a lot of years now, and because I've done it a lot, I'm better at it. I'm more practiced. I have my own way of doing it.

Marc A. Scorca: How would you advise a young artist who feels perhaps constrained or cut off by the timetable of the producing company, or that the producing company paying a healthy commission, doesn't want it this way, but wants it that way. The producer has a lot of power in terms of schedule and budgets and the young creative artist may succumb easily to those pressures. How do you advise the young artist to ask for what they need and to somehow get what they need?

Diane Wondisford: That's a hard one, because a lot of these people are colleagues that I know, so I think the biggest thing is to actually get the artist to articulate what his or her need is. It's sometimes just such a fear factor of dates and times and restrictions that it's all jumbled up, and so I think to be able for them to articulate their need to themselves, so that then they can say it to somebody else is the biggest thing. So it's sort of like unpacking what the event was. I just was talking to somebody two weeks ago about all the notes that had come down from the first reading and how to parse that, so that it could be dealt with, and it took us an hour and a half, but we got to it, because basically it wasn't so bad after all, but again, it's that conversation that an artist is having with him or herself that isn't a dialogue, and sometimes they just need to have a dialogue to understand what it is that's affecting them, and what it is they need to say in order to get to the next step. And everybody needs a friend, and that's what organizations like OPERA America can do, which is to make links between companies and artists and groups of people so that they can have a dialogue to understand how to work most effectively with each other, and within a lot of constraints. It's brought on by the nature of our business.

Marc A. Scorca: And, of course, Music-Theater Group has the magic elixir on creating those relationships and those dialogues. Thank you.

Diane Wondisford: Thank you; you're very kind.

Marc A. Scorca: No. I'm just so grateful for this time today, because you continue to have a clarity and a power of articulation that just demonstrates why you have had such an influence on this industry, and on this art form. So Diane Wondisford, thank you for being with us today, and I just wish you every good thing in the years and productions ahead.