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And Now It's the Dallas Opera's Turn to Lose a Leader

by Jerome Weeks 2 May 2011 5:20 PM

The Dallas Opera’s music director Graeme Jenkins will leave at the end of the 2012-13 season — to pursue his European career full-time.


In what seems to be a game of Who’s Next? the Dallas Opera joins the ranks of the Dallas Museum of Art (Bonnie Pitman steppping down for reasons of health), the Dallas Symphony (Bill Lively, ditto — plus president  Doug Adams and then Paul Stewart resigning) and the AT&T Performing Arts Center (Mark Nerenhausen being forced out last year).

Can’t anyone  here play this game?

Actually, the opera’s music director Graeme Jenkins is stepping down at the end of his current contract — after 17 years and more than 50 productions — so he’s played this game a fairly long time.  Plus, he’ll continue to conduct in Dallas  through the 2012-’13 season and then become “music director emeritus.” So it’s not like he’s bolting for the exit. He’s going to concentrate on his European career.

In a prepared statement, Jenkins said: “In planning the next phase of my career, I am conscious that I cannot continue to devote such significant time to The Dallas Opera and meet my other conducting commitments.”

Mercifully, the opera hired CEO Keith Cerny just last year. So there’s that.

The full release follows:






DALLAS, MAY 2, 2011 – The Dallas Opera is announcing that after seventeen years and more than fifty productions as Music Director of the Dallas Opera, Graeme Jenkins has decided to resign, effective the end of his current contract, in order to focus on his European career.

In a letter to Dallas Opera General Director & CEO Keith Cerny, Mr. Jenkins says that what he has learned “in the (orchestra) pit in Dallas has given me a foundation of repertoire and experience to translate to opera houses in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Canada” and cited the increased demands on his schedule, particularly in the major opera houses of Europe, as his reason for choosing not to seek an extension of his current Dallas Opera contract.

“In planning the next phase of my career, I am conscious that I cannot continue to devote such significant time to The Dallas Opera and meet my other conducting commitments.  I have greatly enjoyed my nearly two decades as Music Director of The Dallas Opera, and I look forward very much to the remaining productions I will conduct in the next two years: Katya Kabanova, Tristan & Isolde, Die Zauberflöte, and other projects still ‘under wraps’,” Jenkins adds.  And “I will remain for the rest of my artistic life a goodwill ambassador for the Dallas Opera.”

“Graeme played a crucial role in our successful 2009 move into the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House,” says Keith Cerny.  “Throughout his tenure, he has worked closely with other members of the company’s Senior Staff to create one memorable, successful, and artistically gratifying season after another.

“The Dallas Opera is deeply indebted to Graeme for his outstanding leadership at the podium and the warm affection he has generated among our dedicated patrons for nearly twenty years.”

“From the moment Graeme arrived in Dallas,” says Dallas Opera Chairman Dr. Kern Wildenthal, “we were captivated by his passion for the art form and his desire to turn everyone—from children to adults—into genuine opera lovers.  Graeme worked hard to perfect his craft and, working hand-in-hand with our excellent Dallas Opera Orchestra, he created magic, as well as music.

“We wish him nothing but the best as he begins to shift focus to his European career and—in the wake of his recent triumph conducting Boris Godunov—we’re looking forward to many more great performances from Graeme in the upcoming Dallas Opera seasons.”

Mr. Jenkins resignation will take effect at the end of the 2012-2013 Season at which time he will assume the title of ‘Music Director Emeritus’ for the company.