William Mason named artistic advisor to San Diego OperaEntertainment News, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Friday, May 30th, 2014
SAN DIEGO – San Diego Opera has announced the engagement of William Mason as artistic advisor, effective immediately. Mason will work closely with the production department on repertoire and casting, and work with the administrative staff exploring economies and efficiencies while setting the Company’s budget. Additionally, he will offer guidance in fundraising and corporate governance. Mason will report to the board of directors. The Company will begin a search shortly for a new permanent general director.
“Bill Mason’s reputation in the world of opera is second to none,” shares San Diego Opera Board President Carol Lazier. “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,” shares Mr. Mason. “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.”
A Chicago native, Mason joined Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1962 and from then to 1966 was assistant to Lyric’s co-Artistic Director Pino Donati. From 1968 -1973 he worked at Lyric and other companies across the country (including three shows in San Diego) as a stage manager and assistant director. Mason was Lyric’s production director from 1974-1978 and served as artistic administrator for San Francisco Opera in 1979 and 1980. He returned to Chicago and was Lyric’s director of operations, in charge of the Artistic and Production Departments from 1981 – 1996. He became general director in January 1997 and retired in October 2011.
“With his extensive knowledge of the art form and vast experience at one of the world’s finest opera companies for over 40 years, Bill is uniquely positioned to advise San Diego Opera at this important moment in its history,” said Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago. “Opera and the arts remain as vital and vibrant as ever, and — especially in view of the challenges facing our industry today — it’s gratifying to see San Diego forging plans for its 50th anniversary season and beyond.”
San Diego Opera announced its 2015 season and 50th Anniversary May 19, after nearly two months of careful deliberations and analysis since the Company announced it was going to close at the end of the 2014 season. During this time, the Company launched a crowd funding campaign that resulted in an unprecedented $2.1 million in public donations, of which 48 percent were first time donors from six countries and 36 States. The outpouring of public support, the unified vision expressed by the company’s management, staff, partners and contractors, and the expert advice of Opera America and the many General Directors of U.S. opera companies who weighed in with encouragement, logistical assistance and statements of solidarity, led the board of directors, headed by Carol Lazier, to confidently rescind the original vote to close. Mason’s appointment ensures continuity in San Diego Opera’s artistic vision during this transitional period.
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