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Tacoma Opera director Kathryn Smith to leave for Madison Opera in Madison, Wisconsin

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on May 2, 2011 at 10:05 am |
May 2, 2011 10:05 am

Tacoma Opera has just announced that its general director Kathryn Smith has been appointed the new general director of Madison Opera, in Madison, Wisconsin. The move to the $2 million company comes after seven years for Smith at Tacoma Opera. She will assume her position on July 1, and the board of Tacoma Opera has begun a search for a new general director.

Smith, a Seattle native and Harvard graduate, came to Tacoma Opera in October, 2003 after six years at The Metropolitan Opera of New York, where she had been responsible for a $4.5 million budget as assistant artistic administrator. During her time at Tacoma Opera she helped the 33-year-old organization increase its budget by around $125,000, pay off all debts, end every year but one (2009/10) in the black, and add one full production per season, as well as transforming a dinner show into an evening-length theater production.

She also received the Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award from ArtsFund in 2008.

“Kathryn’s departure is a bittersweet event for Tacoma Opera,” said Cynthia Branson, board president. “She has been a beacon for us with her outstanding artistic knowledge, business savvy and commitment to our enterprise. She also brings credit to herself for her tireless efforts to create networks among Tacoma’s art groups.  She leaves Tacoma Opera with tremendous goodwill from all who have had the privilege of working with her.”

Smith says that while the new job gives her “a chance to run a bigger opera company,” she’ll miss Tacoma.

“Tacoma Opera has been amazing place to work,” says Smith.  “The level of talent in the Northwest is extraordinary, and I’m very proud of the operas we have created together to share with our community.  I was tremendously lucky to have worked with so many great people, and I will miss the company and Tacoma.  I know Tacoma Opera has many great things ahead for it, particularly with the dedication and support of so many people.”

Tacoma Opera will go ahead as planned with its 2011/12 season, although it is moving its annual Pantages production to the Rialto Theater. After opening with the Northwest premiere of Rossini’s “The Turk in Italy” in November, the season will continue in February with its 10th annual Young Artist production in the Theatre on the Square, and conclude with Puccini’s “La Bohème” in the Rialto in March.

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