After the conclusion of a rigorous international search, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Board Chairman Noémi Neidorff announced today that Andrew Jorgensen has been named the next General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL). Mr. Jorgensen will become the fourth general director in the company’s 43-year history and succeeds Timothy O’Leary, whose tenure concludes on July 1. He will work closely with Mr. O’Leary during OTSL’s 2018 Festival Season to ensure a smooth transition of leadership. Mr. Jorgensen, who was unanimously selected by the OTSL Board Executive Committee, is currently the Director of Artistic Planning and Operations at Washington National Opera (WNO) at the Kennedy Center, where this season he has also been acting as Interim Executive Director and lead of WNO’s interim management team. WNO is the company that Mr. O’Leary will helm as General Director upon his departure from OTSL.
OTSL Board Chairman Noémi Neidorff, along with committee co-chairs Spencer Burke (Immediate Past Chairman) and Donna Wilkinson (Chairman Emerita), led the Search Committee of 15 board members. Ms. Neidorff commented, “Andrew is clearly a visionary, brimming with new ideas and an energy and enthusiasm that are absolutely infectious! This transition is an exciting moment for Opera Theatre, and we are all confident that he will build upon our past successes and will take us to even greater heights.”
“It is a privilege to join the extraordinary team at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis,” said General Director Designate Andrew Jorgensen. “I am humbled to be following in the footsteps of Timothy O’Leary, Charles MacKay, and Richard Gaddes, and I am grateful to the Search Committee and the Board for the opportunity to join the vibrant St. Louis community. I was enchanted when I first visited OTSL in 2013 and I have since returned to the festival every season to experience both the thrill of extraordinary performances and the warm hospitality of the enthusiastic and thoughtful community of opera-lovers in St. Louis. I look forward to partnering with the entire OTSL family - including the talented staff, generous supporters, dedicated volunteers, intrepid audience, and visionary artistic leaders James Robinson and Stephen Lord. Together, I am confident that we will continue to rise to the challenges of inspiring audiences and shaping opera for a changing future.”
Mr. Jorgensen, 34, joined Washington National Opera in 2012 at the invitation of the company’s Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. Highlights of their artistic collaboration include the company’s first complete cycles of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in the spring of 2016; the revised world premiere of Appomattox (by Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton); east coast premieres of Moby-Dick (by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer) and Champion (by Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer, originally commissioned and premiered by OTSL); and multiple new productions including interpretations of La bohème, Dead Man Walking, and Aida. He has been a strong advocate for commissioning new American operas, including six chamber-length operas as part of WNO’s celebrated American Opera Initiative Program and the full-length holiday opera The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me.
He has advanced initiatives to broaden access to opera, deepening relationships with high school students in the DC area through the Young Associates program and increasing inclusiveness for audience members on the autism spectrum through developing sensory-friendly performances of the company’s annual holiday operas.
Before joining Washington National Opera, Mr. Jorgensen spent five seasons on the artistic staff of The Metropolitan Opera. He began his career with two seasons as an assistant artist manager in the vocal division of Columbia Artists Management. He completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business. He currently serves on the board of the William Matheus Sullivan Musical Foundation which supports the careers of young professional opera singers.
In his new role, Mr. Jorgensen will work closely with OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson and Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord, and he will oversee all administrative and artistic activities, including planning future seasons, casting singers, and engaging conductors, directors, and other artistic personnel – all work he has previously accomplished at WNO. OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson commented, “I have had the great pleasure of knowing Andrew Jorgenson for several years and have always thought of him as a rising star in the opera world. His knowledge, passion and enthusiasm are unparalleled, and I am looking forward to collaborating with him. Andrew will bring great energy to both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the entire community.”
“Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has made an excellent selection in Andrew Jorgensen,” said Deborah F. Rutter, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “His work here at the Kennedy Center and Washington National Opera has been stellar, particularly in the interim leadership role he assumed this season. Andrew is a smart and savvy colleague with a rich knowledge of opera and the field, and we will miss his dedication and energy, as well as his enthusiasm and sense of humor. We are so very proud of him, and our loss is certainly OTSL’s gain. We wish him wonderful success in his new endeavor.”
Marc Scorca, President and CEO of OPERA America, the national service organization for professional opera, commented, “I am delighted to learn of the appointment of Andrew Jorgensen as General Director Designate of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Andrew is among the most dynamic and knowledgeable rising leaders in the field, with important experience at two of the most important companies in the country. The OTSL Board’s selection of him demonstrates the company’s continued commitment to artistic excellence, discovery and innovation, and community service.”
Since OTSL’s founding, one of its strongest commitments has been to build and sustain the next generation of leaders in opera, both on and off stage. Its young artist programs have made it possible for the careers of many of America’s greatest singers to flourish, from Christine Brewer, Patricia Racette, and Susan Graham in its early years, to such rising stars of today as Jamie Barton, Corinne Winters, and Jennifer Johnson Cano. The company’s track record with previous General Directors has been equally extraordinary. Opera Theatre’s first two General Directors, founding General Director Richard Gaddes and his successor Charles MacKay both went on to lead the prestigious Santa Fe Opera. General Director Timothy O’Leary departs OTSL to lead Washington National Opera. Through the leadership of each of Mr. Jorgensen’s predecessors, the company has flourished artistically and financially – never accumulating an operating deficit in its 42 years while becoming an internationally recognized leader in developing new, resonant stories for the operatic stage.
“I am thrilled for Opera Theatre, and I am thrilled for Andrew Jorgensen,” said Timothy O’Leary, OTSL's outgoing General Director – who, as announced this past September, becomes General Director of Washington National Opera in July. “I have known Andrew for six years, and for the past six months I have had the opportunity to work with him intensely in my new capacity for Washington National Opera. For as long as I have known him, it was clear that he was destined to make a major contribution to our art form in the role of general director of an opera company. He is a person of utmost intelligence, kindness, integrity, energy, and commitment to the artistic and institutional values that have defined Opera Theatre’s success. I could not be happier, and I know that he will lead OTSL on to new heights.”
Mr. Jorgensen, who was raised in Haddonfield, NJ, will relocate to St. Louis from the DC area this summer with his husband Mark Stuart-Smith and their dog Aria, a Tibetan terrier. He will attend performances and special events throughout OTSL’s 2018 Festival Season to meet members of OTSL’s audience and donor community.
The 2018 Festival Season runs from May 19 – June 24 and features Verdi’s La traviata, Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s An American Soldier, Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice, and the annual Center Stage concert featuring members of OTSL’s Gerdine Young Artist and Gaddes Festival Artist programs. Tickets are available online at ExperienceOpera.org or the Opera Theatre box office at (314) 961-0644.