Minnesota Opera has appointed a new president and general director. Ryan Taylor, 43, comes to the position from Arizona Opera, based in Phoenix.
An alumnus of the Minnesota Resident Artist Program, Taylor has sung with the company in several productions. “He is an opera artist of the first order, a skilled executive and a respected leader in our field,” the opera’s board chair, James Johnson, said in a statement.
Taylor, who assumes the role May 1, is credited with rescuing the Arizona company’s finances through strong fundraising. The troupe operates on an annual budget of about $6 million, compared to the Minnesota Opera’s expenses of roughly $9.5 million a year.
Taylor’s hiring is the result of a six-month search and a longer period of administrative difficulty for the opera. While the company rightly has gained artistic notice for its recent record of launching new work, it has struggled in the office since Kevin Smith, who is now CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra, retired as president in 2011.
Alan Naplan lasted only a year as Smith’s successor and then Kevin Ramach resigned after about 2½ years. Nina Archabal, former director of the Minnesota Historical Society, came in as an interim about 14 months ago. There also has been significant staff turnover.
In Taylor, the opera gets someone who spent a decade as an operatic baritone with more than 30 roles. He was invited into the Minnesota Resident Artist Program in 2000-01 and returned in 2004 in “Madame Butterfly.”
“Having been fortunate enough to receive valuable training from Minnesota Opera at a formative time early in my career, I am especially honored to carry the organization’s remarkable reputation forward,” he said in a statement released by the company. He has worked in administrative positions in New York, and for Wolf Trap and the Berkshire Opera companies. He was given a five-year contract here.
The Minnesota Opera has produced several notable world premieres in the past four years. “Silent Night” won a Pulitzer Prize for composer Kevin Puts, who returned with librettist Mark Campbell to write “The Manchurian Candidate.” Pulitzer winner John Patrick Shanley adapted his play “Doubt” with composer Douglas Cuomo and this coming May, “The Shining,” by Campbell and composer Paul Moravec (another Pulitzer winner) will have its world debut.
The company separately has released its 2015-16 season. It opens with “Romeo and Juliet” Sept. 24-Oct. 2 followed by Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” Nov. 12-20. The opera will present the American premiere of “Diana’s Garden” by Vincente Martín Y Soler in January 2017 and another new work that March, “Dinner at Eight,” based on the Kaufman-Ferber play, with music by William Bolcom and libretto by Campbell. The season will conclude with the ever-popular “La Bohème” May 6-21, 2017.