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Dallas Opera Appoints SMU Grad As Its New ‘Artistic Administrator’

by Jerome Weeks 25 Jun 2014 2:11 PM

Ian Derrer will take the place of artistic director Jonathan Pell, who started at the DO 30 years ago in the same position as artistic administrator. Pell announced his retirement in April; Derrer starts immediately.


ian smallIan Derrer, most recently with the Lyric Opera of Chicago,, will take the place of artistic director Jonathan Pell,, who started at the Dallas Opera 30 years ago in the same position as artistic administrator. Pell announced his retirement in April.

The international search to replace Pell drew nearly 50 candidates from as far away as Russia and Australia. Derrer graduated from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts in 1996 with a bachelor’s in music. He got his masters degrees (plural) in opera production, voice and performing arts management from Northwestern University and Brooklyn College. He’s worked as a freelance stage manager for Santa Fe Opera and Washington Opera, as the rehearsal and music coordinator for the New York City Opera — and for the Lyric Opera of Chicago in a number of positions, including director of production.

Both Keith Cerny, general director and CEO of the Dallas Opera, and music director Emmanuel Villaume have worked with Derrer. He will start with the Dallas Opera part-time immediately and will become full-time in August. Pell will continue as artistic advisor.

The full release:
Most Recently Served with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Santa Fe Opera; Appointment Effective Immediately

DALLAS, JUNE 25, 2014 – In the wake of Jonathan Pell’s decision to step down after thirty years of distinguished service to The Dallas Opera, General Director & CEO Keith Cerny is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Artistic Administrator, Ian Derrer.

Working closely with Dr. Cerny and Music Director Emmanuel Villaume, the Artistic Administrator will be responsible for supporting the planning and implementation of the company’s programming for future seasons. Going forward, the leadership team will also include Director of Production John Toia and Technical Director Drew Field. To ensure continuity, as previously announced, Mr. Pell will continue to serve as Artistic Advisor to the company until the end of the 2016-2017 Season.

Following a comprehensive international search—which attracted nearly fifty highly qualified applicants from the U.S., U.K., Continental Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and Australia—General Director & CEO Keith Cerny has appointed Mr.Derrer to this newly created position. Mr. Derrer joins TDO from the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Mr. Derrer grew up in North Carolina and, in 1996, completed a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. He then worked as a freelance Assistant Director and Stage Manager for Santa Fe Opera, The Atlanta Opera, Opera Carolina, Opera Pacific, and Washington Opera. From 1999-2005 he completed Masters Degrees in Opera Production, Voice, and Performing Arts Management from Northwestern University and Brooklyn College. During the summers of 2001-2003 he was also the Scheduling Coordinator for the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy. Afterwards, he served as Rehearsal & Music Coordinator for the New York City Opera (2004-2006). Mr. Derrer also has invaluable experience in the field of orchestra and artist management. Immediately prior to joining the Dallas Opera, Ian held multiple positions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (2006-2014), including Head of the Rehearsal Department, Rehearsal Administrator, and Director of Production, while, also, making time to serve as Rehearsal Director for Santa Fe Opera during the summer of 2012.
Regarding the selection of Mr. Derrer, General Director & CEO Keith Cerny noted: “In the midst of a superb group of candidates, Ian really stood out. I am delighted to add him to my senior artistic team. Ian is well-known in the opera world for his wide-ranging background as a performer, stage director and administrator, as well as being equally renowned for his superb teamwork and leadership skills. With this exciting appointment, I am pleased to have completed my artistic leadership team.”

TDO’s Music Director, Emmanuel Villaume, commented, “I have known Ian for nearly ten years, and have worked with him both at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Santa Fe Opera. I have been consistently impressed with his ability to manage complex situations with diplomacy and tact; and I have developed great admiration for his knowledge of singers and their craft. I very much look forward to working with Ian in his new role.”

Mr. Derrer begins work on a part-time basis immediately and will assume a full-time position on the Dallas Opera Senior Staff, as of mid-August.