Out-of Office: Leadership Seminar

I’ve let this project lag just a little bit (Ahem. I may exaggerate a little…), but it’s for a great reason. As part of the Opera America Leadership Intensive, I’ve been spending the last several days in a sunny conference room in New York with 13 colleagues from the US, Canada and Europe, talking about the future of the art form – our art form – and our place therein.

I won’t lie: it’s an extremely exciting time for yours truly. My colleagues are smart, warm, witty, and generous. It’s a little ridiculous, actually, how fantastic these folks are.The facilitators are knowledgable and gentle, even as they push us outside of our comfort zones (hello, public speaking!) and challenge our assumptions of ourselves and the field at large. I count myself amazingly lucky to be counted among this group of students.

We’re all asking a lot of questions, sharing volumes of information. And of course, being in New York there are things to do, friends to connect with, any number of millions of directions to explore. Even if I weren’t in season (WHICH I AM. How am I not in the office? And more importantly, have you picked up tickets for Rake’s Progress yet?), I’d find it slightly overwhelming. I have an awful lot to chew on, with more to think about and tackle in the days to come.

On Tuesday morning, we were all tasked to give our 5-minute personal history to the group. Five minutes to let the group know how you came to be sitting around that table, focused and passionate about an art form that many would describe as a hard sell.

And can I tell you, singers who are doubting whether a performance path is for you? Those of you who fell in love with drama and theater and music but who realize that you may not light up a stage? (Or want to light up a stage?) Can I simply tell you that the group of people around that table – like me, maybe like you – had those same doubts at one point. They parlayed their love of the art form, and the self-knowledge that footlights weren’t their thing, into leadership roles at major and influential opera companies around the country. They are Development Officers, Artistic Directors, Community Programs Directors…the list goes on.

It is a beautiful thing, indeed.

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