Knoxville Opera today announced the addition of three highly respected opera professionals to its artistic team for the 2022-23 season as part of a reorganization the company is undertaking with the upcoming conclusion of Artistic Director Brian Salesky’s contract.
Salesky, who has served as executive and artistic director from 2005-2020 and as artistic director since 2020, will finish out the current season’s productions of Mefistofele, the Puccini Gala Concert and the 2022 Rossini Festival.
Executive Director Jason Hardy, who was hired in 2020 as interim director and moved to Knoxville in July of this year to work full time, will become general director and CEO. The new artistic team will include Dean Anthony as the company’s producing director; Elizabeth Moore as music coordinator; and Keturah Stickann as artistic advisor.
Don Townsend, who has worked for Knoxville Opera since its inception, will remain as the company’s production manager, and Dr. Loneka Wilkinson Battiste will remain as director of education and community engagement.
To help guide Knoxville Opera’s visual, theatrical and musical planning for future productions and civic engagement activities, the newcomers will serve in an advisory capacity this season and begin their official appointments in July 2022.
“These artists combine broad experience in producing opera with a passion for developing young artists and connecting audiences with opera,” said Frank Rosamond, chair of the Knoxville Opera board of directors. “They will be a major asset to our company and the Knoxville community.”
According to Hardy, the new artistic model will allow the Knoxville Opera to bring in a wide variety of directors and conductors and continue to give opportunities to rising singers in the industry.
With more than 30 years of industry experience as a stage performer, stage director, educator and producer, Anthony draws from an exceptional knowledge of the operatic repertoire from all facets of the industry. As producing director at Knoxville Opera, Anthony will be a key collaborator in the artistic and strategic planning for the organization. He will lead and oversee all aspects of the company’s producing activities, encompassing mainstage and secondary performances and the development and execution of designated new opera works development.
“I’m extremely excited about this new adventure with Knoxville Opera,” Anthony said. “I have such great respect for Jason, the organization and community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to fill this ‘dream role’ of producing director with an incredible team of friends and colleagues.”
In addition to his role at Knoxville Opera, Anthony will continue as the director of opera with the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina. His work with young singers also will help deepen the company’s relationship with the voice and opera programs at the University of Tennessee.
As Seattle Opera’s music coordinator/accompanist, Moore served as rehearsal pianist for more than 30 mainstage productions. She also was coach/accompanist and voice teacher for the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program and spent a decade on the voice faculty of Seattle University. In her new role with Knoxville Opera, Moore will oversee musical preparation for the company’s performances, programs and events throughout the season. She also will provide vocal coaching and performance opportunities for members of the Opera Studio at the University of Tennessee.
Stickann’s directing and choreographic work has been seen in opera houses across the United States and abroad. A champion of new American opera, the director recently won critical acclaim for her pandemic season “drive-in” productions of La Bohème and The Barber of Seville at San Diego Opera. Stickann’s podcast, “Words First: Talking Text in Opera,” has been celebrated by The New York Times for exploring the meaning behind the music by highlighting the role of librettists who fashion the words.
As Knoxville Opera’s artistic advisor, Stickann will contribute to both the company’s public offerings and internal planning. The role will include directing, master classes and community engagement activities, as well as working with staff to develop programming.
“These artists are highly respected throughout the opera industry,” Hardy said. “Their diverse perspectives and collective experiences have helped push the field forward both on stage and off. As future residents of Knoxville, I’m delighted that they will all bring a commitment to operatic storytelling, arts education and civic practice to our city.”
Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America, is enthusiastic about the company’s plans.
“When Jason Hardy was selected to participate in OPERA America’s Leadership Intensive Program, we knew his experience as both artist and administrator prepared him for a leadership role in our field,” Scorca said. “With the artistic team he is bringing to Knoxville, Jason demonstrates his commitment to realizing a compelling vision for the future of the company. Knoxville Opera will be well-served by their deep knowledge of opera, production expertise, dedication to civic impact and national stature.”
About Knoxville Opera
Knoxville Opera’s mission is to provide the residents of East Tennessee with high-quality, locally produced opera and to contribute to the future of the operatic art form by educating the community about opera and its role in our culture.
Knoxville Opera, founded in 1978, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose programs are made possible, in part, by major funding from Steve & Ann Bailey, Eden McNabb & Chris Bishop, City of Knoxville, Mark & Cathy Hill, Home Federal Bank, Knox County, W.R. McNabb, Pilot Company, Rotary Club of Knoxville, The Sood Family, State of Tennessee, Tennessee Arts Commission and Nancy & Charlie Wagner. Visit knoxvilleopera.com for more information.