Opera San Jose’s new general manager is another bold move

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Shawna Lucey, whose work as a director has been recognized in theaters and opera houses in the Bay Area and beyond, has been named the new General Manager of Opera San Jose.

She will officially take up her post next month, halfway through the company’s 38th season, succeeding Khori Dastoor, who left earlier this year to become general manager of the Houston Grand Opera.

Lucey’s appointment sheds new light on one of the region’s leading opera companies. In his previous work in the Bay Area – including his 2018 production of Verdi’s “La Traviata”, which marked his first release with Opera San Jose, and this year’s dynamic staging “Tosca” by Puccini which opened the 99th season of the San Francisco Opera in August – Lucey has been praised for her ability to illuminate the dramatic power and contemporary relevance of operas.

On a phone call from New York, where she resides in Harlem with her husband and their baby daughter – they plan to move to the Bay Area soon – Lucey, 42, said she was “more than thrilled »To take on the new position, his first in the field of arts management.

“Opera San Jose is a gem of an opera company,” she said, “a solid company with excellent staff and a very caring audience, and a solid history of female excellence.

“During the pandemic, I lost all of my directing work, and after some thought, I decided that I really wanted to take a greater leadership role in the opera community. I had such a wonderful experiences with Opera San Jose, and I felt it was a really good cultural match, so I threw my hat in the ring.

Gillian Moran, chairman of the board of directors of Opera San Jose, said Lucey was the right fit for the job. “When we began our search five months ago, we knew we were looking for a charismatic leader whose passion and vision would help us continue to grow and develop the incredible work and programs OSJ has to offer. Shawna more than does the job perfectly – her background leading productions in America’s greatest opera houses, her passion for infusing classics with new resonance and her crystal-clear vision of vibrant contemporary works will be huge assets, propelling our business to a new level. exciting future.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Lucey holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Italian from the University of Texas, Austin. She spent five years in Russia, obtaining her MA in Directing and Movement from the famous Boris Shchukin Theater Institute in Moscow, affiliated with the Vakhtangov Theater. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Science in Nonprofit Management program at Columbia University.

Her theatrical credits include work as a touring artist and on staff at the Bread & Puppet Theater in Vermont. She found the work stimulating and stimulating, but even so, her entry into the world of opera was an eye-opener. She spent 11 seasons at the Santa Fe Opera, where she went from technical apprentice to director, then worked on new productions and covers at the Metropolitan Opera, the Dallas Opera and the Theater de la ‘St. Louis Opera House.

Every production, she said, left her in awe of the power of opera. “I am so moved by opera singers,” she said. “What they are doing is so amazing. Opera is the best of the best in theater.

With her nomination, Opera San Jose takes another step forward for women in the arts. The company’s history began with mezzo-soprano Irene Dalis, who founded Opera San Jose in 1984 and retired as managing director in 2014. Larry Hancock succeeded Dalis from 2014 to 2019. The tenure brief but important Dastoor guided the company through the pandemic year and featured the Fred Heiman Digital Media Center, which featured streaming recitals and a full production of Jake Heggie’s “Three Decembers”.

Lucey is already thinking about how the Heiman Center can serve the company and its community. Plans are underway to use it for the company’s upcoming Irene Dalis singing competition. “The digital studio,” she said, “speaks to where Opera San Jose is, at the center of innovation. “

Will she direct the company’s future productions? Lucey said no for the foreseeable future. She enters the business mid-season, with her acclaimed production of “Dido and Aeneas” just completed and new staging of “Carmen” and “West Side Story” slated for 2022.

“Right now I have a lot to learn and grow,” she said. “That will be my goal for now. I can’t wait to join the Opera San Jose family. At the moment, I’m really focused on this.


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