More moves at the Virginia Opera
Edited to add: A version of this post appeared in Wednesday's Washington Post.
The Virginia Opera this afternoon announced the appointment of an artistic advisor to help guide the company through its interim period of transition while it seeks a new director. The advisor is Robin Thompson, most recently the producing artistic director at the New York City Opera.
Last week, the opera made headlines by terminating the contract of its long-time artistic and music director, Peter Mark.
Thompson worked at City Opera from 1996-2009, helping to oversee the opera's critically acclaimed years under then-general director Paul Kellogg. City Opera, under Kellogg, was praised for innovative productions (particularly a concentration on the operas of Handel) and for continuing the company's mandate of cultivating young singers, especially young American singers -- also a goal of the Virginia Opera.
"I am here primarily to offer a sense of stability to the casting and season planning process during the transition," Thompson said in a company press release, "but also to offer new ideas to the Virginia Opera team."
"It is about the future of the institution, not me," he said -- almost exactly echoing a comment Peter Mark made last week.
Mark had hinted at legal action against the company after last week's announcement. Through his lawyer, he made a compromise proposal to the opera's executive committee; it was turned down.
One immediate issue is that of finding a conductor for "The Valkyrie," a three-hour version of Wagner's "Die Walküre" that Mark was to have conducted when the company performs it in early 2011. Thompson will help the opera find a suitable replacement.
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