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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with David DiChiera

In 2010, composer and general director David DiChiera was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on October 24, 2010.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

David DiChiera, composer and general director

David DiChiera (1935–2018) was a composer and the founding general director of Michigan Opera Theatre, now known as Detroit Opera. DiChiera’s long and storied affiliation with Detroit began in 1962, when he became a professor of music at Oakland University. During this time, he created Overture to Opera, a program of staged opera scenes and one-act operas that he narrated and toured to hundreds of schools and community centers throughout the state. Through this work he laid the foundation to create Michigan's own professional opera company, Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT), in 1971. He simultaneously spearheaded the establishment of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit (1973), serving as its founding director. From 1979 to 1983, he served as chair of OPERA America’s board. In addition to leading MOT, DiChiera served as artistic director of Dayton Opera Association (1981–1993) and founding general director of Opera Pacific (1986–1996) in Orange County, California. He retired from MOT in 2017.

DiChiera was a 2010 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.