Michigan Opera Theatre’s Artistic Director David DiChiera to Retire After Season- Crain’s Detroit Business
By Sherri Welch
Michigan Opera Theatre’s founder and artistic director David DiChiera plans to retire at the end of the 2016-17 season a year from this May.
At that point he will become artistic director emeritus, serving as an adviser to the recently established resident artist program, Michigan Opera Theatre Studio.
MOT’s board is launching a national search for his successor, with board member Barbara Kratchman, retired executive director of ArtServe Michigan—now operating as Creative Many Michigan—chairing a nine-member search committee.
DiChiera will serve as an adviser to the committee which plans to name a new artistic director this fall, MOT said in a release.
Catherine French Group, a Washington, D.C.-based executive search firm for nonprofit music, arts and education organizations, is conducting the search on MOT’s behalf.
DiChiera, 80, transitioned to the position of full-time artistic director late in 2013, handing off the responsibility for leading MOT to President and CEO Wayne Brown.
DiChiera first scaled back his duties after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, beginning treatment for it that year and being given a good prognosis.
Today, DiChiera “is in good health, and his health has absolutely nothing to do with his retirement or MOT’s succession plans,” said Communications Director Jillian Zylinski.
DiChiera said in a release that he is excited to be able to continue to work with the young artists in MOT’s studio training program.
“After all the years of running at full throttle … I’m looking forward to having time to do the things I love most, writing and composing,” he said.
DiChiera founded MOT in 1971. His determination helped bring a world-class opera house to Detroit in 1996 with the restoration of the abandoned Grand Circus Theater, which now operates as the Detroit Opera House.
Two years later, he spearheaded establishment of Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts as its founding artistic director, helping to keep the historic venue from becoming a parking lot.
Under his leadership, MOT has become one of the country’s top regional opera companies, earning an international reputation as a producer of rarely performed operas and a supporter of minority and new opera artists.
DiChiera is “virtually irreplaceable,” said MOT Chairman R. Jamison Williams, in the release.
“But we’re excited to have the opportunity to bring new talent and new thinking to MOT while David’s still here.”