7 July 2010
William Mason, Lyric Opera of Chicago's General Director, to Retire Following 2011-12 Season
© Steve Leonard 2010
Lyric Opera of Chicago announced today that the company's general director, William Mason, intends to retire when his contract expires at the conclusion of the company's 2011-12 season.
Mason, who is 68, has served as LOC's general director since 1997 and has been a member of the opera's staff for more than four decades. By the time he retires, Mason will have superintended more than 120 productions, including more than forty new productions. Mason notably hired Andrew Davis as the company's music director in 2000 — succeeding Bruno Bartoletti — and has presided over a period of fiscal stability remarkable among American opera companies, having kept the company operating without a deficit for 22 of the past 23 years.
"I think two years from now will be the right time to turn the reins over to a new general director, and I look forward to working with the board on finding a successor to lead this great company," Mason said in a release issued today by the opera. "I am privileged to have spent my professional life doing what I love best, which is producing grand opera at the highest international level."
Mason is the third general director in the history of Lyric Opera of Chicago, following Ardis Krainik — who led the company from 1982 until her death in 1997 — and Carol Fox, the company's founder. Mason joined the company in 1962 during Fox's tenure. Prior to his appointment as general director, Mason worked as LOC's director of operations, artistic and production for sixteen years. He also worked in the production department as assistant stage manager during the opera season for two years from 1968 through 1970, and eventually served as production director between 1974 and 1978. His first administrative position with the company was as an assistant to the company's co-artistic director Pino Donati from 1962 through 1966. During the mid-fifties, Mason performed as a member of Lyric Opera of Chicago's children's chorus, and sang the role of the Young Shepherd Boy in Tosca performances in 1954 and 1956, which featured, respectively, Eleanor Steber, Giuseppe Di Stefano, and Tito Gobbi, and Renata Tebaldi, Jussi Björling, and Tito Gobbi.
"Throughout my career here it has been a thrill to work with great artists, and a pleasure to serve with outstanding administrative colleagues. I am especially thankful to have collaborated with two extraordinary music directors — Bruno Bartoletti and Sir Andrew Davis. Both are true men of the theater, and working alongside them has been inspiring and profoundly satisfying. I am also grateful to Matthew Epstein, Lyric's former artistic director, who made such significant artistic contributions to Lyric during the 1980s and '90s. I also have a board of directors, a donor and volunteer corps, and an audience that is unfailingly supportive. A general director could not ask for more."
Lyric Opera's board president and CEO, Richard P. Kiphart, has directed that a search committee immediately be established; it will be led by Kenneth G. Pigott, the board's executive vice president and chairman of Lyric's production sponsorship committee.
More information can be found at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the OPERA NEWS Archives (here and here).
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