Minnesota Opera, where Kevin Smith has been in charge for many years, has a new president. The opera's board named Allan Naplan as its president and general director. Naplan most recently was general director of Madison Opera in Wisconsin for six years, and he previously worked in leadership at Pittsburgh Opera and Houston Grand Opera.

Naplan, 38, will assume his new duties in March.

Smith announced in May that he planned to retire. He joined the opera in 1981 as stage manger and became president and CEO in 1986. During his term , the opera has seen its annual budget rise from $1.5 million to $9 million. Its production schedule has gone from three to five operas each season.

Smith praised the opera board's selection of Naplan, calling him "a dynamic, creative leader who brings a wonderful blend of intelligence, talent and experience to the job."

Naplan has been an opera singer himself, as well as a composer and radio producer and host. At Madison, he oversaw increased box-office sales and fundraising, as well as expansion of the company's season.

"Allan has been hugely helpful to Madison Opera, elevating its status, its budget and the profile of the company in the [relatively] new Overture Center," said Lindsay Christians, who writes about the arts for the Capital Times.

In a statement, Naplan said he was "honored and excited" about joining Minnesota Opera.

"I have long admired the company for its institutional and artistic excellence. I am eager to begin working with [artistic director] Dale Johnson, the talented staff and the dedicated board of directors," Naplan said. "Along with sustaining the impressive work that has already been achieved under Kevin Smith's remarkable and visionary leadership, I hope that, together, we might begin to explore new ideas for innovation and organizational expansion that will lead Minnesota Opera to even greater success in the years to come."

Claude Peck • 612-673-7977