Opera Birmingham seeks General Director

Opera Birmingham is seeking applications for the position of General Director from individuals with a passion for opera and broad practical experience in production and management. Reporting to the board of directors, the General Director shall be responsible for all matters required for the successful conduct of the Company’s business and shall be the primary leader in fund-raising and building relationships with individuals and organizations in the community. 

The Organization

Opera Birmingham has entertained audiences for nearly 60 years. From its humble beginnings in 1955, Opera Birmingham has produced operatic productions and concerts of high standards, hailed by critics and loved by audiences.

Opera Birmingham began in 1955 as the Birmingham Civic Opera under the leadership of Martha Dick McClung, director of Opera Theater at Birmingham-Southern College. The Company’s first production was Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, followed by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Since then, Opera Birmingham has produced over 50 different operas, and has brought hundreds of the best operatic performers from all over the world to Birmingham’s artistic doorstep. After merging with Southern Regional Opera in 1986, the Company became Birmingham Opera Theater in 1987, and finally Opera Birmingham in 1996. 

The current general director, who is leaving in the spring of 2015, has led Opera Birmingham into its fifth decade. Under his aegis, young singers have successfully expanded their repertoire and many internationally acclaimed artists have performed in both recitals and staged productions. Sopranos Kallen Esperian, Elizabeth Futral, Renée Fleming and Angela Brown, mezzos Susan Graham and Kristine Jepson, tenor Jay Hunter Morris and baritone Nathan Gunn are among the superstars performing for Birmingham audiences during the past decade.
The Opera Birmingham Chorus is an essential part of the Company’s success. In addition to performing in Opera Birmingham’s fully-staged operas, the Chorus participates annually in the holiday concert and has held its own fundraising events. Choral groups and college choirs are often invited to participate in Opera Birmingham productions.

The 2014/15 season will include two performances each of Hamlet with Leah Partridge and Corey McKern, and La Boheme with Elizabeth Futral, and a number of other operatic events, including Catch a Rising Star, Home for the Holidays, and the 37th Annual Vocal Competition. Opera Birmingham performs in several venues around Birmingham.

The Company has an annual budget of $700,000 and employs two full-time persons and three part-time persons. The board of directors is comprised of 30 professional persons with many areas of experience, including music and the performing arts, education, finance, and administration. In addition, there are two auxiliary organizations, the Opera Club and Amici, a young professionals group.

The City

Birmingham is the largest metropolitan area in Alabama and includes over one million persons in the seven-county region. It was founded in 1871 and grew into an industrial center focused on mining, the iron and steel industry, and railroads. The pace of its rapid growth inspired the nickname “The Magic City”.

Although the manufacturing industry maintains a strong presence in Birmingham, the metro economy has diversified and is concentrated in health care and medical research, education, banking, telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and insurance. The city is one of the most important business centers in the southeastern United States and is home to several prominent universities and colleges. Birmingham’s Shuttlesworth International Airport has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation.

Birmingham is the cultural and entertainment capital of Alabama and is home to several of the state’s major performing arts organizations, including Opera Birmingham, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and Alabama Ballet. Its many museums include the Birmingham Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the Southeast, as well as the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the McWane Science Center, and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. 

The downtown business district has experienced a cultural and economic revitalization, with many new independent shops, restaurants, and loft apartments. Downtown Birmingham also includes Railroad Park, a beautiful, nationally recognized 19-acre urban park; Regions Field, the fabulous new ball park of the Birmingham Barons, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox; and Uptown, Birmingham’s premier entertainment district at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.

Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have senior management experience in the opera/cultural field and the ability to work cooperatively with volunteers, including the board of directors, and the Company’s current staff. 

Other required skills include experience in the development and management of budgets, knowledge of marketing, fund-raising, artistic operations, and educational programming, and competence in strategic problem solving. The board of directors is seeking someone who inspires enthusiasm, has a track record of expanding audiences, and who is interested in growing a company over a number of years. 

Training in opera/music and/or arts management is desirable. A good contact network throughout the opera industry is vital. 

Salary commensurate with experience. 

How to Apply

Please send resume and cover letter with salary requirements and a list of references by Monday, September 15, 2014 to: 

Margaret Genovese
Senior Partner
Genovese, Vanderhoof & Associates
77 Carlton Street, Suite 1103
Toronto, ON
Canada M5B 2J7

E-mail: gvasearch@gmail.com

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