30 May 2014
San Diego Opera Taps Former Lyric Opera of Chicago General Director William Mason as Artistic Advisor
William Mason, former general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has been named as artistic advisor to the rejuvenated San Diego Opera, the company announced today.
Mason's role with the company, which is effective immediately, will be tripartite, the company said in a statement: he will bolster San Diego Opera's production department on repertoire and casting, work with the company's administrative staff in an effort to "explore economics and efficiencies while setting the company's budget," and he will also offer SDO guidance in fundraising and corporate governance.
"Bill Mason’s reputation in the world of opera is second to none," said Carol Lazier, SDO's board president. "His knowledge of opera production and staging, his skills as an administrator, and his deep love of the art form, assures that the artistic quality San Diego Opera is known for will continue unabated. Each member of our superb and dedicated staff is excited to work with Bill in the coming months to prepare for our 50th anniversary season."
"It has clearly been a difficult and traumatic few months for the San Diego Opera community and staff and I am very flattered to have been asked to assist the company during this challenging and transitional period," Mason said in a statement issued today by the company. "I will do everything I can to help the Board and staff maintain the company's high artistic standards and ensure its existence for many years to come."
In addition to Mason's appointment, the company announced that it intends to undertake a search for a new general director to replace its longtime general and artistic director, Ian D. Campbell, with whom the company parted ways on May 15, nearly two months after San Diego Opera's board voted to cease all operations, reportedly at Campbell's instigation. On May 19, after fundraising more than $4.5 million, the company's board formally rescinded its earlier vote to shutter its doors and announced its intention to move ahead with the presentation of a three-opera season in 2015. Last week the company announced that it had begun staff reductions as the first part of additional cost-cutting measures intended to align the company with its newly revised budget.
Mason joined Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1962 as an assistant to the company's co-artistic director Pino Donati. From 1968 through 1973, he worked as a stage manager and assistant director at companies around the country, including San Diego Opera, where he worked on three shows. From the mid- to late-'70s, Mason served as Lyric Opera of Chicago's production director, before going on to serve for two years as artistic administrator at San Francisco Opera. From 1981 through 1996, he was Lyric Opera of Chicago's director of operations, and in 1997 he was appointed as the company's general director. He retired from his position in Chicago in October 2011.
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