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Arts & Entertainment

Dallas Opera CEO Keith Cerny Resigns, Headed to Calgary

Cerny led the opera through a period of financial uncertainty, artistic ambition
By Peter Simek |

Keith Cerny, who has led the Dallas Opera for seven-and-a-half years, will step down from his role as the Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO for a position with the Calgary Opera.

Cerny has led Dallas opera company through a period of financial rebound, balancing budgets while taking on new projects, commissions, collaborations, launching public programming like the Cowboys Stadium simulcasts, and presiding over the company’s adjustment to its new home in the Winspear Opera House. It was a remarkable stretch for the man whom we have credited with saving the company multiple times. His departure could be viewed as a loss for Dallas, or as the culmination of a job well done.

Cerny came to Dallas from San Francisco, beginning his tenure by  making the difficult decision to cut the number of productions and performances each the season, while also reducing staff. The Dallas Opera is back up to producing five operas and enjoys a robust ancillary programming, including events around the company’s acclaimed The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors, a rare and much-needed training ground for women opera conductors and administrators, which also launched under Cerny.

In a statement, the opera says it will begin the search for a successor immediately.

Here’s the full release:

The Dallas Opera Announces the Resignation of General Director and CEO Keith Cerny

DALLAS, TX, DECEMBER 15, 2017 – After seven-and-a-half years with The Dallas Opera, Keith Cerny, The Kern Wildenthal General Director and CEO, has tendered his resignation.

He has been appointed General Director and CEO of Calgary Opera, where he will assume his duties in January.

Dr. Cerny, who took the helm of The Dallas Opera in the spring of 2010, has presided over five consecutive balanced operating budgets and a host of artistic projects, expansions, and technical innovations.  These include a highly-successful simulcast program; regional, U.S. and world premieres; and innovative community outreach programs.

Under his leadership, TDO launched one of the very few programs for women opera conductors and administrators: The Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors at The Dallas Opera, and hosted the successful 2017 OPERA America Conference, extolled as one of the most productive and thought-provoking gatherings of the opera community in recent years.

His eye for talent led him to recruit both Music Director Emmanuel Villaume (currently preparing for Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera) and Principal Guest Conductor Nicole Paiement, as well as a team of highly-skilled senior staff members.

“Keith has every reason to be proud of his legacy,” notes Dallas Opera Board Chair Holly Mayer. “We wish him every success with his new responsibilities as we turn our efforts to maintaining this company’s impressive forward momentum and strengthening the collaborations with other arts organizations that have marked Keith’s tenure here in Dallas.”

The search for Cerny’s successor will begin immediately.

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