The Board of Trustees of Sarasota Opera has announced the appointment of Richard Russell as the new Executive Director of Sarasota Opera effective November 1, 2012. Mr. Russell, who was Sarasota Opera's Director of Marketing from 2005 – 2010, returns to Sarasota having served the past three seasons as General Director of Opera New Jersey in Princeton, NJ.
"Richard Russell is well known and respected in Sarasota and is thoroughly knowledgeable about the operations of Sarasota Opera," said Donald Worthington, Chairman of the Board of Sarasota Opera. "His recent position of General Director of Opera New Jersey adds to his qualifications. His familiarity with Sarasota Opera will enable him to perform his duties as Executive Director without a lengthy learning process. We are indeed pleased and excited to welcome Richard and his wife Cynthia back to the fold and we look forward to his bold leadership."
Richard holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree from the prestigious Indiana University in Voice Performance and Choral Conducting. After pursuing a successful performing career, he worked for several technology and financial companies, ultimately achieving the position of Vice-President and Global Webmaster for Citigroup's Emerging Markets Sales and Trading Division. During his five seasons with Sarasota Opera, he oversaw the marketing and communications strategy for the Capital Campaign to fund the $20 million renovation of the historic Sarasota Opera House. In addition, he oversaw approximately $3 million in earned revenue, managed public relations and marketing and participated in every aspect of the company, including artistic planning and donor cultivation.
"I have known Richard for many years, as a musician and administrator," said Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi. "Richard understands and believes in Sarasota Opera's mission. He is respected by our staff, patrons and supporters who know him. Richard's combination of artistic and business knowledge as well as his integrity will be invaluable to Sarasota Opera and our community."
"I'm thrilled to be coming back to Sarasota Opera," says Mr. Russell from his office in New Jersey. "Susan Danis left big shoes to fill, but I'm excited with the opportunity to rejoin the company that has been an important part of my life ever since I was an apprentice artist in 1989."
Among his many achievements during his two years at Opera New Jersey, Mr. Russell expanded the company's presence in the state by adding performances in Asbury Park and Morristown to its summer season. He also initiated new partnerships with other arts and culture organizations, and increased the company's donor base.
Sarasota Opera will open its fall season with Verdi's Rigoletto, which will run from October 26 through November 12, 2012, followed by the Sarasota Youth Opera Premiere of Little Nemo in Slumberland on November 10 and 11, 2012.