Opera Theatre of Saint Louis General Director Andrew Jorgensen announced today two new members of the company’s artistic leadership team. Celebrated soprano Patricia Racette will join Opera Theatre as the Artistic Director of Young Artist Programs. Following a rigorous national search, Damon Bristo, currently a Vice President at Columbia Artists, will also join Opera Theatre, succeeding Paul Kilmer as the Director of Artistic Administration.
“I am excited to welcome these extraordinary new colleagues to Opera Theatre’s artistic leadership,” said Andrew Jorgensen. “I’ve known Patricia and Damon for many years, and respect each of them immensely. Patricia Racette is an incomparable singer and visionary artist who also triumphed in her directorial debut here in 2018. She has a rich depth of wisdom and perspective to share with young singers, and I know she will help advance OTSL’s artistic mission. I am equally thrilled to welcome Damon Bristo, who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the operatic canon in addition to having managed one of the finest rosters in our business. He brings a deep commitment to discovering and promoting young talent. These two appointments mark an exciting new chapter in Opera Theatre’s artistic leadership.”
Racette and Bristo will work closely with Artistic Director James Robinson and Resident Conductor and Head of Music Roberto Kalb in support of Opera Theatre’s artistic planning. In her new role, Racette will help to identify and audition young artists from around the country in addition to supervising the activities of Opera Theatre’s Gerdine Young Artist and Richard Gaddes Festival Artist Programs, including the curation of the annual Center Stage concert. In his role, Bristo will help to plan, cast, and produce all artistic activities at Opera Theatre, ranging from the festival season to special events and off-season programs.
Racette and Bristo will begin their contracts with Opera Theatre in September and will participate in the company’s national audition tour for young artists that month. Current Director of Artistic Administration Paul Kilmer will continue in an advisory role for the 2019–2020 year to ensure a smooth transition before retiring in the summer of 2020, following 36 years of distinguished service to OTSL.
“I look forward to collaborating with Patricia and Damon very much,” said Artistic Director James Robinson. “I have had the great pleasure of working with Patricia Racette over the years, and it is nothing short of thrilling to have her take on this role. I believe she will bring a unique and vibrant artistic voice to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Having Damon Bristo join OTSL also demonstrates our commitment to creating a nurturing and exciting environment for the creation of great opera, the training of young artists, and the continuation of strong artistic advocacy in the community.”
About Patricia Racette
Acclaimed soprano Patricia Racette has appeared in the most celebrated opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro alla Scala, Paris Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro Real, and Gran Teatre del Liceu. Her vast repertoire includes the title roles of Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Jenůfa, Kátya Kabanová, Salome, and many others. Her performances in Madama Butterfly, Peter Grimes, and I Pagliacci at the Metropolitan Opera have been seen worldwide as part of The Met: Live in HD series. Racette made her directorial debut at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 2018 with Verdi’s La traviata, and returns to OTSL in 2020 to direct Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah. She also directed the 2019 young artists’ scenes workshop for the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Recent vocal projects have included La voix humaine at Opera Philadelphia, Kátya Kabanová at Gran Teatre del Liceu, and her role debut as Kostelnicka in Jenůfa with Santa Fe Opera. This coming season, Racette will appear as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking at Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Anna Maurrant in Street Scene at Opera Monte Carlo, and she will both direct and star in La voix humaine at The Dallas Opera. She also returns to San Francisco Conservatory to present an intensive seminar, Integrative Artistry, which is designed to foster artistry in the next generation of classical artists. She has also presented this seminar at The Juilliard School and the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.
“I am thrilled to join the artistic team at OTSL,” said Patricia Racette. “Opera Theatre not only welcomed me for one of the earliest professional roles of my vocal career, but also supported my inaugural directorial project last year. The opportunity to shape the vision of this dynamic company sparks my passion to impact the operatic art form not only as a singer and director, but also as a teacher and a leader. As I expand my career, I eagerly look forward to helping identify and nurture the next generation of artists."
About Damon Bristo
Damon Bristo is currently a Vice President and Artist Manager in the Opera/Vocal management group at Columbia Artists. During his career, he has represented many of the world’s finest artists including Isabel Leonard, Deborah Voigt, Ryan McKinny, Tamara Wilson, James Morris, and Amanda Majeski. He has been heard as a guest on WQXR’s Operavore and on the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcast intermission Opera Quiz. Bristo has taught classes for aspiring singers at Wolf Trap, Washington National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, LA Opera, Curtis Institute of Music, and Yale University. Bristo earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music andCase Western Reserve University and has held positions at The Glimmerglass Festival, Seattle Opera, and Cleveland Art Song Festival.
“Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has long been recognized as one of the most distinguished opera festivals in the United States,” said Damon Bristo. “From its beginning, OTSL has nurtured rising stars, produced innovative productions by cutting-edge directors, and fostered a warm community atmosphere at every single performance. I am thrilled to join General Director Andrew Jorgensen, Artistic Director James Robinson, and the entire Opera Theatre family as we continue to produce world-class opera in St. Louis.”