General Director Anthony Freud announces administrative appointments at Lyric Opera
Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, today announced promotions for two senior staff members.
Drew Landmesser, Lyric’s production and technical director, will become the company’s deputy general director. Brent Fisher, controller for Lyric, will take over as director of finance. Both appointments become effective January 1, 2013, and are being instituted as a result of the retirement of Richard Dowsek, Lyric’s director of administration and finance, as well as expanded activities inherent in Lyric’s future plans.
“Richard Dowsek, Lyric’s esteemed director of finance and administration for the past 32 years, informed me several months ago of his plan to retire at the end of December, 2012,” Freud stated. “In light of this, Board president Ken Pigott and I have considered and investigated several options for our future administrative structure. We believe that the best way forward for Lyric is to promote from within with forward-thinking personnel who are clearly at the top of their fields within our industry, and also know Lyric Opera intimately.
“In this regard, I am pleased to announce that Drew Landmesser, currently Lyric’s production and technical director, is being promoted to the post of deputy general director. All departments now supervised by Rich Dowsek will report to Drew, as well as Production and Technical, which Landmesser currently heads.”
Freud commented that Drew Landmesser is uniquely qualified for his new role at Lyric, having held senior positions at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. At Lyric Opera, he currently supervises a budget of some $15 million. At both Lyric and San Francisco Opera, he has had a leadership role in working with the various unions, personnel from which make up more than 70 percent of an opera company’s work force.
“Opera companies everywhere are facing more complex challenges than ever before,” Freud stated. “We are a 400-year-old art form that must utilize the digital tools of today’s marketplace to engage new audiences, both at home and worldwide. And we must ensure that our opera house is technically equipped to give our public 21st-century presentations that thrill and engage, yet do so in a fiscally responsible manner. Drew’s background and skill set are ideally suited to achieve these goals.”
Landmesser’s background includes planning and overseeing a state-of-the-art production facility at San Francisco Opera that allows the company to produce high-definition audio and video content for web distribution and streaming. He also supervised a major renovation of the company’s backstage technology. He was instrumental in the planning and oversight of one of San Francisco Opera’s major new audience-development initiatives – a yearly, high-definition broadcast of a production to AT&T Park, which draws some 30,000 attendees. Landmesser also worked on developing new partnerships with the San Francisco Symphony and Ballet, and on enhancements of various company facilities that benefit both patrons and employees. In Chicago, Landmesser was a key planner for the renovation of the Civic Opera House in the 1990s.
Freud also announced that Brent Fisher, the company’s controller since 1982, an accountant with a master’s degree, is being promoted to the position of director of finance. “Brent Fisher is an executive of great skill who knows Lyric’s financial picture extraordinarily well. He has the full support of the Lyric Board’s finance committee and I know he will do extremely well in this new capacity,” Freud said. Among other duties, Fisher has worked with Dowsek and the Board’s investment committee in managing Lyric’s $150-million investment portfolio. He was also involved in the purchase and renovation of the Civic Opera House and the financing of the project. Fisher will oversee all budgeting for Lyric Opera, a $65-million not-for-profit organization. All members of Lyric’s accounting and financial department will now report to Fisher.
Freud also stated that Richard Dowsek would be retained as a consultant for the company through December of 2013.
Because of these new appointments, there will be other personnel changes within some departments which will be announced over the coming weeks.